HubSpot for Manufacturing - Is it the Right Tool?

Ed Marsh | Feb 16, 2021

Marketing Tools vs. Revenue Growth Expertise

What portion of Microsoft Word and Excel features do most of us use? Very little.

If you've got top of the line Trumpf laser cutters, and no experienced operators or welders, what's the value?

Machines painted by your state of the art Nordson powder coating system won't look great in a year if you use low quality consumables.

You get all this - the tools are only tools.

You need expertise, and advice from others. You don't try to build your own.

But for some reason many industrial manufacturers approach digital marketing differently. They take an ill advised DiY approach to it, assuming that it can't be more complicated than the stuff they do for their core business - after all, they reason, it's just graphic design and content publishing.

Except there is a lot to it. The nuance and detail are critical to short-term, and long-term aggregate results.

The tools require digital marketing, sales, industry and strategy perspectives. In other words, practical revenue growth experience is necessary to extract value from tools like HubSpot marketing automation (or Marketo, Pardot - SalesForce Marketing Cloud, or other related products.)

Yet many manufacturers start their journey by selecting a tool and asking their in-house team to work with it.

So let's look at HubSpot for manufacturing and understand whether it might be the right fit for you.

HubSpot for Manufacturing

Obviously "manufacturing" is an enormous category. I use it to refer primarily to industrial manufacturing, particularly capital equipment, and related consumables, products and services.

hubspot for manufacturing can put the power of marketing automation in the hands of small manufacturing marketing teamsFirst of all, what's the financial justification?

Marketing automation, including integrated website hosting for personalization and dynamic content, integrated CRM, capability for custom objects (e.g. machines by SN,) account-based marketing tools, live chat and chat bots, email marketing, sales playbooks, multiple sales pipelines, technical and customer service ticketing, and a contact database might well cost $35,000 for a typical lower-middle market industrial manufacturer. 

Is it worth it? That depends.

The answer is yes ONLY if you USE it. HubSpot is not a silver bullet for manufacturing marketing.

Want to take a deeper dive into the financial justification of marketing automation and HubSpot for Manufacturing? Download this guide.

Add to the software cost some technical resources, strategy support, at least one capable in-house marketing operations person, content creation, some design and video resources, perhaps some paid ads, and you're talking >$200K/year. (Don't forget you can probably drop SalesForce and net some serious savings against this! And keep in mind that realistically an appropriate industrial marketing budget would be approximately 5% of revenue, and much of this digital activity may reduce your reliance on expensive trade shows.)

So with a practical understanding of cost, let's look at how it might help.

Buyers, Consumers, Leads

Successful manufacturing marketing hinges on a deep understanding of buyer behaviors.

Obviously they've changed. And they're continuing to change rapidly - particularly as consumer experiences become increasingly refined and buyers come to expect that sort of experience in their B2B engagements too. Further, rising generations of engineers and other technical buyers to whom B2B industrial marketing must appeal, have very different habits than their predecessors.

Therefore a refined website experience, chat options, personalized content, self-service and educational content are buyer expectations.

Attracting buyers to your site requires that you must first address Google's expectations for optimized content, sophisticated SEO, proper technology, and great user experience.

And these combined expectations (buyers' and Google's) are why for many manufacturers HubSpot is such a powerful tool. In one integrated (albeit complex package) it delivers the tools necessary to satisfy the stakeholders - including sales, management and customer service.

But Remember, They're Only Tools

Too often a manufacturing company leader will compare a comprehensive suite of tools like HubSpot and the support resources required, against the current spend of $50/month on Constant Contact and a "Director of Marketing" that mails brochures, coordinates magazine ads and arranges for carpeting in trade show booths.

They may opt to invest in some portion of marketing automation assuming it's a sort of silver bullet, but undertake the rest of the project on a DiY basis with misplaced confidence.

That's a mistake - it wastes money on software without driving results. 

Worse, it invariably confirms their suspicion that marketing isn't right for manufacturing companies - they tried it, and proved that it's not effective.

What a shame....

As powerful as HubSpot can be in enabling B2B manufacturing marketing, it doesn't happen easily or automatically. Getting found early in the buying journey, getting clicked, establishing credibility, answering questions and providing layers of educational material, building systems to improve sales efficiency, creating and moving projects, and consolidating metrics to report on the return of the entire process at each step all require work. Top-line revenue results only come from diligent, long-term tactical execution against a carefully designed strategic revenue growth plan.

So, short answer:

IF you are committed to bringing your digital game, customer experience, and top-line revenue growth efficiency up to a reasonable standard - then HubSpot is a wonderful platform to build on and compares very favorably by many metrics to Marketo, SalesForce Marketing Cloud (Pardot) and others.

BUT, IF you are hoping to spend a bit of money on a tool that will magically make it all happen - e.g. a silver bullet - then don't waste the money.