2023 saw Horizon Works and the Engineering and Manufacturing Network (EMN) launch the Engineering and Manufacturing Marketers’ Meet-Up series – and through these events, we’ve been bringing in house marketers, sales professionals and business development personnel together to share experiences and ideas, gain knowledge and be inspired.

They’ve featured Q and A sessions, presentations from regional innovators, expert insight into areas such as SEO, VR and animation, and some lively discussions on all things marketing!

In its role as affiliate partner of EMN, Horizon Works has hosted the Meet-Ups at its event space at Northumberland, and a real community has developed around them.

Often, engineering and manufacturing companies have small marketing teams, and in many cases, there is only one person responsible for marketing in the business: these events have therefore played a valuable role in bringing marketers together from across North East England.

To kick off 2024, EMN hosted a round table with Horizon Works and a group of in-house marketing professionals, to look at common marketing challenges in engineering and manufacturing companies, perceptions of marketing within the sector, trends and skills.

So what were the talking points from our round-table?

Selling marketing internally… and demonstrating success

We discussed that it’s not always easy to secure budget for marketing projects, resources and activities. Sometimes this is because there is a lack of awareness among business leaders in engineering and manufacturing companies over what certain marketing activities entail, and on other occasions, it’s due to concerns over ROI.

On other occasions, it may be that the role of marketing isn’t clearly understood across the business.

Clearly, these are hurdles that marketers need to overcome if they are going to make a genuine impact. And this led to a discussion on how the purpose of marketing can be ‘sold’ internally – and how success can be demonstrated. Which marketing metrics should be considered. What is the best way of communicating results?

Purpose-driven marketing

The importance of defining a business’s purpose and how vision, mission and values should underscore marketing and sales activities was a key talking point. Rather than consign vision, mission and values ‘to the bottom drawer in the desk’, it was seen as essential that these are fully embraced and that purpose-driven marketing can lead to more successful marketing and business growth.

Establishing and communicating brand

Brand is behind everything in a business, driving all forces in an organisation, including marketing and sales efforts, and the round table discussed how important it is for organisations to establish both brand consistency and convey their ‘brand voice’.

In technical industries, communicating what a company stands for – and its culture – can be a challenge. How can a brand voice be heard over so much technical content? How can a company’s vision, mission and values, be conveyed with clarity over specifications and component fact sheets? These are key elements for marketers to consider…

Bringing everyone along with you…

…or at least some people! How to get buy-in outside the marketing and sales teams was a hot topic. We discussed ways of creating brand champions among technical and production staff, the role of internal communications, how employees can feel part of the marketing process and more.

What is an in-house marketer’s role?

Lead generator. Profile raiser. Social media guru. Exhibition stand builder. It was acknowledged that in some circumstances, marketers are expected to turn their hand to – and be an expert in – every marketing discipline. Clearly this isn’t possible, but how can that message be put across, to ensure that in-house marketers can play to their strengths and bring in specialist support when it’s required?

Traditional marketing approaches… are they making a comeback?

With digital media all powerful and the focus on sustainability, there has been a temptation to leave more traditional marketing tactics, such as fun direct mailers, printed materials and publicity stunts, in the past.

But EMN members at the round table shared how they’ve used tangible marketing materials to get great results and cut through the ‘digital noise’.  The role of corporate hospitality and sponsorship in marketing and business development also came into the conversation.

There was also an acknowledgement that many business leaders in the engineering and manufacturing sectors are in their 50s, 60s and 70s – and that Gen-Z friendly tactics such as Instagram and TikTok could go over their heads.

However, messages still need to reach younger employees, who could influence senior staff members, and be the decision makers of the future too. There’s certainly no one size fits all approach to marketing in engineering and manufacturing.

Putting the B2C into B2B!

Building on the themes above, the round table discussed how more ‘fun’ could be injected into B2B marketing activities. Merch, gifts and competitions could have a role to play in this, and what’s more, marketers in engineering and manufacturing companies could look at B2C marketing tactics for inspiration and fresh approaches!

Choosing the right events…

Trade shows, expos and conferences are very much part of business life in the engineering and manufacturing sector. But are companies spending thousands on events which attract the wrong audiences for their business, just because they’ve always exhibited at them? Do they know what events are on their doorsteps?

The time, money and hard work that is invested in events can be considerable, so a well thought out event strategy is key.

Embracing technology…

The role of AI, marketing automation solutions and other tools was a major discussion point, with EMN members sharing experiences of how these solutions have helped them in their roles. But there was a sense that there’s a lot more to learn – and our round table guests were keen to swap tips on everything from ChatGPT to Canva design software.

This session, along with further input from the EMN membership, has helped us to shape the future of EMN Engineering and Manufacturing Marketers’ Meet-Up events.

Check out what we now have in store for 2024…

Wednesday 22nd May – Purpose driven marketing – how values can drive marketing and sales and grow your business.

Wednesday 26th June – Highlighting the role of marketing internally – selling its purpose and demonstrating success.

Wednesday 9th October – Putting the B2C into B2B marketing – bringing back traditional methods and making campaigns more fun.

Each event will feature marketing examples from EMN members, breakout sessions, a group feedback session and a Q and A.

All of these events will be held at Horizon Works’ Event Space at its HQ at Northumberland Business Park near Cramlington, Northumberland.

If you are interested or if there is anything you would like us to cover at Engineering and Manufacturing Marketers’ Meet-Up events, contact EMN’s Director of Development, Ailsa Anderson at ailsa@emn.org.uk.