Content Can Differentiate Industrial Companies When There’s Parity in Value Propositions

A Value Proposition plays an important role in differentiation, which in turn affects lead generation. Yet, if you read the content on most industrial websites, they tend to sound similar within each industry. Most manufacturers and industrial companies make generic claims that are often copied by their competition and lack validation.

How do you rise above the noise when there is so much parity in Value Propositions?

There are experts who are more qualified than I am in crafting a Value Proposition that is so unique to a company that it cannot be easily duplicated by others. However, my clients look to me for answers for overcoming their lead generation challenges using my knowledge and experience in industrial marketing.

One strategy that has consistently produced good results for my industrial clients is using the power of industrial content marketing. You’ve probably heard that before so what’s different about what I’ve just said?

Let me answer that by giving you some specifics:

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What Does a Content Marketing Strategy Mean for Industrial Companies?

I’m sure every time you’ve talked with an industrial marketing consultant about content marketing, you’ve been told that you need to start with a “content marketing strategy.” That’s very good advice but what does it really mean if you are on the other side of the table and are responsible for marketing your industrial company?

I don’t want to overgeneralize the process of developing a good content marketing strategy because it varies from company to company. There are some guidelines and best practices that most professional marketing consultants follow but that doesn’t mean the strategies are cookie cutter plans.

What I’ve outlined here is my process for developing a sound content marketing strategy for industrial clients who are new to using inbound content marketing for generating more high quality leads at a lower cost per lead.

You are probably very familiar with the phrase “To succeed with content marketing, you have to think like a publisher.” Building on that foundation, my process is based on the time-tested principle of “the Five Ws (and one H)” of good journalism. In case you are not familiar with that term, the five Ws are – Who, What, When, Where and Why. The H stands for How.

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Can Digital Marketing Make the Phone Ring for Industrial Companies?

Generating leads is always the central theme in my daily conversations with manufacturing, engineering and industrial companies. However, a qualified lead means different things to different people and it is rare for me to find too many of these companies to have a clear definition of what a lead means to them.

Truth be told, lead generation is a catchall for “We want our phones to ring.”

I wish it were that easy. Then again, I had better be careful about what I wish for because if it were that easy, my clients wouldn’t need my help solving their industrial lead generation problems.

Let me make it clear from the outset, this post is not about sales vs. marketing. I firmly believe that complex industrial sales require both sales and marketing to work together. I advise my clients to embrace that philosophy and not to think of industrial marketing as mere sales support.

How can digital marketing help create more qualified opportunities for industrial sales?

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Do You Know the Cost of Maintaining Your Industrial Digital Marketing Status Quo?

For the past six years, more than two thirds of manufacturers and industrial companies have said that lead generation or customer acquisition is their top marketing priority according to the latest industrial marketing survey released by GlobalSpec.

The same survey also found that 42 percent of these companies have increased their budgets for digital marketing in 2012 and 47 percent of the respondents spend more than a third of their overall marketing budgets online.

Despite all the encouraging findings about the use of digital marketing within the industrial sector, it is common to find websites that are several years old. I have talked to owners and marketers from manufacturing and industrial companies of various sizes that sounded enthusiastic about launching an industrial blog and moving forward with inbound marketing with content but it seems easier for them to do nothing and maintain their digital marketing status quo. They are hoping that their lead generation problem will somehow solve itself if they continue to do business as usual.

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Why a Content BOM is Crucial to a Successful Industrial Web Design

Content BOM is not a typo in my headline. Read on…

I am amazed how often I find that creating content is an afterthought for people who are considering an industrial web design (more commonly a site redesign). Somehow, they assume the web designer will take care of content creation and the cost is included in their proposal for designing the site.

It is not surprising then that many of these industrial web redesigns are nothing more than a cosmetic facelift with copy-pasted content from their old site and/or outdated marketing collateral. Beyond the initial “looks nice” reaction, the new site doesn’t produce the results that were promised and expected.

What went wrong? The short answer – no content BOM (Bill Of Materials). Let me explain by using my personal experience.

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The More Industrial Marketing Changes, the More it Stays the Same

I’m not trying to be clever or facetious with my headline. 67 percent of manufacturers, industrial and engineering companies stated that customer acquisition or lead generation is their primary industrial marketing goal in 2012, the same top two marketing goals for the past six years.

That’s one of the findings from a survey done by GlobalSpec during the first quarter of 2012. The online survey addressed the marketing trends, challenges, and expenditures within the engineering, technical, manufacturing, and industrial communities.

The primary goal of industrial marketing has not changed even though marketing strategies and tactics have changed significantly in the past 5 years. Either that or we industrial marketers haven’t quite figured out the lead generation puzzle yet.

Here are some other key findings from their report:

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Industrial Marketing is not Disconnected Tactics

Many manufacturers and industrial companies are learning some hard lessons these days. Business as usual is not working – referrals are trickling in, if at all and the pipeline of leads is running dry. The old way of hiring away salespeople from the competition with their “ready book of business” is not producing the quick sales they had expected.

Next, they try a series of marketing tactics without a strategy or a plan, hoping something will produce results. When that doesn’t work, they turn to the Internet in search of information on how to do industrial marketing on a shoestring budget.

After being burned a few times by free tips from self-proclaimed experts online, they become frustrated and are suspicious of any more advice even if it is from a legitimate and proven industrial marketing consultant. In desperation, they start looking for a quick “Band-Aid” fix for their lead generation problems while spending as little as possible since budgets are tight or non-existent.

In short, they are now looking for Cheap Miracles or may be, Industrial Marketing Made in China.

Marketing for these industrial companies has always been a sales support function — put together a PowerPoint presentation for the next sales meeting, create a few posters for an upcoming tradeshow or make the product catalog look “pretty.” It is very difficult for them to change this mindset and think of an industrial marketing strategy before implementing tactics. Yes, there is a big difference between strategy and tactics. Google strategy vs. tactics and you’ll get 4,030,000 hits so there is no sense in me repeating all that here.

How can industrial marketing remove this disconnect?

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Lead Generation: What’s Working – Tactics, Budgets and Preferences

Summer is a good time to look back at what has worked for lead generation and compare yourself with your peers as you plan for the second half of the year. You could use some of these findings to validate your own industrial marketing strategy and/or find some new ideas to fine-tune it for the remainder of 2012. With that in mind, here are some useful data and charts from various sources. Click on each chart to see a larger image.

MarketingSherpa: (www.marketingsherpa.com)

What were the most effective SEO tactics used for lead generation in 2012? Here are the results from a survey of 1,530 B2B marketers during this year’s B2B Benchmark Study to find what works in online and offline marketing.

MarketingSherpa

In another survey of nearly 2,000 B2B marketers, participants were asked, “Please indicate the expected changes to your lead generation budget for the following channels for 2012.”

And the survey says…

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Is Your Industrial Website Leaking Leads?

One persistent problem for many manufacturers and industrial companies is the small number of leads generated from their Websites. By default, they assume that the issue is the lack of traffic because of poor SEO. It is quite likely, that your industrial Website is attracting enough traffic but suffers from poor conversion. In short, you may have a leaky industrial Website. (See my earlier post, You’ve Got Traffic. Now What?)

Look at your Google Analytics, one quick indicator of a leaky Website is your bounce rate. Google defines bounce rate as “The percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.” Anything over 60% is worrisome and you may have a leaky Website.

One caveat to the above rule of thumb – a page for downloading case studies probably will have a very high bounce rate but that doesn’t mean it is bad. If you are sophisticated enough with analytics, you can set up conversion tracking within Google Analytics to get a better handle on where the leads are leaking from your Website.

Often, I find industrial websites designed with no thought given to traffic conversion. The most common conversion mechanisms I see are a toll free number in a big bold font and a Contact Us or a lengthy RFQ form. While making your contact information very visible on your site is a good idea, it is not very effective in converting site traffic into named contacts or leads.

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How Manufacturers Use 3D CAD Models and 2D CAD Drawings as Sales Enablers

Manufacturers usually want their industrial marketing to generate leads that result in RFQs as quickly as possible. Inbound marketing tactics such as SEO and other content marketing strategies do fill the top of their sales funnel but converting leads to sales opportunities takes too long for their liking. Think of 3D CAD models and 2D CAD drawings then as supercharged content assets for moving leads closer to the RFQ stage much quicker than any other type of content resource.

There are several benefits to offering 3D CAD models and 2D CAD drawings on an industrial website. By far the strongest reason, at least in my opinion is that they help get manufacturers’ or distributors’ parts “designed in.” Design wins lead to prototype and production orders. That’s why I like to call them “sales enablers.”

ThomasNet research indicates that up to 80 percent of the time a buyer or engineer downloads and specs a CAD drawing into a design, that part is purchased. That is not an isolated case; I have read many comments that are variations of a common theme – design engineers will look for alternate suppliers if they cannot find 3D models on a vendor’s site.

Some of the other benefits include:

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