Case Study # 9: Designing an Online Marketing Program for a Manufacturing Company

In 2015 we were engaged for a turnaround and restructuring project where we ended up designing an online marketing program for the Clients.  The results of which surpassed our expectations.  As a result, we decided to publish a case study on our designing an online marketing program.

The Client: A privately held specialty product manufacturer and installations company.  The Company manufactured an incline tram system that was primarily purchased by high end home owners who lacked access to their boat docks due to steep terrain or physical issues.  There were approximately a half dozen companies in the country that manufactured and sold this product.  Due to personal issues the owner of the business was unable to be involved for approximately 10 months.

We got the call to start the project in late January of 2015.  The Company was a mess, but we felt we could save it.  Time was crucial, like a lot of seasonal companies its key selling season was fast approaching. Typically, as the weather warms, people would start to think about using their boats and docks, and that is when the sales and maintenance season would start.  The Company had been in business for over 20 years, and the months of April and May generated the bulk of the Company’s sales leads.

The Task: To assume management of the Company on an emergency basis, stabilize operations, and jump start the sales process.This ultimately required our designing an online marketing program for the Client.

Issues: Like many small specialty manufacturers, the Company’s sales were very seasonal.  The Company was fast approaching the peak sales period for the year, and missing this sales window could force the Company into bankruptcy.  It was exceptionally important the Company implement a marketing program and start generating sales.

Secondary Issues:  The owner of the Company had mismanaged its operations for years.  There were numerous personnel problems, along with lack of documentation for key procedures due to micromanagement.  Further complicating the problems, the Company had been financially mismanaged resulting in a lack of proper maintenance for key equipment and a cash shortage.  Additionally, due to the micro-management from the owner, the Company lacked key personnel with the skills to run the daily operations.

Initially the Company was able to generate sales from existing inquiries and additional revenue from overdue maintenance on already installed system, but it soon became clear it would need to generate new prospective clients. Following the recruitment of new personnel to serve in key management positions, it became clear that we needed to find a way to significantly increase sales or the Company would not survive.  There was an added sense of urgency to this, as it was already mid-July and the peak lead generation months had passed.

Plan of Action:  The 1st action item was to examine the prior marketing programs and determine which had been the most successful in generating sales leads for the Company.  The Company had previously generated sales leads through its web site and through magazine advertising.  Due to the weak financial condition of the Company, it was not possible to start a magazine advertising program.  Throughout the years, a substantial number of sales leads had came through the Company’s website, which was significantly outdated and difficult to update.  However, the information gained through examining these sales leads gave us significant data to work with and plan a path forward.

The 1st order of business was to implement a new company website, one that followed proper search engine optimization guidelines. The 1st part of this process was to take a fresh look at our web pages and what we were trying to accomplish with each page.  We set up specific pages for existing customer interactions, and specific pages for prospective customers.  We were able to redesign the website, and launch over the course of the last weekend in July.

Once the new web site was launched, we implemented an analytics program that allowed us to have a significant amount of information concerning our customers and where they came from. Since the Company lacked the resources to hire an expensive web analytics firm, we turned to Google added Google Analytics to our web site, something that had not been done before.

The next part our new marketing strategy was to design an online marketing program.  The importance of this could not be understated.  It was the 1st week of August, and typically in August people would start thinking about putting their boats up the season in early September, and not about installing expensive tram systems.  Again we turned to Google with its Adwords campaigns.  Our strategy was fairly simple.  For those who were familiar with the product, we advertised the features of our product. For those potential customers who were unfamiliar with the product, we advertised the benefits of having our product.  The next part of our strategy was to geographically target our advertising to those areas of high demand.

Results:  We saw almost instant results.As we refined the SEO on our web pages, we saw a definite increase in the traffic to the Company’s website.  The online marketing campaign began generating sales leads within days.  The sales leads were high quality leads, and resulted in a substantial number of sales. This was even more impressive given how late in the boating season it was.   Google Adwords provided valuable feedback that allowed us to fine tune our online marketing strategy.  The month of September generated more leads than a typical May, which historically was the best month for sales leads, normally was able to produce. The month of December saw us finish with a record number of systems to produce over the winter months; and for the 1st time in over a decade the Company did not need to layoff any of its manufacturing personnel during the winter.

The owner of the Company was able to return to the business in late October of 2015.  Coral Capital ended its involvement with the Company in early January of 2016.  The Company is still in operation, and still generating sales from the system we implemented in 2015.

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