Posts

Content Marketing for Manufacturers: Overcoming Writer’s Block

Overcoming writer's block in content marketing for manufacturers82% 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:

  1. For the first challenge, read – Industrial Blogging Lessons Learned from Working with Technical SMEs
  2. For the second part of the problem, read on…

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Content Creation vs. Content Marketing – There’s a Big Difference

Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere for the past couple of years, you’ve surely heard or read about the power and the popularity of content marketing by now.

91% of B2B marketers are using content marketing as shown in this chart from the survey done by CMI and MarketingProfs (2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks – North America).

Percentage of B2B Respondents Using Content Marketing

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What Does a Content Marketing Strategy Mean for Industrial Companies?

I’m sure every time you’ve talked with an industrial marketing consultant about content marketing, you’ve been told that you need to start with a “content marketing strategy.” That’s very good advice but what does it really mean if you are on the other side of the table and are responsible for marketing your industrial company?

I don’t want to overgeneralize the process of developing a good content marketing strategy because it varies from company to company. There are some guidelines and best practices that most professional marketing consultants follow but that doesn’t mean the strategies are cookie cutter plans.

What I’ve outlined here is my process for developing a sound content marketing strategy for industrial clients who are new to using inbound content marketing for generating more high quality leads at a lower cost per lead.

You are probably very familiar with the phrase “To succeed with content marketing, you have to think like a publisher.” Building on that foundation, my process is based on the time-tested principle of “the Five Ws (and one H)” of good journalism. In case you are not familiar with that term, the five Ws are – Who, What, When, Where and Why. The H stands for How.

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Why a Content BOM is Crucial to a Successful Industrial Web Design

Content BOM is not a typo in my headline. Read on…

I am amazed how often I find that creating content is an afterthought for people who are considering an industrial web design (more commonly a site redesign). Somehow, they assume the web designer will take care of content creation and the cost is included in their proposal for designing the site.

It is not surprising then that many of these industrial web redesigns are nothing more than a cosmetic facelift with copy-pasted content from their old site and/or outdated marketing collateral. Beyond the initial “looks nice” reaction, the new site doesn’t produce the results that were promised and expected.

What went wrong? The short answer – no content BOM (Bill Of Materials). Let me explain by using my personal experience.

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Industrial Content Marketing is Not Just for SEO

Content marketing is a central topic in most of my recent conversations with industrial companies. The primary goal is to generate better quality leads from their websites. That is the good news.

The not so good news is that they have a mistaken belief that content marketing is for search engine optimization (SEO). They’ve heard/read that Google loves fresh content, therefore all they need to do is publish lots of content and they’ll be on the first page of Google’s search results.

I agree that SEO is a very important goal of content marketing; after all, your website needs to be found by the right people when they are searching for industrial products and services that you provide. However, your industrial marketing content must do a lot more than just SEO.

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Is Your Industrial Content Marketing Reaching a Dead End?

In my daily interactions with manufacturing, engineering and industrial companies, inbound marketing or content marketing is a popular topic of discussion. Decision makers in these companies want to jump on the content marketing bandwagon but they really don’t have a strategic plan of action and/or a clear idea of how it will drive sales and generate revenues.

Not that I’m complaining, this gap means more business opportunities for me as an industrial marketing consultant. 😉

The problem as I see it is that many of these industrial companies still think of content marketing as a one-off marketing campaign. Their efforts are limited to spending some money on SEO and PPC to drive traffic to their websites. Some of them are filling the top of their sales funnel but the pipeline of qualified sales opportunities is running dry.

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Industrial Blogs and Their Benefits-Challenge Duality

Blogging is proving to be just as as paradoxical for industrial companies as the wave–particle duality in quantum physics. Manufacturers, industrial distributors and engineering companies that I talk to do understand the benefits of using a blog as the hub of their inbound marketing strategy for SEO, lead generation, thought leadership and branding. However, they are struggling with the challenge of creating engaging content for their industrial blogs.

It is difficult for these companies to shift their mindset to think like “publishers” when their entire library of content is strictly product-focused. Industrial distributors find it even more challenging to come up with their own content when traditionally they have depended on the manufacturers they represent to supply them with all the marketing content.

The problem of creating content and blogging is not limited to industrial companies. General B2B marketers are struggling too. This chart published by MeraketingSherpa illustrates my point.

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Creating Digital Content for Industrial Marketing

“We don’t have the time or the skills to write copy for digital content” is the most common reaction I get from clients when discussing their industrial marketing programs. I can sense the confusion in the room or over the phone when I tell them that creating engaging digital content is much more than copywriting. I have to quickly shift into my explaining mode right after that.

Creating digital content is neither easy nor quick. It is definitely a process that involves much more than copywriting and clever wordsmithing.

Myths and truths about digital content

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Retrofitting Blogs and Converting Industrial Websites into Blog Sites

I am seeing more manufacturers and industrial companies willing to try inbound marketing with content. A sure sign of that is the number of conversations that I have had recently with my current clients and new leads. They all want to either add a blog to their static industrial websites or convert them into dynamic blog sites.

Retrofitting a blog into an existing site is quicker and less expensive than recreating the site on a blogging platform. However, a blog site with a fully integrated blog has many advantages over the retrofit option. For a full list of benefits, refer to my earlier post, “Build Industrial Websites as Dynamic Blog Sites.”

Some companies need help setting up their business blogs but for most, the biggest obstacle is creating content. One way to get over this hurdle is to repurpose some of your existing content into blog posts.

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Website Content Must Address What’s Keeping Engineers up at Night

Speak to engineers across the board about what keeps them awake at night and you are likely to hear these three words repeatedly:

  • Risk
  • Security
  • Compliance

Does your website content address those issues? The content on your industrial site may be missing the mark completely if it doesn’t speak directly to engineers’ pain points.

If you are in the process of redesigning your industrial website, pause for a moment and think about the site content first. Just like the proverbial chicken or the egg conundrum, the recurring question in redesigning websites is – what comes first, site content or site design?

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