Content Marketing for Manufacturers: What’s real and what’s hype?

If you are a manufacturing marketer, I’m sure you’ve heard all the buzz and the hype surrounding content marketing for manufacturers. It is a fact that today more manufacturers are using content marketing for increasing awareness (branding), lead generation and sales. That’s not hype, it’s definitely a reality as reported by the 2015 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs.

Goals of content marketing for manufacturers

Is content marketing for manufacturers meeting those goals and expectations?

I’ll answer that question by first citing study findings and then with my own experiences with manufacturing clients.

Hype vs. reality of content marketing for manufacturers

While many manufacturers in the North America (Mainly in the US) are using content marketing as seen by the chart above, only 26% say they are effective at it. That’s the unfortunate reality. Or as they say, “This is where the rubber meets the road.”

Effectiveness of content marketing for manufacturers

My own experiences with manufacturing clients match these findings. Part of the problem is correctly measuring content marketing’s ROI. The CMI study found that only 12% of manufacturing marketers were successful at tracking the ROI of their content marketing programs.

Problems with content marketing for manufacturers

I find that the bigger issue stems from manufacturers not really understanding the true value of content marketing.

Their focus is usually on top of the funnel tactics. In other words, they think of content marketing as the new way for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Their assumption is that their audience will find them in Google’s first page, visit their website and after that call or email their sales people. That is just not happening, at least not often enough to justify spending money on content marketing. (See How Industrial Companies are Stuck on SEO for Content Marketing Strategy).

Very few manufacturers have taken the time to develop a strategy before jumping into creating content. Strategy is not a list of activities or a to-do-list. You’ve got to ask and get answers to the Why, Who and the What before creating content. Just publishing more content is not content marketing and it won’t move the needle for manufacturers.

I see other problems with content marketing for manufacturers. Instead of repeating myself, let me direct you to two webinars that I’ve cohosted in the past few months where I’ve discussed these issues and provided more details.

  1. A Business Case for Content Marketing in Manufacturing (with Bruce McDuffee, Director of Manufacturing Marketing Institute (MMI))
  2. Digital Marketing Road Map for Manufacturers and Industrial Companies (with John Hayes of ENGINEERING.com. Requires registration)

Here’s another sobering reality about content marketing in general. This is a direct quote from Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute. This is what he wrote in the December 2015 issue of CCO, “Now is when we will witness the greatest content marketing failures of all time.”

That doesn’t mean content marketing is dead. Far from it, the reality is that it is alive and well. Joe goes on to say, “And right now we also will see some of the greatest success stories of our time.”

I can tell you from my own experiences that content marketing for manufacturers does work when done right.

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