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Adapting to a changing business landscape – a Q and A with Miller International UK

Digital transformation was in the spotlight at last month’s Advanced Manufacturing Forum (AMF) Marketing Club, held in partnership with Horizon Works.

In marketing, digital transformation encompasses embracing new technologies to enhance the customer journey and build relationships.

The Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated digital transformation. As more traditional sales and marketing activities have been restricted or curtailed, many organisations have had to re-think how they market and sell their products.

We were delighted to be joined at the Marketing Club event – entitled Accelerating Digital Transformation – Reshaping Marketing for a Changing Landscape – by Barry Robison, Director of Marketing and Product Management at Miller International Ltd.

Miller, which is based in Cramlington, Northumberland, is a world leading manufacturer and designer of buckets and quick couplers for the construction, mining and associated industries.

Barry took delegates through Miller’s marketing journey – and showed the impact of digital transformation on the business.

Here, Barry provides further insight into how Miller has adapted to a changing business landscape…

What impact did the Coronavirus pandemic have on Miller?

In December 2019, the lockdown in Asia affected our supply chain, but we were able to pull together a COVID task force and adapt our working practices early on which helped us as the pandemic took hold in Europe and the US.

From a marketing perspective, the landscape changed very quickly. The original plans we had put in place for 2020 which included launching a new product line and participating at a number of major international trade shows which were no longer possible. We also had to quickly come to terms that traditional face to face sales meetings were restricted too.

Our marketing plans were overhauled and we had to quickly create a new marketing strategy to overcome the challenges we were faced with.

What did the new marketing strategy focus on?

We needed to deliver a strategy that managed both the acceptance and transitioning toward a new digital era and the absence of face-to-face networking and sales meetings due to the pandemic.

The key elements to this were staying visible, staying on-brand and true to our values, being consistent in how we were communicating, demonstrating a consistent tone of voice on social media, utilising social media platforms to connect with customers, prospects and partners, and making sure we were all saying the same thing with regard to products and services.

However, this was (and still is) a very sensitive time. We needed to show that we could emphasize with our customers, show solidarity and respect, be resilient and show that we could help.

The ‘Work Safe With Miller’ slogan was born from this and we focused on reassuring, supporting and inspiring our customers.

Our communications included messages around how Miller are making ours and our customers workplaces covid safe and secure.  In addition, we are providing useful product advice and support to help our customers who had been affected by COVID, as well as interesting information on our products to show how they could make a positive difference to customers.

What role did digital transformation play in Miller’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic?

During the early days of the first lockdown we quickly realised that customer behaviour was changing rapidly and that we need to launch a new website which was built with improved user functionality and designed to both support sales activity and drive inbound enquiries.

A crucial innovation was the new product configurator on the website, which helps customers to choose a product which is right for their machine.

To support our customers product qualification journey we have built a new suite of content which could be downloaded from the website, including PDF product brochures and sales sheets, and produced high quality videos.

We are also in the process of creating a virtual product demo of our new GT quick coupler series, which includes a live product walk around and can be delivered offline to anyone who can’t attend the live demonstration sessions.

In addition, we are delivering social media campaigns which are enhanced by graphics and video content, and we have implemented digital advertising campaigns on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Because we had refocussed our website into more segmented customer end applications, we were able to improve our electronic direct mail (EDM) marketing content, helping us to continue to connect with customers, stakeholders and prospects – and these communications were designed to align with our new strategy and messaging.

How did the cancellation and postponement of events affect Miller?

Due to the nature of our coupler and bucket products – and the industries we work with – large scale, international trade shows were a key part of our marketing mix. Several events we had planned to exhibit at, including expos in Italy, Ireland and Australia were postponed… and in some cases, they have been rearranged twice!

However, we have embraced virtual events and will be exhibiting at Hillhead Digital 2021 in June, where we’ll be able to show delegates product videos, online presentations and digital brochures, as well as use the GTX virtual product demo.

To learn more about digital transformation tools, click here.

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