Traditional Marketing is Alive and Well for Industrial Companies

Despite all the buzz about digital marketing and proof of results, manufacturers, engineering and industrial companies continue to use traditional marketing tactics such as trade shows, print ads and telemarketing.

According to the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks–North America: CMI/MarketingProfs report, 67% of the 1,416 B2B Marketers surveyed, continue to rate in-person events as the most effective marketing tactic they use.

It would be easy to dismiss the continued use of traditional marketing by saying decision makers at industrial companies are resistant to change and they just don’t want to hear anything about current best practices in online marketing. While true to some extent, it doesn’t tell the complete story in my experience.

I have found owners and executives at industrial companies to be sharp business people who wouldn’t continue to spend good money on marketing tactics if they weren’t producing the desired results.

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Why Industrial News Releases Make Good Blog Posts

Press or news releases about industrial products have been and still are very popular. They work because the content is mainly about features that help engineers specify these industrial products.

In the past, manufacturers used them primarily in traditional print media like an industry-specific tabloid. People sent back a completed reader service or bingo card and leads were generated that way. Of course, those days are long gone. Today, you are more likely to see a URL like http://ogpe.hotims.com or http://powereng.hotims.com printed at the end of the news release.

Since industrial companies struggle with content, I think one way to overcome the problem is to take a traditional marketing tactic like a news release and turn it into a blog post for use in digital marketing.

What I’m suggesting here is not to copy word-for-word from your old product releases but to expand on them and create new blog posts. Instead of listing product features and specifications, your blog posts can add a lot more information, which will be more educational rather than a blatant sales pitch.

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How Manufacturers can Resurrect Product Content from the Dead Zone

In general B2B and technology (software and IT) marketing, there is usually a well-defined path for lead generation and nurturing with content. These B2B marketers seem to have a bottomless well of content to tap into.

I’m sure that’s not by accident but the result of forward thinking and a lot of hard work on the part of content marketers in those industries.

Manufacturers of industrial products struggle when it comes to generating a steady flow of fresh marketing content. Most manufacturing websites are packed with product data sheets and catalogs, a few case studies, some application notes, may be a technical article or two and not much else. In other words, their content is very product-centric.

There is a good reason for that – see my earlier post, “Details Matter in Creating Content for Engineers.” In my opinion, product-centric content is and will always be very important in manufacturing marketing. However, their biggest impact is in the late stages of the industrial buy cycle and are not very effective in the early phases.

How can manufacturers resurrect their existing product content and join the content marketing revolution? Here are some ways that I can suggest: [Read more...]

If You Want Better Leads, Set Your Content Free

I admit my headline is a variation on Sting’s “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” single from his first solo album The Dream of the Blue Turtles.

What does that have to do with lead generation and content marketing? Trust me, there is a connection. Let me explain.

Traditional lead generation tactics usually involves creating some valuable marketing content such as a white paper to use as a giveaway for the purpose of collecting names and email addresses. In other words, marketing content is locked behind a registration form or as some refer to it as “gated content.”

However, is gated content still an effective lead generation tactic in the current environment of social media, RSS feeds, Slideshare and Docstoc?

Setting your marketing content free may sound like a radical idea for those who continue to believe in the old mantra “hand over your contact information if you want my white paper (or other content).” There are some high-profile B2B marketers who are openly challenging the old ways of generating leads. [Read more...]

Can Industrial and B2B Marketers Learn Creative Problem Solving from Fifth Graders?

To be successful in industrial and B2B marketing, one has to engage with prospects and customers in a meaningful manner. Consultative selling is one of the recommended ways and that requires us to sharpen our listening and creative problem solving skills.

That’s great, if you are a natural born consultant but for the rest of us, we have to learn and master these skills. That is why the headline “The Creativity Crisis” in a recent article from Newsweek caught my attention.

According to the article, the Creativity Quotient (CQ) among American children has been in a steady decline since the early nineties. Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990.

Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.”

Many other media outlets have reported the same creativity crisis in America. What are consequences of this creativity decline to the business world? [Read more...]

Is Content Curation an Easy Way for Content Marketers to Do More With Less?

Even though “content curation” is not a common phrase, there’s plenty of discussion to be found on the Internet. Heck, even MS Word kept flagging curation as a misspelled word.

Google News, aggregating content via RSS feeds and social bookmarking sites have been around for a while. Bloggers of all stripes have counted on the popularity of “list” posts whenever they’ve run out of fresh ideas for content. So curated content is not something new.

What is content curation?

I searched Wikipedia for information but couldn’t find an exact definition. Instead, I found something on Media Curation, which I thought was close enough:

Media Curation is the emerging trend toward creating media content using a mix of machine and human resources. The practice includes aggregation (gathering) and curation (sorting, categorizing, art directing, and presenting) such that material from multiple sources creates a unique editorial experience for readers/visitors.

Hmmm…not very satisfying. So I Googled “content curation” and lo and behold, it returned 77,600 results. I hit the mother lode!

Curation: Doing more with less is the topic of a video I found in a post by Steve Rosenbaum who is the CEO of Magnify.net, a video curation and publishing platform. [Read more...]

Creating Relevant B2B Marketing Content: Walk the Talk

There is plenty of advice out there about engaging B2B and industrial buyers with relevant marketing content at every stage of the buying cycle. That is pretty much the mantra of B2B content marketing.

Transforming that concept into an actionable reality is a very different story. Nothing happens until your site visitors and blog readers take some kind of an action after reading your content. In other words, it is time to walk the talk!

Personas do matter in B2B content marketing

You would be wasting your scarce resources if you pumped out marketing content without first having a clear and complete understanding of the personas of your B2B buyers. Even if you have carefully segmented your target audience by demographics, different people within the same company can and do react differently to your content. And they use different sources to get their information. The chart below from a research study done by Forrester illustrates this point very clearly. [Read more...]

Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle

B2B marketers agree that lead generation and nurturing campaigns must deliver relevant content to their target audience to be successful. Typically, that means understanding the prospect’s pain and then offering a solution for relief.

Sounds simple, right? But not easy to execute because there usually is a disconnect between what your prospect wants to hear and what you want to say about your company and its products and services.

The problem becomes more acute for the industrial sector because the industrial buy cycle can be a long and complex process that often involves multiple decision makers. Without a clear understanding of the stages, it is difficult to align your marketing content with your customer’s decision-making process.

Industrial Buy Cycle White PaperI downloaded a white paper called “Understanding the Industrial Buy Cycle: How to Align Your Marketing with Your Customers’ Buying Process” from GlobalSpec that has done a very good job of explaining the four stages of the industrial buy cycle and how to match your marketing content to each stage.

The white paper has deconstructed the complex industrial buy cycle into four distinct stages that the buyer systematically goes through. The stages are: [Read more...]