To Blog, or Not to Blog…That’s the Question Many Industrial Companies are Asking

Industrial blogging questionsManufacturers, distributors and engineering companies have read or heard about all the benefits of content marketing in general and blogging in particular but many are still sitting on the fence. I’m often asked the question, “Should we start a blog?” It is a simple question but the answer is not a simple yes or a no.

Yes, you should start an industrial blog if you haven’t already done so. No, you shouldn’t blog if you don’t have a well-thought-out blogging strategy in place already.

Even though blog strategy comes before content creation, only 19% of manufacturing marketers outsource this function. That was one of the findings from the 2014 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs.

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Winning the Engineer’s Mindshare with Industrial Blogging

Winning engineer's mindshare with industrial bloggingEngineers love a challenge and solving problems. They are always on the lookout for gaining knowledge from their peers. They trust and have more confidence in reading or hearing something from other engineers. One engineer to another is a far more powerful tool than sales messaging when it comes to building trust and establishing thought leadership.

However, engineers and technical buyers don’t easily change processes that are working well unless you can convince them they may have a problem that they are not aware of and/or you have a better, more efficient way of doing something that they have been doing for many years.

There is a two-fold challenge here. First, you have to bring attention to real-world technical problems and not something that you’ve cooked up to sell your solution. Second, engineers are trained to be skeptical and demand proof of concept before they’ll buy your solution.

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Blogging Still Lagging in Industrial Marketing

Compared to most B2B marketers, blogging still plays a minor role for most manufacturing and industrial companies. Look at these charts from two different surveys to illustrate my point.

The first chart is from the survey – Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs’ fourth annual B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.

B2B Content Marketing Tactics Usage

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Use Content to Uncover Tacit Know-how Inside the Minds of Engineers

I recently read the survey, 2012 Mind of the Engineer that was released by UBM Electronics, the global leader in media and marketing solutions for design engineering and the electronics industry. The findings are very interesting and blew away some of the myths about how engineers think.

The key takeaway for me was the concept of “tactic know-how” and its implications for engaging with engineers when it comes to industrial marketing with content.

To get a quick overview of the survey, watch this short video (2:15) from UBM Tech’s CEO of Electronics, Kathy Astromoff where she talks about tacit know-how, engineers’ challenges, perceptions, and information-gathering habits.

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Creating Thought Leadership for Manufacturing and Industrial Companies

Thought LeadershipThought leader is a term first coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the Booz Allen Hamilton magazine, Strategy & Business and used to designate interview subjects for that magazine who had business ideas, which merited attention. It has since evolved into describing someone who is supposed to have progressive and innovative ideas. (Source: WikiPedia).

If you are doing any form of industrial content marketing, you know that thought leadership is now a catchphrase. Everyone wants it but how do you create it? Just pumping out content that is nothing more than thinly disguised product promotions won’t cut it.

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Guest Blogging: An Important Strategy of Industrial Marketing

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about all the great benefits of blogging as a cornerstone of your content marketing. However, one aspect of this industrial marketing strategy that doesn’t get much attention is guest blogging. There are unique benefits of guest blog posts that deliver powerful marketing ROI.

In the past, many SEO experts pushed publishing guest articles and blog posts for the sole purpose of generating inbound links with keyword-rich anchor texts. This SEO or content marketing strategy relied heavily on quantity over quality of links. Google’s war on content farms has pretty much rendered this tactic useless. Don’t get me wrong, quality inbound links still matter in SEO.

IMO, there are three bigger benefits of guest blogging. They are:

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Add a Blog to Jump Start Industrial Websites

It is not uncommon to find industrial websites that have not been updated for a long time or with outdated content. Providing a cosmetic facelift is not going to improve the site’s performance either. What can you do if a complete website redesign is not feasible?

Adding a blog to your current site is a quick and easy way to breathe new life into an old or underperforming industrial website. Now, every time I mention the word blog to manufacturers and industrial companies, they put on their mental brakes. This is because they think they won’t have anything to write about, at least not as far as publishing new blog posts on a weekly or even a monthly basis.

Here are two practical tips to help you overcome this hurdle of content creation for industrial marketing:

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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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Retrofitting Blogs and Converting Industrial Websites into Blog Sites

I am seeing more manufacturers and industrial companies willing to try inbound marketing with content. A sure sign of that is the number of conversations that I have had recently with my current clients and new leads. They all want to either add a blog to their static industrial websites or convert them into dynamic blog sites.

Retrofitting a blog into an existing site is quicker and less expensive than recreating the site on a blogging platform. However, a blog site with a fully integrated blog has many advantages over the retrofit option. For a full list of benefits, refer to my earlier post, “Build Industrial Websites as Dynamic Blog Sites.”

Some companies need help setting up their business blogs but for most, the biggest obstacle is creating content. One way to get over this hurdle is to repurpose some of your existing content into blog posts.

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Industrial Blog Sites Revisited

The idea of combining a website with the benefits of a blog is very appealing to many industrial marketers. In my conversations over the past few months, I have noticed a growing acceptance of blog sites among manufacturers, industrial distributors and engineering services companies.

Blog sites as inbound marketing hubs

Industrial companies have realized the importance of inbound marketing and its impact on lead generation. They are beginning to look beyond a static informational website and are now seriously focusing on developing a more robust online presence for attracting qualified traffic, generating higher quality leads and positioning themselves as thought leaders in their respective niches.

If you are still not convinced about the power of industrial blogs and inbound marketing, let me highlight some of the facts and findings that I have written about in the past.

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