Engaging Content that Solves and Sells

Good content marketers know that engaging marketing content moves the needle. It persuades readers to take an action and guides them along in their sales cycle in a logical manner.

It is a balancing act to create content that solves problems for your readers (prospects and customers) without talking too much about your products and services. Product-centric sales pitches that are disguised as “how-to” content will turn off your audience and damage your credibility as a marketer.

National Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE:NSM), a leader in power management technology and manufacturer of high-performance analog products, has done a fantastic job of using engaging content that helps it core audience of design engineers while generating $1.42 billion of sales in 2010.

Their Website uses a simple tabbed interface to guide visitors quickly to the right section(s) based on what they want to do – learn, design, search/select or buy. Here’s a screenshot of the Home page with the Tools tab open (most of the valuable content is here).

National Semiconductor's Website

This site not only has very useful content, it is organized in a way that is designed to save time for the visitor and motivate him/her to take a desired action instead of passive reading.

Things that caught my attention were:

  • Design engineers searching for the right part number (P/N) have the choice of three P/N search functions — Parametric Catalog Tables, PDF Selection Guides or Cross Reference Search. No matter what term(s) someone uses to describe a part, the right P/N is only a few clicks away. The parametric search option uses a Flash driven tree navigation menu that helps design engineers find the exact component quickly and easily.
  • There are several options and content formats if someone needs assistance with a design problem. They include application notes, reference designs, evaluation boards, order samples (key to securing design wins that lead to production-volume orders), videos, PowerWise® Design University and technical support. The online Analog University is a powerful learning tool that uses content to engage with beginners (students, design engineers of tomorrow and future employees) and advanced design professionals (qualified leads).
  • The showpiece of National’s content strategy is their WEBENCH® online design tool (see circled in red on the right in the screenshot). It creates a graphical snapshot of all available options based on multiple design parameters, such as power efficiency, footprint and system bill of materials (BOM) cost. Pulling data from 25 different switching power supply architectures and 21,000 components, allows engineers to cull through billions of power supply design alternatives in a matter of seconds. Modifying a design criterion allows the user to see the effects of those changes in real time. The WEBENCH Tools help engineers strike the right balance between price and performance, find parts that are in stock and order components from an authorized distributor.
    National Semiconductor’s WEBENCH Visualizer won top honors in the 20th Annual EDN Innovation Awards.
  • After doing all the heavy lifting, engineers can personalize their online content by saving designs, tracking samples and orders (see bottom circle).

National definitely has got it right when it comes to using online marketing for solving real problems for its target audience, engaging with them in a meaningful way and generating sales.

Do you know of other industrial companies that use content effectively? Feel free to add them here via your comments.

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