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The best approach to updating a manufacturing website

Updating a manufacturing website

Until recently, most American manufacturers didn’t have much use for a comprehensive web & brand strategy. The need just hasn’t been there – until now.

Manufacturers today are discovering that with the right strategy their previously underutilized, untouched and, unloved website can be transformed into a forward-reaching, powerhouse recruitment and service differentiation tool.

With the total costs of US manufacturing dropping (compared to Asia), US manufacturers are seeing revenue growth ahead. A different future than what was forecasted just a few years ago.That change however, exacerbates a problem that manufacturers have been increasingly struggling with over the last several years:

Finding, recruiting, hiring, and retaining good entry-level, career-minded people.

It’s not a secret that most manufacturers are in a constant struggle to find good, quality, career-focused, long-term employees. The resurgence of US manufacturing in the past 10 years has not only made finding the solution more urgent, it is exacerbated by the need for entry-level workers walking on the job with a higher set of skills compared to their counterparts from the previous decade.

 

The competition for that dwindling talent pool is fierce, and yet your manufacturing brand (website, internal/external communications strategy) hasn’t been touched since 2002 – if at all!

The most common way a prospective employee checks out the company is via the website (especially the computer/code savvy ones). The site and overall experience however, is old, out-of-date, unimpressive, and uninspiring, and creates more questions than answers, and oftentimes eliminates your business from serious contention before you ever knew you were being considered.

If your first impression was that the company in question was old and out-of-date, what would you think about the company culture, their ability to innovate, and subsequently your ability to be a part of something extraordinary, a place to start and develop your career? Not terribly encouraging. Maybe you apply, more than likely you’ll just move along to someplace more compelling.

 

Manufacturing Spotlight: UGN

Manufacturing Industry Website and Brand Development: A Case Study:

 

Our client, UGN had this challenge. CEO, Peter Anthony, recognized however that the solution wasn’t something that would be solved entirely by HR. This was at its core a marketing problem. Unfortunately, like the majority of medium-sized manufacturers, they didn’t have a marketing department, and as an OEM auto-parts manufacturer they didn’t need one.

Peter recognized the heaviest lift in the communications channel is the first impression and thiers needed a dramatic change.

First, we completely redesigned the website and brought it up to current web standards.

Second, the core messaging had to change. Even though UGN had an identifiable and proprietary logo, their Brand had not been thoroughly developed to support a focused web-based communications strategy. After weeks of interviews throughout the organization,  the brand strategy was reorganized to highlight the values of UGN as a cohesive team, the high quality of their products, and perhaps most importantly, emphasize the incredible work UGN does to develop the new hires into long-term employees.

Our proposed strategy sought to capture, engage, and elevate the conversation of employee value and their stories.

  • We developed an interactive 3D application that animated their products and how they work, to bring a much needed coolness factor to the site specifically to feel relevant and engage younger applicants.

 

UGN is unique that they are well ahead of the curve when it comes to manufacturing communications. That is a formidable position when outbound communications creates a significant advantage toward recruitment.  

The key to success in manufacturing communications is having a partner who understands digital design, brand development, employee/company culture and how it all ties together.

Revamping your website is a good start, but without a serious attention to how your business communicates and what it’s communicating, the solution is only skin deep.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://www.thealliancelabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/jon-schickedanz.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Jon Schickedanz is the founder of The Alliance Labs, a full-service web development and digital communications firm specializing in communications strategy and execution for manufacturing and light industrial organizations. For information about how we can help call 312-278-3550 or contact us at info@thealliancelabs.com[/author_info] [/author]
How do I update my website, Overwhelmed,

How to update my website: A guide for manufacturers

Manufacturer’s Website Maintenance 101

Does this sound familiar?:

Your boss says to you “ We need to get the website updated”.

O…kaaaay…..

How do you even know where to begin? 

You work for a manufacturing company. You’re not a web developer.  If they held a gun to your head, maybe, just maybe you could figure out how to login and change a setting or two, or on the best of all days, you could install a plugin.

But that’s about it.

The website was originally built years ago, before you or maybe even your boss were employed there. The original developer or agency is now a mystery, or long gone. Or (which is more common than you’d think) they’ve just stopped returning your calls.

What does a manufacturer need with a new or refreshed website anyway? It’s not like your company is spending a lot of time nurturing inbound web-leads, right?

Most manufacturers believe their site is mainly brochureware – a website built because your company needed one and someone’s brother’s cousin built the thing for cheap 10 years ago and there it sits…..untouched, unused….unloved.

Why now? Why have smart, forward-thinking manufacturers and their teams started to take a second look at their heretofore out-of-date online properties? 

Our manufacturing clients are telling us the biggest incentive they have to refocus and refresh their online experience and potentially impact nearly every aspect of the business and its ability to compete comes down to something most manufacturers have previously never really considered vital to their success – Brand.

The word has been all the rage of late and in many places misused and misunderstood.

Brand is more than about defining who you are, why you matter, your values, and the difference you make for your employees and customers, it’s about how those ideas live in the world outside your business in the minds of your potential clients, but also your potential manufacturing employees.

Manufacturing Spotlight: UGN

How can an updated website solve my recruitment challenges?

Here are some of the biggest complaints we’ve heard about manufacturing recruitment and how the conversation around brand creates can make a difference:

  • We’re not attracting the right talent – We need to attract better, more qualified candidates:
    • How do we define ourselves as a great place for young talent to start their careers?
    • How do we create a company culture that makes that true?
  • We’ve got no pipeline for executive advancement/legacy prep.
    • What are our values and how can we impart them to our team so they feel invested in the organization to stick with us for the long-term?
  • Too much turnover, we lack any cohesive plan for employee engagement – inspiration is lacking.
    • Does our team have a mission we can all get behind. Are we just cutting bricks or are we building a cathedral?
  • We’re seeing competition from Amazon/Alibaba so we need to promote what makes us different. Why should our customers stick with us?
    • Define the value beyond the lowest price. If you truly own what makes you unique then defending your value in the face of competition gets easier.

These are just a few of the issues manufacturers are telling us are the reasons that for the first time in their history they’re taking a serious look at their company’s brand and their forward facing digital efforts.

So if the boss is sick of the current state of the website, chances are they’re seeing the most visible part of the problem. The next step is helping them understand just how comprehensive and impactful the right approach can be.

Next Article: The Best Approach to Updating A Manufacturing Website

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://www.thealliancelabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/jon-schickedanz.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Jon Schickedanz is the founder of The Alliance Labs, a full-service web development and digital communications firm specializing in comunications strategy and execution for manufacturing and light industrial organizations. For information about how we can help call 312-278-3550 or contact us at info@thealliancelabs.com[/author_info] [/author]

Structured Data Markup Basics

Advanced SEO: Structured Data Markup

Recently Structured Data guru and Alliance Partner, Eric Franzon presented a primer on SEO and the power behind structured data markup. It is an extremely important aspect of SEO that few development firms or marketing agencies understand, and yet (besides your content) it’s the most important tool you can use to improve organic search results.

This presentation will give you the basics of structured data markup, where and why it’s used and how vital it is to help the search bots find, categorize and best contextualize your content’s relevance.

Structured Data Markup: The Basics

The Alliance Labs Presents – Structured Data Markup Basics from The Alliance Labs on Vimeo.

For more information about how structured data markup can help boost your organic search results call The Alliance Labs at +1 (312) 278-3550 or contact us here.

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Employees As Secret Weapons

Previously, we’ve talked about the Lean Canvas Modelbuilding block questionsvalue propositionspivots and empathy. The one thing that’s key to success as we build and grow our businesses? Employees. It turns out we won’t be successful until we’ve convinced our teams to come along for the ride.

51% of employees are looking for a job at any one time and 91% left their employer the last time they switched jobs according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report. And, only 21% of employees strongly agree their performance is managed in a way they find motivating and only 33% are engaged in their jobs.

Why mention all this engagement data? It turns out that annually, actively disengaged employees cost up to $605B in lost productivity. Indeed, the annual cost of active disengagement is in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Makes one sit up and take notice.

We believe that the hallmark of disengagement is a company without a firm business strategy. A strategic plan is the glue that holds the elements of a company together. This is true regardless if these elements are customer facing or not. Therefore, demonstrating why employees are tied to successful outcomes is key to the glue being the hardcore stuff at the hardware store versus run of the mill white glue.

Your teams need to know the brand essence, who the customers are, what their pains are and how the product/service uniquely provides a solution to those pains. The knowledge is a roadmap for people to do their best work regardless of function (e.g., sales, marketing, finance, operations, manufacturing). Furthermore, your teams’ opinions should be solicited and heard.

A solid strategic roadmap gives your teams reason to believe. And, it makes them feel that they have skin in the game and incentive to do their best. Consequently, when they do their best, business metrics improve. The Gallup data show that successful engagement programs help companies with higher productivity, higher sales, lower absenteeism and higher profitability.

How have you engaged your employees in pursuit of your business strategy? We would love to talk to you further about how critical they are to your success. Call 312.208.7329 or email parissa@sixensestrategy.com for a free 30 minute phone consultation.

This post was reposted with permission from Sixense Strategy. Originally posted May 1, 2017 on Sixense Strategy’s Blog.