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Making Industrial Content Marketing Engaging for Engineers and Industrial Buyers

Industrial content marketing is facing a big challenge because manufacturers are struggling to make it more engaging for their target audience. They have a good grasp of industrial content marketing’s contributions at the top of funnel but can’t quite connect the dots when it comes to measuring its effectiveness in driving sales.

Show me the money - Tom Cruise as Jerry MaguireThe problem is not just a matter of better analytics and/or in-depth ROI reports from Marketing Automation. These marketing tools are a big help but can’t completely close the gap. The decision makers at these industrial companies want to know how industrial content marketing will increase their sales before they invest the money. In other words, they are saying, “Show me the money.”

Challenges with industrial content marketing exist across different industries and varying company sizes. Consider these key findings from the sixth annual content marketing survey, 2016 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs:

  • 81% of manufacturers in North America are using content marketing
  • 87% said Sales was their number one goal
  • 18% said they were effective (That is not a typo! Effectiveness was defined as “accomplishing your overall objectives” in the survey)
  • 82% of manufacturing marketers cited creating more engaging content as their top priority

There is a big disconnect here between industrial content marketing and its impact on sales.

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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.

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Industrial Marketing Plan: A 3-Phase Approach

Industrial marketing plan

As we go deeper into Q4 with the holidays right around the corner, most industrial companies start to think about their industrial marketing plan for the next year. As an industrial marketing consultant, I’m often asked by clients the best way to approach this important planning task.

My preferred way is what I call the 3-phase industrial marketing plan approach. I refer to them as phases instead of steps because each phase consists of several smaller steps.

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Content Marketing for Industrial Companies – Is There Content Overload?

There was a time not too long ago when manufacturers and industrial companies were blamed for being slow adopters of content marketing. Have we progressed from that to too much content in just a few short years?

Take a look at these stats from the 2015 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs. 65% of manufacturers are creating more content this year compared to one year ago and that is down slightly from the previous year’s 70%.

Content marketing for industrial companies in 2015

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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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Why are Manufacturers Still Struggling with Content Marketing?

Last week, I received an advance copy of the research study, 2015 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America thanks to Amanda Subler of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). There may be slight differences between my draft copy and the final version that was published by CMI recently.

Even though there has been a slight decline this year in the number of manufacturers who said they use content marketing (82% vs. 86% last year), far more manufacturing marketers cited sales as a goal this year than they did last year (85% vs. 56%). Content marketing for driving sales has now become an accepted industrial marketing strategy.

Content marketing for manufacturers

That’s the good news.

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Content Marketing for Manufacturers Must Go Deeper than ToFu

Many manufacturers are using content marketing but few consider it effective in generating leads that turn into sales opportunities. According to the 2014 study done by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 86% of manufacturing marketers use content marketing but only 30% of manufacturing marketers say they are effective at it.

content marketing for manufacturers

Here’s another finding, according to the 2014 Forrester Research/Business Marketing Association/Online Marketing Institute study, while 51% of B2B marketing leaders rate their content marketing practices as very mature, an overwhelming 85% fail to connect content activity to business value — and, as a result, fail to retain customers or win their long-term loyalty.

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