“Supply chain crisis,” “supply chain disruption,” “massive shortages due to the supply chain…” and so on, ad infinitum. At least, this is how it’s felt since mid-2020, when the pandemic threw a wrench into the “ordinary operations” of every facet of life.
While something closer to “normal life” has slowly returned in most countries in terms of employment, open businesses, and consumer behaviors, the all-important supply chain has yet to stabilize.
The domino effect of supply chain disruption obviously poses a danger to every industry, but electronics engineers are in a particularly precarious position, as manufacturing has seen the hardest hits. For example, in early June of 2021, over 60% of manufacturing businesses reported supplier delays in the previous week – more than any other industry represented.
With a multitude of causes from panic-hoarding to workplace outbreaks and workers taking time off to isolate, and economists predicting supply chain issues to continue for the foreseeable future, what can electronics businesses do to protect their operation?
All Demand, No Supply
Currently, the electronics industry faces a unique situation in which supply chain issues have actually led to a boon in leads.
Before the pandemic and the supply challenges that came with it, marketing was typically all about searching for leads. Now, components manufacturers are finding that customers are coming to them.
Aside from the obvious disruptions caused by shutdowns and staff shortages, our industry has added pressure on the supply chain. The massive shift to Work-From-Home, for example, has created an equally massive demand in electronics, both for office and personal use.
In addition, shortages mean current suppliers can’t always provide what distributors need, and they will shop around for someone who can.
Component manufacturers across the board are seeing huge surges in orders as a result. As an example, clients here at Lectrix reported increases of 27% and 72% in 2021 over 2020.
So, manufacturers suddenly have a full sales pipeline; leads are plentiful, and sales are skyrocketing. They may not even have time to work on lead generation or get through the leads they have, which begs the question: why worry about marketing?
Brand Awareness and Marketing Infrastructure
While marketing is most often about lead generation and increasing sales, it can also be an effective tool for brand awareness and audience development. These areas help an operation run smoothly in times of instability, and it’s the perfect time to give them more attention.
We can’t be certain about much when it comes to the supply chain and future disruptions, but we can be fairly sure about one fact: once a bottleneck ends and the deluge of backed-up orders are shipped, another shortage is likely to follow quickly after.
That’s why the “all-demand-no-supply” period is an extremely important time to focus on brand awareness and audience development. We see this borne out by a number of Lectrix clients, who are focusing their efforts on “marketing infrastructure” over lead generation.
This means, rather than dedicating time and resources to NPIs or sales emails, they are investing in areas like:
- Website redevelopment
- Marketing automation
- Sales enablement
- Content – in particular, content which will remain evergreen
While all these initiatives can and should eventually lead to additional leads, their central purpose is to strengthen brand reputation and position the distributor or supplier as a reliable resource and industry problem solver.
Because they are time-and-resource-intensive efforts, they are often not given much focus when the sales cycle is chugging along as normal. But with overflowing lead pipelines, there is truly no better time to perfect your website and develop exceptional content.
With this stronger foundation in place, companies will still be top-of-mind and highly regarded when the next “down” period hits.
The best marketing strategy in the world can’t solve the supply chain crisis.
But when there are more leads in the pipeline than are possible to quickly process, it’s time to turn to marketing efforts that build up brand reputation and trust.
Focusing on infrastructure and building up an industry name as a thought leader will grant your organization an added layer of customer loyalty and security should the supply chain monster strike again.