Any industrial content marketing strategy that is based on “one size fits all” content is likely to fail. That statement may seem like an overgeneralization but I have seen it happen one too many times to ignore.
Sure, there are many common types of content assets used by manufacturers and industrial companies but how they are used, who uses them and at what stage of their buying journey make all the difference. And that’s the main thrust of this post.
Before I dive into the subject matter, did you notice the two popular musical references I’ve made? First, “Different strokes for different folks” is a line from the 1968 hit song “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone. It later inspired the title of the popular TV sitcom, “Diff’rent Strokes.” The second musical reference is “One Size Fits All” from the 1975 rock album by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. These two phrases became so popular that they are commonly used today in marketing, business and life in general, sometimes in a different context than the original meaning.
Commonly used industrial content marketing assets
It is very common to find Application Notes, Case Studies, White Papers, Product Videos and Datasheets on websites of most manufacturers and industrial companies. Some have launched industrial blogs to differentiate themselves as thought leaders. They individually and collectively play a role in industrial content marketing. This handy little chart from IHS/GlobalSpec shows you how some of these content assets fit during a typical industrial buy cycle.
9 must-have content marketing assets that persuade industrial buyers to take action
There are content marketing assets that are unique to industrial marketing. I call them must haves because they can be tied directly to RFQs. For many manufacturers, that is the primary measure of a qualified lead.
- Online product configurators
- “How to Order” part number builders
- Parametric part number search applications
- Valve sizing programs
- Online maintenance data management, tracking legacy installations and managing spare parts inventory
- 2D CAD Drawings and 3D CAD Models
- Online interactive and real-time design tools
- Cross reference guides
- Evaluation and engineering kits
Not every content asset from the above list is applicable to all manufacturers and industrial companies. Most are best suited for industrial component manufacturers that are targeting design engineers. This group of people doesn’t score high on your typical BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe) method of scoring leads because their role is that of a “specifier.” However, the component manufacturer is not going to get to the RFQ unless and until its component or part is designed in or specified by the engineer. In other words, specifiers are the key decision makers even though they are not functional buyers.
A part is ultimately purchased 77% of the time a CAD file is downloaded according to the 2013 Engineering Survey Results released by CADENAS PARTsolutions.
Here’s another scenario where these content marketing assets play an important role. Let’s say you manufacture process control equipment that goes on skid-mounted systems often used in the upstream oil and gas industry. Your customer is an OEM/Fabricator. He fabricates the system to his customer’s specifications. This is typically an EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) company and is the technical buyer. The EPC company decides which vendor will supply the valves and level controllers that go on the fabricated system. In other words, your customer has little to no influence on the selection of the preferred vendor. Therefore, your content marketing must address the needs of the technical buyer even if s/he is not your direct customer.
Industrial content marketing must serve the different needs of different decision makers during their buying cycle. This is becoming even more important because today’s engineers and technical buyers are in a self-serve mode for information and are not likely to engage with your sales people until they have completed 55% to 60% of their buying journey. You may be out of contention even before the process begins.
You can see why I said at the very beginning that industrial content marketing that relies on a one size fits all content strategy is not likely to be very successful. What kinds of content assets have proven to be successful in your industrial marketing?