RODNEY STEEL, Chief Executive at the British Contract Manufacturers and Packers Association, looks at the market and marketing…
In recent weeks and since the election in May there have been a number of reports on the recovering British economy, with an increase in growth and higher employment. Whilst confidence in the business sector appears to be cautious, there is a more optimistic outlook than in recent years. This is definitely borne out by members of the British Contract Manufacturers and Packers Association (BCMPA) who, generally speaking, are reporting healthy sales figures with increases year-on-year and in some cases there is such demand that order books are full for the foreseeable future; all good news.
However, a frequently asked question by SMEs, which many BCMPA members are, is at what point should they start looking to expand and adopt a pro-active strategy towards marketing their company? When the order books are full? Or do they wait until business starts to drop off before pushing the panic button? The right time can sometimes be determined by the natural internal momentum within a company, but often it needs to be jump-started. Just because you have a website doesn’t mean the sales leads are going to come pouring in. There has to be more of a strategy.
A helping hand
One reason potential members contact the BCMPA is because they have begun to look at their own business in a different light and ask themselves the question: “How will new customers find us?” They want to understand what more they can do to stand out from the crowd and reach new customers. SMEs don’t tend to enjoy the luxury of having teams of marketing people in-house, however membership of the BCMPA offers an extremely targeted opportunity to gain real sales leads and to be visible in the selection process by a brand manager, retailer or new project start-up on the lookout for an outsourcing partner.
A potential client can put the immortal words ‘Contract Manufacturing’ or ‘Contract Packing’ into a search engine and the result would be that the BCMPA website would appear high up. The confidence of dealing with an associated body encourages customers to return to the BCMPA on a regular basis to search for additional outsourcing solutions.
Via the search facility on the BCMPA website, which attracts over 2000 unique page views a month, a client can first of all select the industry sector of interest, whether it be Food, Drink, Cosmetics/Toiletries, Pharmaceutical or Medical, DIY/Horticulture, Pet Care/Veterinary, Household/Automotive, Chemical/Agrochemical or Leisure & Entertainment. Clients can then drill down further to look for a specific service, whether it is filling a healthcare cream into a tube, a nutritional supplement powder into a sachet, assembling a gift pack for Christmas or providing fulfilment services for an e-commerce company. By selecting these criteria the search function will then provide a short list of potential BCMPA members able to undertake the project. Each member has their own profile page and the customer can read about the company and contact the member of the sales team directly, whilst being able to check for quality accreditations plus locate the geographical location via the Contract Packers’ map.
The BCMPA works on behalf of its members to engage with potential customers through a number of fronts. It provides marketing support for its members to stand-out and promote themselves via exhibitions and initiate opportunities to feature in the trade press. The Association also organises networking events and sponsors the ‘Contract Packer of the Year Award’ at the London Hilton in November. All of these give members a platform on which to start to raise the profile of their own companies and to raise their noses above the parapet. We often see that our more successful members tend to be the ones who embrace the idea of getting out and meeting real people, networking, exhibiting and creating a presence.
Building brand-recognition is not achieved overnight, so whether the order books are full or not so full, we encourage our members never to take their foot off the gas when it comes to marketing.