The Northern Powerhouse has been reinvigorated with a £400m funding pot to support growth and further improve the region’s economy. Manufacturing is one of four industries earmarked as pivotal to the North’s economic success and everyone wants a slice of the cash pie. Which means it’s time to review your marketing strategy and position your business to capitalise on this opportunity. This article shows why it’s more crucial than ever to ensure your marketing plans are fit for purpose.
Position your Business for a Piece of the Pie
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund’s (NPIF) announcement of a £400m funding pot for SME businesses with growth potential gives businesses, like yours, the opportunity to invest and expand. Funding is available as:
- microfinance loans of £25,000 - £100,000
- business loans of £100,000 - £750,000
- equity finance of up to £2m
To capitalise on this opportunity, your business will need to complete a loan application which will require a strong business case supported by a marketing plan.
Research shows that the most successful marketers have documented strategies, so it’s worth committing your plans to paper. Clarifying your organisational goals as the basis for your marketing strategy will help your business clearly articulate its unique proposition, strengths and capabilities. All of which can be copy and pasted into the loan application. Plus, you get the opportunity to review your current marketing capability and ensure its future-proofed (more on this in a moment).
Prepare to Take Advantage of Digital Improvements
Digital is another focus of the government’s Northern Powerhouse plan. Despite the North being home to one-third of the UK’s key tech clusters, including Manchester (the largest outside London), digital technology has lacked sufficient investment for years.
The investment will see the roll out of full fibre networks that allow businesses to access gigabit speeds. This will increase productivity, reduce inefficiencies and allow businesses to offer better services. All of which is designed to boost profits. Plus, the financing will mean more digital marketing training and proficiency in the north. Expect improved systems, processes, apps and experts that you can harness to improve your manufacturing business.
If slow internet speed has prevented your organisation from pursuing digital marketing in the past, prepare to take advantage of this opportunity. Moving to digital marketing for manufacturing companies is not a small step and needs a well-thought-out plan. Many of your competitors will already be well-versed in digital marketing or preparing to make the most of this investment. Ensure you have a marketing strategy in place to keep up with the competition.
Create a Strong Employer Brand to Attract Talent
Northern businesses report they struggle to attract the highly skilled workforce they need. This is, in part, due to problems with transport links between northern towns and cities which mean organisations have to recruit from the local area. But northern businesses also face challenges from a northern skills gap which means there are fewer suitably qualified candidates available.
The Northern Powerhouse plans to address the current skills gap and improve transport links to enable employees to travel more easily. This will expand your organisation’s recruitment pool but will also mean you’ll be competing to recruit against organisations further afield.
A marketing strategy will help you stand out in this new employment market. Any developments in the company’s brand identity should be shared with HR to strengthen your employer branding and position your organisation as an employer of choice.
Stand Out as an International Brand Ready to do Business
Improved connectivity isn’t just a local aim. £22 million has been made available to bring local authorities and northern businesses together, to present a single internationally competitive offer to the world.
If your marketing goals are at the national level, but your business wants to expand into international markets, you’ll need a brand that will work internationally and a future-proofed marketing plan with the ability to scale up as required. Your website will be at the heart of your global platform so your digital presence should form the core of your strategy.
Market your Business as a Research Partner of Choice
Another Northern Powerhouse goal is to improve innovation and enterprise. Northern research bodies, like the Sir Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials research, have been awarded significant funds. Research institutes often want to partner with manufacturers to understand practical issues with their work and test their findings.
A well thought out marketing strategy could position your organisation as the forward-thinking business researchers want to collaborate with. This would allow you to work with cutting edge technology before your competitors and position you to implement first. Securing this kind of opportunity would also help you attract graduates from leading northern Universities who would be excited to work with emerging tech.
Plan to Influence
The government’s emerging Industrial Strategy requires northern manufacturers, like you, to step up and have your say. Clearly worded arguments about what your customers want, what your company needs and where it’s headed will come, in part, from your marketing strategy. Support your Managing Director to influence the direction that the Northern Powerhouse takes and reap the rewards.
The North’s future looks positive. As Mike Perls, chair of the Institute of Directors North West, said:
"The North is brimming with globally significant, high-growth business who, with the right support, can help the North transform from an industrial to knowledge-based economy that resonates on the world stage."
With your competitors making the most of the opportunities available, seize the moment to review your marketing strategy and ensure your company is ready to capitalise on its best chance at substantial long-term growth.