You want to do business with Boeing or Lockheed, but aren’t seeing success. What should you do?
Small- and mid-size aerospace businesses often ask us about how to market to OEMs.
It's important to treat your OEM pursuit as a dedicated marketing campaign. It’s a big job and it’s not something you can do halfway—like any campaign it will take time and resources. If you are to be successful, your campaign should accomplish these three objectives:
1. Check the Boxes
Follow the established process. Every procurement professional we interviewed gave us the same advice — and they could not have been more clear. Before you do anything else, get in your target customer’s supplier system.
- Register with Exostar. It’s an online aerospace and defense trading exchange used by Boeing, Raytheon and Honeywell, to name a few. After you register, dive into the website for free resources. Supplier Connection is another resource to explore.
- Determine if your business is qualified to be part of a special category, such as a small or woman-owned business, and register with the U.S. government’s System for Award Management. This can give you a competitive advantage.
- Research supplier guidelines and register online with your specific targets. OEMs devote significant space on their websites to helping potential vendors navigate the process, so do your homework. Here are a few examples for Boeing, Airbus and Lockheed.
2. Be Visible. Be Relevant
- Procurement people tell us they use Google. A lot. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a must so customers can find you quickly and easily. Here are practical tips for improving your SEO.
- Once they find you, what do they see? Is your website out of date? Does it load quickly? Does it inspire confidence and trust? This resource can help you assess your current site and identify opportunities for improvement.
- Ensure that your messaging is clear and customer-centric. Get to the point quickly. Convince OEMs that you have the solution to their problem.
- Sponsorships and partnerships can be valuable, but they must be carefully selected.
3. Get Out and Connect
- Connect with individual targets on LinkedIn and social media, but don’t stop there. Aerospace is all about relationships, and face-to-face connections still matter.
- Attend OEM presentations and events. Many offer webinars and information sessions for suppliers and there are a lot to choose from. This is just one example to consider for 2018.
- Join and participate in organizations where OEMs have a presence. Take a look at AIA, but don’t stop there.
- Attend aerospace industry trade shows. OEMs are there, so you should be, too. But choose wisely, and remember, it may be OK to attend without exhibiting.
Plan the Plan
Finally, it’s important to have a plan. Following our three guidelines, document your goals, messages, tactics, timing, and everything else related to your OEM campaigns — and then make it happen.