Five years ago, Makino pursued a traditional marketing program that spent heavily on trade shows and trade publication advertising, with some investment in custom content magazines.
Late in 2005, however, the machine tool company launched a program of online seminars. Four-and-a-half years later, the company has produced more than 130 online seminars—an average of more than two a month. Now, custom content is central to Makino's marketing program.
“We did this for a variety of reasons, one of which was to help maintain Makino's position as an innovator and a thought leader in the manufacturing and machine tool industry,” said Mark Rentschler, Makino's marketing manager.
The online seminars have been a key to this approach. “That's been one of our most successful efforts,” Rentschler said.
The oldest webinar archived on Makino's website is “E33 High-Speed VMC for Graphite and Hard Milling,” which dates from December 2005. Among the more recent is “ArcFree Technology.” Most of the seminars range in length from 20 minutes to an hour, and they are classified into six categories: aerospace, automotive, die mold, EDM, micromachining and production machining.
The seminars have helped build an internal database of customers and prospects, which in turn has enabled the delivery of more custom content. “We're using content to drive engagement and develop discussions with our customers and prospects, and we're doing that in a way that shows how our premium products and high technology can help drive their businesses' success, performance and profitability,” Rentschler said.
He credits the online seminars with helping boost Makino's Web traffic by about 35% since 2005. Additionally, between 2006 and 2008, Makino's database of contacts increased by 25%, he said. During the downturn, which has battered the machine tool industry in North America, the database has contracted.
The detailed contact information contained in its database has enabled Makino to maintain a conversation with customers and prospects tailored to their specific needs. “We've been able to increase our marketing focus by being able to deliver relevant and specific content to each segment of the machining market,” Rentschler said.
Beyond the online seminars, Makino delivers a variety of custom content in other forms. It sends customized e-mail newsletters to customers and distributors. It also produces the EDMMatters blog, which covers electrical discharge machining and is written by Makino product manager Jeff Kiszonas.
Additionally, Makino publishes three custom magazines, which are generally produced twice a year. Competitive Mold Maker reaches about 16,000 to 17,000 subscribers. Competitive Production has about 8,000 to 9,000 subscribers, and Radical Departures has about 2,500 subscribers in the aerospace industry.
The magazines, which are produced by GyroHSR, rely on case studies from customers, but Rentschler said those can be harder to come by in these tough economic times. “They believe they have a competitive advantage” with Makino technology and don't want to publicize it to others in the sector, he said.