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Two local manufacturers talk marketing tactics

What better way to know what marketing tactics B2B manufacturers are using than to ask two of them what works for them? 

Meet Carla Ott, President-Owner of Otterbine-Barebo, Inc. located in Emmaus, her company is a leader in pond and lake management for over 60 years and produces water aerating fountains. And meet Ken Horton, CEO of Vizinex RFID in Bethlehem, maker of radio-frequency identification tags for medical devices, weapons, data centers, and other asset tracking purposes. 

We asked them about the tactics they are currently using to promote their products, what tactics they’ve experimented with in recent years that didn’t work out as they wanted, and what some of their biggest marketing challenges are.

Current marketing tactics

For Vizinex, an integrated marketing approach is the way to go. They diversify their marketing by engaging multiple tactics including paid digital advertising with Google Ads, LinkedIn and in industry publications. There is also email marketing, web site optimization, and social media, as well as more traditional marketing tactics like public relations and networking. 

Otterbine also takes a comprehensive approach that ranges from a quarterly newsletter and monthly eblasts to distributors, to presentations and training sessions by an external sales force and generating sales leads for distributors by connecting them with potential customers. An advertising co-op program also allows marketing funds to be used for a variety of promotions such as mailers, car wraps, and digital marketing.

The company has seen a high rate of success with targeted display ads that lead customers into an email drip campaign. “We start by educating potential new customers on our products, giving them enough information to select the best one for their specific needs, and then by the final email we ask them if they’d like a quote,” explains Ott. “We have a 70 percent close rate on quotes generated from this campaign.” Drip campaigns targeted to specific user groups such as landscape architects and golf course superintendents are also utilized.

What did you try that didn’t work?

“LinkedIn ad campaigns for B2B businesses that specifically targeted mid-to-bottom of the funnel conversions – like requesting a demo – haven’t worked for us,” explained Horton. “What does work are LinkedIn campaigns that target top of the funnel conversions – like a guide download – which get much better results.” 

Because getting end-user leads without a software or integration partner has not yielded sales for the company, this year Horton and his team are focusing on developing systems integrator relationships who will build an entire system that includes Vizinex products.

For Otterbine it was Google display ads that didn’t work, which the company started on their own and admits they didn’t know how to configure properly for maximum effectiveness. “We didn’t know how to read the analytics and couldn’t figure out how to improve our rankings on search engines,” said Ott.

So, they hired Altitude Marketing, a digital marketing agency also located in Emmaus, which specializes in B2B clients. The agency started with a review of the company’s web site, followed by search engine optimization. It then researched keywords for Otterbine’s market and are now testing them with Google keyword search ads to see which words get more engagement. 

How are you using social media?

Both companies use several social media channels to promote their brand and product messaging, as well as to stay in front of customers and to share industry news. 

“Vizinex combines Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to follow and engage with new and existing target companies and industry publications we want to stay top of mind with, and also to drive traffic to our web site,” said Horton. 

Despite having a presence on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (they’ll be adding LinkedIn to the mix soon), Ott said that her company’s social media engagement has been somewhat limited lately. “We are focused on creating more marketing opportunities via social media in 2019,” she explained. “At this point the primary benefit we receive from it is brand awareness.”

What has been your biggest marketing challenge lately?

While attracting quality leads and targeting end users has been the biggest marketing challenges for Vizinex of late, for Otterbine, it has been not having an ecommerce web site to sell its products when many of its competitors do, since it helps their SEO rankings on key search engines. Ott says her company also faces challenging working with their distributors to create webpages with the Otterbine brand and message to help sell their products to end users, as well as assisting them with the local marketing efforts. 

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