82% of manufacturers said they are using content marketing according to findings from the 2015 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America published by CMI. More than half (59%) also said one of their top challenges is “Producing Content Consistently.” This is not an isolated finding; I’ve read other research studies that have reported similar results.
Writer’s block – the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing. (Wikipedia). That is exactly what I hear most often from my industrial clients who are struggling with content marketing.
Part of the problem is that in-house subject matter experts (SMEs) are too busy with their regular jobs to create content and the other part is the notion that they have nothing more or new to say because their audience who are primarily engineers already knows everything there is to know about the subject matter.
If you are facing the same challenges, I have two suggestions:
- For the first challenge, read – Industrial Blogging Lessons Learned from Working with Technical SMEs
- For the second part of the problem, read on…
As an industrial content marketing consultant, I’m on the outside while working with engineers and industrial companies on a daily basis. This has given me a different perspective about writing for an engineering audience.
I’ve found that most online research is done by staff engineers who are relatively inexperienced. They are often tasked with gathering information in the early stages of the industrial buy cycle. These younger engineers look to industry experts for educational content that will make their jobs easier.
Most anything you have to say about your domain may be new to them because they have not yet gained the in-depth knowledge of more experienced engineers nor do they have first-hand experience of the kinds of technical problems you have solved for their company and others within their industry.
What you want to create is usually referred to as “Champion content,” something that these researching engineers can download and take to the decision making committee. This kind of content has many benefits:
- Puts you (your company) in front of stakeholders who may never visit your site
- Overcomes the problem of your sales team never meeting some of these people or hearing about their objections until the final RFQ or procurement stage
- Positions you ahead of your competition because your content helped to frame the buying decision
- Provides a recommendation from a key decision maker on the committee because s/he remembers working with you in another company or role
- Creates trust among senior engineers who can rely on you as a dependable resource for referring their staff engineers to your site
You may be thinking well I can just rehash and regurgitate old stuff. Hold on, not so fast. Creating more content for the sake of content marketing is not going to help you.
Important content qualities for engineers
The top three important aspects of content that engineers look for are technical accuracy (98%), detailed diagrams and images (94%), and current information (94%). (Source: Marketing to Engineers by CFE Media and TREW Marketing).
The same study also found that engineers are very comfortable with downloading and viewing PDF files (preferred over other delivery methods) and that 74% of the respondents are more likely to do business with a company that regularly produces new or updated content.
I’ve found Application Notes very effective in content marketing for manufacturers. These are different from case studies and are usually 2-5 pages long with schematics, photos, mathematical equations/formulas and sometimes results. Application Notes can be easily repurposed into additional content pieces for targeting different stages of your sales funnel and buyer personas.
Before you dive into content creation, spend some time on answering the “Why,” the “Who” and the “What.” Generic answers to these questions will lead to mediocre, one size fits all content. That will not produce the results you want out of content marketing for manufacturers.