Posts

Inbound Marketing Must Set the Table for Industrial Sales

In my conversations with industrial companies about inbound marketing, I find my audience agreeing with me up to a certain point and then there is a big disconnect.

I see heads nodding in face-to-face meetings or hear plenty of “Uh-huhs” on the phone when I talk about the benefits of inbound marketing. They agree it helps them get found in search engines early and often, drives hordes of traffic to their site and fills the top of their funnel with qualified leads at a lower cost per lead.

Then comes the silence because they are having trouble connecting the dots between inbound marketing and sales.

I can’t help but think that the person at the other end is silently telling me, “Show Me the Money!” just like in the movie Jerry Maguire.

This is when I have to take a step back and start talking about how the job of inbound marketing does not end with lead generation but extends into setting the table for sales so they can be more productive.

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How Blogs Help Manufacturers Enter New Markets

The current economy and a global supply chain have forced many manufacturers to reevaluate how they do business these days. Traditional sources of new business – word-of-mouth referrals and repeat business from existing customers have slowed to a trickle for many of these industrial companies. They now find themselves in uncharted waters where they have to think of and appreciate marketing as something more than mere sales support.

Business owners and executives crave stability and predictability but expectations and behaviors of industrial buyers have changed. It is time to get out of your comfort zones and rethink your industrial marketing strategies and tactics if you want your company to survive and thrive. That is an important and sometimes painful lesson that many manufacturers have learned over the past couple of years.

Entering new markets (49%) is cited as one of the top three areas where manufacturers and industrial companies will be spending more time and effort in 2011. (Source: 2011 Economic Outlook Survey by GlobalSpec.)

How do you enter a new market where you have no brand awareness, credibility or customer references?

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Industrial Blogs for Lead Generation Using Inbound Marketing

If you are an industrial or a manufacturing marketer, you know all about the constant pressure of generating high-quality sales leads. Upper management asking you to fill the pipeline with ever-shrinking budgets is a given these days.

There are three key ideas in the headline of my post – 1) Industrial blogs, 2) Lead generation and 3) Inbound marketing. In this post I’ll talk about how the three work together nicely in industrial and manufacturing marketing.

Various studies and my own experiences with industrial clients show that filling the top of the lead-gen funnel is still the number one goal.

A study of over 1,400 small and mid-sized businesses found that marketers with blogs generated 67% more leads. (Source: HubSpot).

Industrial marketers who don’t use a blog are missing a key component of feeding the top of their sales funnels. The single biggest benefit of blogging that I know of is getting found early and often when engineers and industrial professionals are researching solutions using search engines.

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How Manufacturers can Resurrect Product Content from the Dead Zone

In general B2B and technology (software and IT) marketing, there is usually a well-defined path for lead generation and nurturing with content. These B2B marketers seem to have a bottomless well of content to tap into.

I’m sure that’s not by accident but the result of forward thinking and a lot of hard work on the part of content marketers in those industries.

Manufacturers of industrial products struggle when it comes to generating a steady flow of fresh marketing content. Most manufacturing websites are packed with product data sheets and catalogs, a few case studies, some application notes, may be a technical article or two and not much else. In other words, their content is very product-centric.

There is a good reason for that – see my earlier post, “Details Matter in Creating Content for Engineers.” In my opinion, product-centric content is and will always be very important in manufacturing marketing. However, their biggest impact is in the late stages of the industrial buy cycle and are not very effective in the early phases.

How can manufacturers resurrect their existing product content and join the content marketing revolution? Here are some ways that I can suggest: Read more

How to Coax Content Out of Engineers

Keeping a steady flow of content coming out of engineers and in-house technical experts is a challenge.

You know your work is cut out for you if you are a Content or a Marcom Manager at an engineering or manufacturing company.

Engineers are known to be passive participants when it comes to generating marketing and social media content of any kind. What can do you do if you are tasked with maintaining an active industrial blog that needs fresh content regularly?

If you are a marketing department of one, I suggest you do whatever you can to hone your journalistic skills. You will need to become good at:

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Manufacturers Use CAD and 3D Parts Catalogs to Generate Leads

For a while now, manufacturers have been using online searchable product catalogs to generate new leads and sales. Downloadable CAD files have played a major role in components and parts being designed in – a key and necessary step in the industrial buying process.

I have written about the benefits of creating an online CAD library in several of my posts in the past. See my previous article, “Details Matter in Creating Content for Engineers.”

I believe it was ThomasNet that had pioneered the use of online CAD drawings in the industrial sector. Their unique CAD technology allowed manufacturers to put 3D CAD models of their products directly into the hands of more than 100,000 engineers and architects who had registered on their site. That was back in 2005. I’m sure that number has grown significantly since then.

I found it quick and easy to search through the more than 67,000 categories listed in their CAD library. With just two clicks, I was able to narrow down my search to Pumps, Valves & Accessories > Valves: High Pressure. I could then select a specific manufacturer’s CAD library to view.

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Most Industrial and Manufacturing Websites are Still Stuck in Web 1.0

Lead generation from their Websites is the number one objective of most manufacturers and industrial companies that I talk to. Yet, their existing Websites have little to no lead generating capabilities.

That statement may come as a shock to many site owners because they are convinced that sales leads will just roll in because their site includes a toll free number in a big bold font, there are links to the “Contact Us” page everywhere and/or there’s a RFQ form on the site.

Here’s what’s wrong with that picture: Read more

Don’t Let Lack of Content Stop You from Blogging

The mantra for effective business blogging is to regularly pump out fresh content that is reader-centric and not focused too much on you, your products or your company. I agree.

More power to you if you already have a horde of avid readers who visit your blog every time you post new content. For others, the bulk of your blog traffic, in some cases as much as 80%, will come from first-time visitors. These people find your blog while searching for answers to their current problem or visit via social media.

It is not just your latest post that draws traffic. Your blog posts will remain online in perpetuity. A post that is a few months old to you may be news to someone else, as long as it is not time sensitive.

As an industrial marketer, you recognize the importance of constantly publishing fresh and relevant content to attract qualified visitors and convert them into leads.

However, at the end of the day, every manufacturer or distributor of industrial products wants to sell more widgets and not just publish more content. (See my earlier post, “Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher, Act Like an Investor.”)

Many manufacturers and industrial companies tend to back away from launching their business blog because of this content dilemma.

Is there a way for industrial marketers to solve this “Catch-22” problem for blogging? There is!

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Industrial Content Reengineering for Improving WIIFM Relevance

The challenge for many industrial marketers is making their content relevant to their prospects and customers. Industrial sales cycles are usually several months long and involve numerous people in different roles.

Identifying where a prospect is on the buying cycle is sometimes difficult because there are long periods of silence with little to no online activity to track. It is not possible to automatically trigger content when there are no regular behavioral patterns to measure and score.

Yet, these are qualified prospects so you can’t just discard them.

One solution that I’ve found to work well is to reengineer your existing content to focus on answering the “What’s in it for me (WIIFM)?” question for each of the stakeholders involved in the industrial buying cycle.

Why is industrial content reengineering important?

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How a Global Distributor’s Online Community for Engineers Pays Rich Dividends

Building a thriving online community around your social media strategy takes a lot of hard work. Sometimes it feels like you are operating in a vacuum where nobody seems to be listening or responding to your initiatives.

It is heartening then to read about an industrial company’s success in building an engineering community, which in turn generates leads, produces sales and increases the company’s awareness among its target audience.

A recent article by Paul Gillin (@pgillin) and published in BtoB Online, caught my attention because it talks about how engineers can have fun while doing serious business.

In “Who says engineers don’t know how to have fun?” Paul reports on the phenomenal success of element14, an online community for electronic design engineers. Read more