EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #madeinbritainhour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 19,500 followers and the results are fascinating. Previously this information was enjoyed by the audience at the time and then left to drift away in the Twittersphere, rarely read again. So, we have decided to capture some of the best comments and re-present them for a new audience and easy reference. Some of the responses have been edited.
This week we look at marketing the past, present and future life of your product.
Question one: Could some manufacturers benefit from using storytelling techniques to tell the history of the company and/or a product?
Response: I think it’s important to show the history of a small business to gain credibility in a very ‘fake’ market that social media allows to be created sometimes.
Response: Stories are great to engage with customers... your company has a story, told through its mission & vision, values & brand, your brand promise has a story, your product has a story from development through to its use by customers. We understand stories & they are great to pass on
Response: I think all businesses, especially within manufacturing, have a story to tell, each one unique to their business. Excell has an abundance of stories to share, from the origins of the company, the people that work here, the materials we use, the history of the machines, our craft, where components we produce end up I'm sure this is the same for others too
Response: They don't all tell the story though? some stories are really interesting outright whether you are a potential customer or not.
Response: They may not, but they certainly should! Storytelling is a great way of creating a community around your brand A way of sharing your journey with customers and fans
Response: I like the use of the word "fans" - this isn't something that usually comes up in discussions like this, perhaps it should?
Response: We've created a community, particularly on social media, where not all our followers would be considered 'leads'. But their support nevertheless is vital for what we want to achieve. Having them share and engage with our journey, especially with the power of W.O.M is vital
Response: There is the wider engagement too which is the younger generation who may be inspired to learn more about manufacturing?
Response: Exactly that! We're seeing a younger audience, especially on TikTok who have never seen, let alone heard of metal spinning! The craft is ancient, yet important to industry. The younger generation will be undoubtedly needed to advance the craft to new potentials
Response: Absolutely, story-telling is a very important part of marketing for all sectors not just manufacturing!
Made in Britain: Do you think story-telling is well done these days? or is too much of it abbreviated for social media?
Response: Choose the platform well. make it interesting and readers will follow. Relationships are built on knowing the people
Response: Good question! I think social media is a great place for customers to engage with companies but like mentioned with limited characters & trying to attract attentions for long periods of time, story telling has become diluted in years over social media!
Made in Britain: Is this where social media should pick up the headlines from a well-written piece on a website, or even the use of film clips?
Response: Yes most definitely, we tell our stories through blog posts & direct individuals from social media to read the full story on our website, that way we have a chance to go into detail! Social media only allows you to give a snippet of content
Made in Britain: Can we ask who writes the stories?
Response: Our marketing department writes our hot topics, blog posts and case studies and other content pieces that tell a story!
Response: We supply to the theme park and experience attraction sectors globally and there no better story-tellers than them. Many businesses could learn from their techniques.
Response: Definitely! Marketing has developed into the opportunity to show rather than tell the benefits of your brand. People tend to respond better to concepts and companies with a rich, even relatable, background - which sharing the history of the brand can achieve!
Response: It also shows the innovators from the "me-toos" and that is even more important!
Response: The story of the company and people is of great interest to many. As humans we are curious about others lives and what got them to where they are. It is the same for products, why were they developed? How have they improved? We all like reading stories. And the beauty of it is that we can use storytelling in everything, our content, social media, branding, videos. Brochures…
Made in Britain: Have you come across any products with QR codes where you can actually scan the code and read the story? or in fact has anyone?
Response: Yes, we use them with our clients to direct them to landing pages where we have set up particular stories for that campaign. Most corporates use them as well to direct audience to their story
Response: QR has been around for many years and still has not gained much traction. It works well for ticketing agencies and events companies. Except for those who do not have smartphones
Response: Some foreign markets use them more than here in the UK. It also depends on the demographic
Response: QR codes are a great way to inform and tell a product story - we do have clients that use them to engage with their customers
Response: Do they use them on their actual products?
Response: On the product packaging
Response: More companies could do this in many different ways. The applications of QR codes could open up new avenues for some sectors
Response: We use a QR code to direct users to our digital catalogue and we update the digital file regularly with new products. It can be hard convincing everyone to use the code, but it saves having to do print runs all the time, saving money and producing less waste
Response: More companies could do this in many different ways. The applications of QR codes could open up new avenues for some sectors
Response: QR codes are incredibly useful, maybe your term "convincing" could be augmented with the word "educating"?
Response: What skillset is needed to write a good story of a product/company?
Response: An ability to craft stories and use words to touch hearts and minds....sorry I know it sounds corny but storytelling is an art & wordsmiths are best at it. However the components of the story are found in the company's DNA, in its brand promise, its testimonials and validations
Response: In depth knowledge of the product or company. An understanding of the market and the customers Good communication skills. An ability to listen and commitment to do so
Response: Some companies may struggle to have the historical knowledge in-person?
Response: We typically interview stakeholders, customers and also scan the internet for any mention about them to get the gems of their individual stories. We look for their longest-standing customers who usually can immediately tell you the company's story in their own words :)
Response: So is it worth investing in a professional to work with the company to bring these stories out?
Response: Yes it does as they will help you to bring the story to life. You may be able to do it yourself if you are skilled in that field, or have the resources, but if you don't there is nothing wrong in bringing in help to craft it
Response: We have stories to tell about our environmental credentials, our sustainability, our people, our quality as a madeinbritain manufacturer or supplier...as a business we have stories to share that engage and create loyalty
Made in Britain: Do you think that social enterprises are better at this than perhaps other companies?
Response: Their story is very much emotive, so it feels like they are better at it than others, but it needn't be. #Products are used by people, and we must remember to always bring the human element into our stories,,,our people and our #customers
Response: Having run a Social Enterprise/Charity I worked with all the Support agencies who brought clients to our 14k Warehouse. There is empathy, but their survival doesn't have the right business model. These operations come and go. A good community model, I think is better. That's us
Response: Their challenge is not their story, but their business model and operations, factors that unfortunately many charities - and certainly not all as there are some great examples - are not well known for and need guidance and help to get it right
Response: Storytelling helps people understand your business and allows them to engage with the brand
Response: Absolutely. Organisations, big or small, have a story to tell of their history and the products and or services they have helped bring to market. It's something that has worked very well for us at Europlaz.
Response: For sure! Everyone can benefit from story telling techniques, even your own staff may not know the history of the company or some products! We want to explore animated info videos to help potential customers more in the future.
Response: And don't forget your staff are your best story tellers!
Response: That's a really valid point that the staff may not know the story/history. It is one way of bringing them closer to an organisation in getting them to understand how they fit it to history
Response: Totally! If a company has a rich history then new staff can feel a sense of pride in that they are continuing and a part of that history. As said before, everyone loves a good story and will therefore enjoy retelling it to others increasing your reach etc.
Response: My instinct says yes, but I cannot think of where a company's story has factored into my buying decision; it has always been functionality, quality & price. Maybe a good story boosts visibility & awareness so the co's product at least gets looked at.
Response: It may not factor directly, but it will help you to connect and engage with the brand
Response: This is a good point and it's why I have styled my case study writing in a way that is from the perspective of the customer That way, we can integrate storytelling into what we do and at the same time provide useful information in the 'consideration' stage of the buyer journey
Response: Makes sense - could achieve a piggybacking, multiplied impact effect.
Response: Exactly that! I'm hoping to be more strategic to achieve our objectives with content marketing as a useful tool in helping us get to where we want to be
Response: Andrew, I agree with your points on the buying decision factors. I suspect that most in the B2B world are the same, however B2C is a different matter where millions appear to buy a pointless product based on the story. Know your Customers
Response: I guess I am more circumspect in my spending now - when I was a kid the story definitely went further :-)
Response: As @ExcellMetalSpin said earlier, a lot of this is about boosting visibility. In certain sectors some form of storytelling may make a difference - e.g. export markets, foreign tourists in the UK?
Response: There are definitely brands with a lot of cachet, but I am struggling to think of associated stories, e.g. Burberry, Rolls Royce, Apple, etc. Can't decide whether the market has established their pedigree more than their own marketing? (I want to say their mktg has been great...)
Response: The bigger brands do it all the time
Response: Business stories are great - our family-owned business can trace its roots all the way back to 1601!
Made in Britain: 1601 - now that is history and must be one of the oldest of the Made in Britain members. Do you have the story available of 400 years of history?
Response: We do, but it'll take more than 280 characters (winking face emoji) We started out producing all forms of cutlery, knives, blades, scissors, surgical instruments, razors and eventually surgical blades. We were even involved in the development of the first gamma sterile packs! Since the late 1990's our business has been all about #medicalpackaging and we are now the sole UK volume manufacturer of#selfsealsterilisationpouches
Response: Yes very much so. It’s the easiest of ways to show your products
Response: The story of how LINIAN was founded by Wes and Jean, and named after their two children, Lynne and Ian, always went down well at trade shows. It helped us connect with installers and often they would return the next year and ask how the family are doing :)
Response: I do like the way some companies work in their history into the giveaways and promotional materials. Give them a story rather than a pointless gimmick?
Response: And if you do use giveaways, let them continue telling the story...there are many innovative and clear giveaways that are part of the story and carry on giving for a very long time.
Response: Pets are also a good eyecatcher in storytelling. Who skips passed a cute photo of a small dog?
Question two: Can some manufacturers differentiate their products by making them easier to repair rather than replace and commit to making spares available?
Response: After-sales and available spares are essential to differentiate your offering when you’re trying to attract new customers
Response: This links well with last week's topic of sustainability. Long lifetimes are definitely a perk of a product that is worth shouting about. There are a couple other, related, things you could think about too, including how (if any) maintenance is needed
Response: Product design will have a big influence here. Manufacturing companies can create new revenue streams for training repair and maintenance to subcontractors, enabling them to create new jobs.
Response: Certain businesses and their product / service offerings could certainly integrate repairs as a value-added service on top of their initial offering Another alternative is to promote sustainability / circular economy. Materials that can be reused etc. We tend to supply components in wider supply chains across various industries, The 'tool' / mandrel is held for up to 1 year from the previous order, making it easier for our customer to access more components for their products. Quality also helps make components longer lasting
Response: Stick with us for Q3 and 4 as that is discussing this very point about re-use. The value add service also keeps customers close rather than them looking elsewhere to replace/repair
Response: Exactly, you build a relationship with the customer who may end up paying more / purchasing more simply due to how reliable your business is, and the ease of service
Response: From a consumer POV I wish that more companies would, but working in a production environment I know that it can't always be done. A lot of consumers want cheap and replaceable and don't have the inclination/knowledge to repair a broken product.
Made in Britain: Customers are being educated by lobbyists and Gov push. Should the industry lead the way? Explore new market opportunities by presenting sustainable products and services?
Response: Cheap and replaceable is one thing but when you've done that multiple times it does get expensive without realising it?
Response: Totally, and that's what the suppliers/manufacturers of cheaper solutions rely on. We live in a fast-paced, disposable society with most folks constantly looking forwards...
Response: There is also the issue with "time" - if something breaks it is often quicker to replace than wait for repair? this is something else that needs to be factored in
Response: Is this because we do not have all the repair shops in the high street anymore? They could offer a replacement while the original is being repaired. Like Garages do now.
Response: I love this question... do we have a right to repair and reuse? how does that impact growth in #manufacturing? Does it then justify a higher price point for quality?
Response: Yes Noreen, it is a fascinating question... Do we have the right to buy and throw? The expanding populations of the world will ensure new customers. repair and recycle will reduce waste. Repair and maintenance will be new sectors to develop.
Response: And we don't just throw things that are broken. Once a fashion changes or a new gadget comes out then things get thrown that are absolutely 100% fine
Response: This is the fine line we have to manage - grow the market but encourage repair and reuse
Response: There are marketing "tricks" that sort of go against this - 5-year parts guarantee, you then work the labour cost in to replace the parts and you are probably better off buying a new machine?
Response: This is where the manufacturer has to think about their business model. It appears that there is Gov push to go down this route so better to be ahead of the curve than behind it.
Response: I think we shall see a change in those promotions as the public gets used to using what it has. This last year has been an eye-opener for many. They had to fix and continue to use, so those sort of promotions really sting. At the end of the day, the public votes with its purse.
Response: The right to repair or reuse should justify a reduced price. . The good quality product #sustainability framework should include a longer shelf-life and a reduction in maintenance.
Response: There will be a period of education and catch up for young people. Those of us who are of mature years and experience will remember the days when repair shops were in every town. This aspect of the circular economy will create many new jobs and businesses
Response: Do you think there's an appetite to return to this 'old' economy of repair shops? I think the way consumerism operates means we're too far removed from that stage now: the focus should be on ensuring products are sustainable not necessarily repairable
Response: Maybe the issue is to drill down to the quality of components going into the products? would a slight shift in that lengthen the life of a machine? but then the company wouldn't get the repeat sale when it needed replacing?
Response: This is something we often grapple with. Our products do have long lifetimes, and so to drive repeat customers, we have to ensure high quality so that they might return to make use of a different service/product. It does work but requires you to know your market v. well.
Response: More companies are looking at the 'circular economy' and the shift towards elimination of waste through better designed materials, products and processes.
Response: THIS! Shopify's API allows co-development which expands the product & allows users to customise it; IBM switched completely to a svc model; I hate HP printer s/ware to the point where I don't want their (v good) printers. The list goes on...
Response: The current culture of throw away will need to be changed and more of saving the environment with using items longer, repair rather than replace, a bit of an awareness of products life
Response: It can only be a good thing to recycle and reuse more. We certainly promote it as one of our advantages and just in the medical device market, the repair market is said to be $11Bn!
Response: Big numbers that prove the need for a repair service. Repair, reuse and recycle.
Response: Indeed! Commercial benefits as well as green
Response: The country has got into the three words over the last year. Hands, Face, Space etc. So these three could be the post-pandemic words: Repair, Reuse, Recycle.
Response: Great idea
Question three: Should manufacturers invest more to develop new products so once at their end of life they can be easily recycled?
Response: Developing for recyclable products is easier than getting buy in from a customer base that is very price focussed. We offer recycled plastics instead of timber but at a premium price and even councils are now always keen to invest in a more recycled or recyclable product
Response: Is there an added benefit to recycled plastic over timber in that the lifetime is longer with lower maintenance costs?
Response: Yes there is for sure and they require no maintenance but when capital budgets are being used to purchase they can’t allocate whole life costs from other budgets so once again it comes down to price.
Response: In terms of circular economy, the materials we work with can be easily recycled and reused, The Galvanised steel we use is from old car parts for example For us, we're looking at ways to be even more sustainable within our niche craft and have R&D projects dedicated to this. Limited supply of Steel around the world has driven steel prices exponentially Recycling unwanted / unused products that contain materials like Steel will play a big role this year
Response: It's definitely worth thinking about! We developed our sustainable alternative to timber hoarding, FenceSafe Hoard and offer the ability to return the system back to us at the end of a project, for it to be cleaned and reused on another job!
Response: This is another interesting aspect of sustainability. Looking at new business models to fit into a changing marketplace.
Response: That sounds a really interesting initiative. Return and re-use. Is it popular?
Response: It is as many sites who use hoarding systems are construction sites where they are be law expected to protect both staff and public. So the ability to hire the product and give back once finished is proving very popular! It's also helps these sites with their sustainability... ..initiatives as well!
Response: How many times can they be reused?
Response: Our hoarding can be reused multiple times, and once the product has come to the end of its reuse lifecycle, it is crushed down into fragments, which is then recycled!
Response: In an ideal world, yes. Our products can largely be recycled but this does not mean that each local authority has the necessary procedures in place with which to recycle them. Something has to be done at a central (gov) level to ensure efficient recycling facilities are available
Response: We are still a long way away from that. The national infrastructure needs planning and investment. And the public needs education on how to value and look after products and extend their lifespan
Response: Hopefully, some of these 'level up' plans for the North will come to fruition
Response: I definitely feel the drive to recycle has legs for business & sales models e.g. sell a product w. a 'we take trade-ins' plan to secure a subsequent sale & to act as a focal point for returned products to be custom-recycled.
Response: Looking at new business models that fit the feedback from the customer are important. There are many opportunities out there
Response: A client was introducing recycling and end-of-life plan for parts of the #products range, but that in itself is a long-term programme and not easily done overnight. - it needs capex investment, space allocation and resourcing
Response: All products where possible should be repairable and everything should by recyclable.
Response: Companies reducing their use of virgin materials can have a big impact on their carbon footprint. Lack of recycling means waste becomes a concern as unused material is often sent to landfill. For recycling to be effective thought must be given to product design and production.
Question four: Can manufacturers benefit by explaining the source of any recycled materials in their products?
Response: Things like plastics from the sea and plastic bags being recycled are great ‘good news’ stories and can really help to engage customers whether they are passionate about saving the planet or not
Response: You certainly could use this to your advantage, especially with customers who resonate with the message
Response: Yes Yes Yes! Helping to clean up our seas and recycling yours and my waste plastic from our homes! There might even be a wee bit of your rubbish in your next muggi?
Response: This is part of the story...especially if they are helping to create a better community, or give back to society, or help to conserve the environment, nature and oceans...the story lives on...
Response: CSR is part of the push by Gov' Large corporations have worked on this for 20 years. Through the Circular economy it is cascading down to smaller companies and the consumer. we are still at the beginning of the process.
Response: This can help set you out from competitors. As consumers become more environmentally-concerned, it will be a requirement for any business to prove how sustainable their products are.
Response: Do we need to add the word "easily" to recycled? or efficiently recycled?
Response: I think the go-to term currently is "widely" recycled--but, as you can see with food packaging, in particular, even this has its caveats
Response: Widely recycled means one thing, but where it is recycled can be more important. Being recycled is more than just the act of recycling, shipping, repacking etc
Response: A lot of our print has the message “easily recycled” on it. Anything to make the buyer/s understand and make a quick decision
Response: All manufacturers that use #recycled materials should shout out and be very proud about letting everyone know. After all we are more conscious then ever of #sustainability , our environment whether an item is #recyclable
Response: Certainly! It's no bad thing to let customers know the source especially if it helps them to make a positive purchasing choice. Everyone is lot more aware of the environment, pollution, etc and many customers try to be as environmentally friendly as poss.
Response: Unfortunately not all businesses are able to use recycled materials in their manufacturing process. However, recycled materials can be used countless times in packaging and renewable energy sourcing is always good.
Response: Infrastructure, co's are often req'd to budget end-of-life dilapidations & environmental restoration costs into their projects; perhaps this will start to feature in consumables, too. This would boost a recycling industry.
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