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Four Things That Machine Shops Need To Know Before Starting an Online Marketing Effort

July 7, 2010
Done properly, promoting your machine shop on the Internet can open a world of opportunities to your business.But, before you even consider investing a dollar on Internet marketing, here are four things you need to understand.

The cost of pay-per-click advertising (circled in red) is based on the number of times web-surfers follow the link to the advertiser’s site: They usually appear on a yellow background, if they are at the top of a web page, or a white background if they are on the side.

1. Learn Some Buzzwords
Just as machine shops have their own “language” — terms, phrases, definitions — so does the Internet. If you are going to get your business online, you need to know how to communicate with the professionals that are going to help you succeed there. These a few of the concepts that matter most to your efforts:

  • Search Engine: Software that allows you to search the Internet for specific information. An example would be Yahoo or Google. Potential customers looking for services like yours will almost certainly access a search engine to locate their options.
  • Search Engine Optimization: The use of various techniques that allow your website to be more easily found on the Internet. Identifying yourself effectively will raise your profile to potential customers.
  • Search Engine Marketing: This involves paying the Search Engine companies (e.g. Google) to advertise your site. These are referred to as “pay-per-click” ads because you only pay for them if someone clicks on them. They usually appear on a yellow background if they are at the top of a web page and a white background if they are on the side.
2. Know Why Customers Buy If you remember one thing from this column, it should be the reason that people buy. Anyone who has run a machine shop should be able to relate to the old saying “No one ever buys a drill, they buy holes.” If a person has a problem, they look for a solution.

The benefits that your product delivers is that solution. It could be custom gearing or metal finishing, or even finished assemblies or fabrications. Your website needs to focus clearly on the benefits your product supplies. Don't tell your customers that your gears are made of the highest quality metals. Tell them that they last X% longer than gears made from lower-quality materials, or with less expertise. The increase in service life offered by your product is an example of a benefit you’d be providing to the buyer.

3. Understand How Customers Buy
Another thing that will never change is the purchasing process. Prospects identify a problem, then they search for and explore possible avenues for solving this problem. Between 50 and 85% of this research is done online. Most important, this means that your website needs to be found by your customers in order for it to be part of the prospects research process.

You can facilitate this search process by using various Internet strategies, such as pay-per-click ads and search engine optimization. So, if you run a shop that specializes in laser cutting metal parts for the aerospace industry, you can use these tools to make sure that you are found when a prospect searches for a shop that provides these services.

4. Educate your customers
Most important, you need to remember that your website is for your customers’ use, not yours. It should not shout “BUY BUY BUY”; rather, it should say: “Trust Me, I will help you”.

The best way to do this is by providing your prospects with enough information to solve their problem. This is accomplished by providing prospects with product data sheets via your website. Properly structured, an educational website for your customers can deliver a high number of sales leads to your company at a very low cost.

Having a firm understanding of these four points will help machine shop owners and operators to become educated consumers when they recognize that the time has come for them to find and hire the right people to get their Internet marketing efforts running.

Josh Kerbel, MBA, the is Managing Director of Sales Funnel, a digital marketing agency that specializes in sales lead generation and prospect management systems. For a copy of his free white paper, 8 Steps to Internet Marketing Success, email [email protected]

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