Industrial distributors face a unique set of challenges when it comes to content marketing. These companies have traditionally depended on the depth and breadth of their line cards to highlight their strengths and sell industrial products.
In the past, their marketing content came straight from the manufacturers they represented. You will find the exact same product content on sites of various distributors serving a particular industry. They’ve never had to create and publish their own content before.
The problem is republishing the same manufacturer’s content won’t help your SEO or add any value for your customers and neither will it help to differentiate one industrial distributor from another.
Industrial buyers today don’t respond well to traditional marketing tactics anymore. They want to do a large part of their research by using general search engines like Google or industry verticals like globalsepc.com or visiting the supplier’s website. (See my previous post, “Social Media Usage by Engineers and Industrial Professionals.”)
Many industrial distributors have moved a large part of their business online by using eCommerce. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a big part of their digital marketing initiatives for driving sales. The problem is it is expensive and not sustainable unless supported by other marketing strategies such as inbound marketing with content.
Joe Pulizzi (@juntajoe) in his blog post, “Content Marketing: Why You Should Buy Value Instead of Leasing It” explained the difference very well. He refers to outbound marketing such as PPC as “leasing” whereas creating your own content is like “buying.”
How can industrial distributors use content marketing?
I can write volumes about how industrial distributors can and should use content marketing. Instead of an industrial marketing consultant like me telling you about it; let me give you two real-world examples of how it is done.
- DigiKey is an authorized distributor of electronic components for more than 600 industry-leading suppliers and is one of the fastest growing distributors of electronic components in the world. Visit their Resources, TechZonesm, TechExchangesm Community and Supply Chain HQ.sm These sections of their site are well-stocked (pun intended) with useful content that is much more than product features and specifications.
- Grainger (W.W. Grainger, Inc.) with 2012 sales of $9 billion is North America’s leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products, with expanding global operations. Take a look at their Resources section. They have way too many content categories for me to list here.
What can you do if you are not the 800-pound gorilla of your industry like the above two examples? Inbound or content marketing can actually help you even more by generating high quality leads at a lower cost per lead.
Here are two direct quotes about content marketing and marketing automation. I really like these and believe in them.
- Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki), Former Chief Evangelist, Apple Co-Founder, Alltop.Com — “If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.”
- Jon Miller (@jonmiller), Marketo’s VP of Marketing Content and Strategy – “Dream big, start small, fast wins.”
Adding a WordPress blog to your industrial site doesn’t take too much money and can pay very rich dividends for organic SEO and lead generation. Then use relevant content to nurture leads and turn site traffic into sales opportunities at a lower cost instead of continuing to spend a lot of money on one-off traditional marketing tactics.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that you abandon those marketing tactics. On the contrary, I am suggesting that you use both by reallocating your marketing budget between inbound marketing with content and traditional marketing. (See my post “Traditional Marketing is Alive and Well for Industrial Companies.” )
I would like to hear from industrial distributors. How are you using content marketing?