Content Marketing to Engineers is Tough. And Getting Tougher

Every industrial marketer should sit up and take notice of some of the preliminary findings from a recent survey called the Engineering Marketers 2017 Survey conducted by ENGINEERING.COM. As you read through this article, pay close attention to the prediction and the recommendations for achieving success with industrial content marketing to engineers.

This post is a departure from my usual ones. It is a guest post written by John Hayes exclusively for my blog. In case you are not familiar with him (check him out on LinkedIn), he is the CEO of ENGINEERING.COM.

Take it away John!

Welcome to 2017. Engineering marketers are now well versed in content marketing. In a recent survey, 89% of engineering marketers said that they were using content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy.

Engineering marketers using content marketing

And most of them are having success. In fact, 75% of the marketers who use content marketing say that it is working.

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Top 10 Industrial Marketing Posts of 2016

Top 10 Industrial Marketing Posts of 2016Happy New Year!

I thought I’ll start off 2017 with a quick look back at 2016. I’ve compiled the top 10 posts on industrial marketing. The ranking is based on various parameters from Google Analytics. I left out the home page even though it is the most visited page as expected.

The interesting thing to note is that the top 3 posts were published in 2010. That’s 7 years ago, and still going strong! This is proof of the longevity of blog posts.

  1. SAL is the Glue that Binds Sales and Marketing in Lead Generation
  2. 7 Strategies for Using Content to Market Industrial Products
  3. Why More Engineers Ought to be in Sales and Marketing
  4. Marketing Engineering Services with Content
  5. How Manufacturers Use 3D CAD Models and 2D CAD Drawings as Sales Enablers
  6. Industrial Email Marketing for Targeting Engineers in Long and Complex Sales Cycles
  7. How Industrial Marketing Influences Buyers
  8. Content Marketing for Manufacturers: What’s real and what’s hype?
  9. Why Manufacturers Need a Multichannel Industrial Marketing Strategy
  10. Lead Generation for Industrial Companies is a Process not a Campaign

Thanks for being a regular reader of Industrial Marketing Today blog.

How Industrial Marketing Influences Buyers

Industrial marketing precedes industrial sales. That is the reality today.

I understand manufacturers, distributors and engineering service providers may find it hard to accept that fact. That’s because these industrial companies have traditionally depended on sales teams to drive their lead generation efforts from start to finish. Marketing has always provided sales support and not expected to play an active role.

Today’s industrial buyers have flipped that sales and marketing paradigm upside down. Even though the industrial buy cycle has not changed, buyers go through their buying journey very differently now. They prefer to operate in a self-serve and self-select mode by using a variety of digital sources of information.

If you are in industrial sales, hold off on your “salespeople are not dead” comments until you’ve read through to the end of my post.

I’m sure you’ve heard this digital marketing mantra ad nauseam. As an owner or a business development professional at one of these industrial companies, you are probably skeptical about that message, especially when it comes from industrial marketing consultants with vested interests.

Let me reassure you with some key research findings from unbiased, independent third parties.

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Marketing to Engineers Requires Accurate and Truthful Content Presented Logically

Marketing to engineers is challenging, but manufacturers, distributors and engineering services companies cannot shy away from it because engineers make up the bulk of their target audience.

Engineers regardless of their experience are concerned with keeping their skills current and their technology knowledge up to date. They are actively looking for reliable information about advancements and innovations. This extends beyond content marketing for engineers; many of these industrial professionals are motivated to attend trade shows and conferences to learn about something they don’t know. (See Why Manufacturers Need a Multichannel Industrial Marketing Strategy).

The irony is that engineers are hungry for information, but industrial marketers are struggling to provide them the right content and engage with them in a meaningful way. Marketing people at these companies need to work with in-house Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for creating content that their target audience will find helpful and is technically accurate.

There are two key challenges when it comes to marketing to engineers with content – time and trust.

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Industrial Marketing Plan: A 3-Phase Approach

Industrial marketing plan

As we go deeper into Q4 with the holidays right around the corner, most industrial companies start to think about their industrial marketing plan for the next year. As an industrial marketing consultant, I’m often asked by clients the best way to approach this important planning task.

My preferred way is what I call the 3-phase industrial marketing plan approach. I refer to them as phases instead of steps because each phase consists of several smaller steps.

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Digital Marketing for Manufacturers: Making a Business Case

Imagine this all too common scenario if you are a manufacturer, distributor or an engineering company. Sales are slow; you need to do something right now to make the phones ring. The directive comes from the top – add more sales people, start working the phones and drop those prices just to book orders.

Uh oh, that isn’t working, something ain’t right! It has always worked in the past but not anymore. Why is that?

Digital marketing for manufacturers identifies invisible buyers

Invisibe industrial buyersToday’s industrial buyers are in self-serve and self-select mode, making them virtually invisible and hard to reach. They don’t need or want to talk to your sales people to get product information. Your buyers will engage with your sale team only when they are ready.

Hounding them with cold calls or unwanted spammy emails is not going to help them make a more informed decision of selecting your industrial product and/or solution.

Some of the key findings from a research study done by IHS GlobaSpec were:

  • 48% of industrial professionals spend at least six hours per week online for work-related purposes.
  • 42% percent visit more than ten work-related websites each week.
  • The primary uses of the Internet for technical professionals are to find components, equipment, services and suppliers (74 percent); obtain product specifications (73 percent); compare products across suppliers (69 percent); find pricing information (68 percent); and perform research (66 percent).

You need to be where engineers and industrial buyers are actively searching for answers to their problems. You need to be online with digital marketing.

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Webinar: Digital Marketing Road Map for Manufacturers and Industrial Companies

Success with Digital Marketing - a Road Map for Manufacturers

I will be co-hosting a webinar with John Hayes of ENGINEERING.com on August 5 at 10am PST / 1pm EST. The webinar is called Success with Digital Marketing – a Road Map for Manufacturers.

We plan on covering a lot of ground on digital marketing as it relates to manufacturers and other industrial companies. You’ll walk away with key takeaways for creating your own digital marketing road map.

In case you are not familiar with John (@JackHayes), he is the CEO of ENGINEERING.com and the author of Digital Marketing for Engineers. He and his team publish a lot of helpful content on their Digital Marketing for Engineers blog.

Our presentation will include:

  • What is digital marketing and why is it right for an engineering and industrial audience
  • Defining the road map to digital marketing
  • Steps to create a road map and measuring ROI
  • Why marketing to engineers is a big challenge
  • How to make a business case for digital marketing with content
  • How to win the engineer’s mindshare and working with SMEs

This webinar will be held on August 5, 2015 at 10am PST/1pm EST. Of course it is free to attend.

I hope to see you there.

Register Now

 

SEO Must Complement Conversion Optimization for an Effective Industrial Marketing Strategy

I find too many manufacturers and industrial companies still hung up on individual keyword rankings and getting to the top in Google and other major search engines. I’m not trying to minimize the time, effort and the expertise needed for search engine optimization (SEO) of industrial websites. After all, traffic is the lifeblood of online marketing and you can’t get traffic if your site is invisible in search engines.

The problem is that traffic by itself means nothing if you fail to convert it into qualified leads and sales opportunities. The old assumption that visitors will call after finding you in Google and visiting your site is not working anymore. Industrial buyers do their own research and usually complete 60-70% of their buying journey before contacting your sales team.

I understand most industrial companies tend to define a qualified lead as an RFQ or RFP but it is too late if that is the first contact you have with the buyer. You are either one of three competitive bids or competing on price alone. Your potential customers will turn a deaf ear to your spiel about differentiation and expertise at this stage of their buying decision. All they care about is your price and lead time.

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Why are Manufacturers Still Struggling with Content Marketing?

Last week, I received an advance copy of the research study, 2015 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America thanks to Amanda Subler of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). There may be slight differences between my draft copy and the final version that was published by CMI recently.

Even though there has been a slight decline this year in the number of manufacturers who said they use content marketing (82% vs. 86% last year), far more manufacturing marketers cited sales as a goal this year than they did last year (85% vs. 56%). Content marketing for driving sales has now become an accepted industrial marketing strategy.

Content marketing for manufacturers

That’s the good news.

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Top 12 Industrial Marketing Posts of 2014

top 12 industrial marketing posts of 2014It’s time to look back at the most read industrial marketing posts that I published in 2014. I’ve culled the list down to 12 based on the data from my Google Analytics. These industrial marketing posts are listed in the order of published dates –oldest to the newest.

#1: What’s Hot and What’s Not in Digital Marketing for Engineers in 2014: I just downloaded my copy of the 2014 Digital Marketing for Engineers survey published by John Hayes and his team at ENGINEERING.com. There are some interesting and encouraging findings. I’ll use a few of the charts from the survey results that show what they found and then add what I am seeing firsthand with my industrial clients. Read more…

#2: Industrial Website Redesign Should Fit Your Sales Process: If you want your industrial website to generate qualified leads and drive sales (Of course you do), make sure you and your web developer takes the time to ask and answer the key question, “How will the redesigned website align with our sales process?” Many other related questions begin to surface whenever I ask that question. Read more…

#3. How to Create Successful Industrial Marketing Content for TOFU: Creating effective marketing content for TOFU is proving to be a challenge for many manufacturers. That’s because these industrial companies have plenty of product datasheets, user guides and other product-centric marketing collateral but very little content that is customer-centric. Why is this important? Read more…

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