Posts

Industrial Content Marketing Fails to Engage with Target Audience

Industrial content marketing used by manufacturers, distributors and engineering companies is failing to engage the target audience – engineers, technical professionals and industrial buyers. This is not a new problem.

Back in 2014, Forrester had published their research report titled B2B Content Fails The Customer Engagement Test. Here’s a statement from their brief – “Nowhere is the struggle to produce compelling business-to-business (B2B) content more evident than on corporate websites: When 26 out of 30 fail to pass even a basic 10-criteria test, it’s time for chief marketing officers (CMOs) to seriously rethink their content marketing plans for 2015.”

Fast forward to 2016 and industrial companies are still struggling with the same problem. The challenges that manufacturing marketers face are very similar to those experienced by all B2B marketers. 65% of manufacturing marketers said producing engaging content is their biggest challenge (Source: 2016 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/ MarketingProfs).

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Why Manufacturers Need a Multichannel Industrial Marketing Strategy

Multichannel industrial marketing strategy doesn’t get that much attention or buzz. It should, because it is a closer reflection of how manufacturing and engineering companies are marketing these days.

It’s a fact that in 2016, manufacturers and industrial companies are spending more of their marketing dollars on digital marketing tactics. This of course makes sense because 53% of engineers and industrial professionals spend 6 hours or more per week on the Internet for work-related purposes.

Manufacturing marketing budgets and satisfaction levels

Here are a few charts from research studies done by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), ENGINEERING.COM and IHS Engineering360.

Manufacturing marketing budgets and spends

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Two Controversies That May Disrupt Industrial Digital Marketing Plans

In the past week, I have read several blog posts about two content marketing controversies that have set the blog world on fire. Mind you, these bold predictions are not put forth by some obscure blogger looking for his/her 15 minutes of fame by publishing something controversial.

First up is “Content Shock” by Mark Schaefer. Mark is a highly respected and accomplished marketing consultant. I read his blog posts often. Here’s the graphic from his post that summarizes his theory.

Definition fo Content Shock by Mark Schaefer

As I said before, this is not a post written purely for the purpose of shocking his readers. Mark has given this a lot of thought and has provided strong points to support his point of view. Do take the time to read his complete post, “Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy.” There are over 300 comments that provide even more insights from both sides of the argument. The people commenting read like a “Who’s Who” of the content marketing world.

I found three very well thought out rebuttals to Mark’s position. They are:

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Inbound Marketing won’t Boost Short-term Sales for Industrial Companies

Inbound marketing is a frequent topic of discussion in my daily conversations with Owners, CEOs and Business Development professionals from manufacturing and industrial companies. Irrespective of the size of the company, they all have one thing in common – they want to boost sales as quickly as possible.

These industrial professionals have heard about inbound marketing being the “in” thing these days from marketing consultants like me and from other sources. However, it is a shock to them when I tell them “Inbound marketing is not a short-term fix. It is a long journey.”

They don’t want to hear that, they want their phones to start ringing, RFQs coming in and their sales team involved in deep conversations within 30 days.

Those are unrealistic expectations in my opinion. Here’s why; unlike a one-off ad or direct mail campaign, inbound marketing requires assessment of your current marketing programs to identify weaknesses, developing a strategic plan of action, implementing tactics, auditing existing content to identify gaps, creating new content and repurposing old ones, tracking, measuring and refining the process. These steps take time, at least six months for all the moving parts to mesh together like a finely tuned engine that will drive lead generation and generate sales.

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Manufacturers Need Lead Management to Close the RFQ Gap

Talking to manufacturers and industrial companies on a daily basis has convinced me that when they say they need help with their lead generation, they really want more RFQ (Request For Quote) opportunities.

Generating new leads, qualifying and nurturing them until they turn into a RFQ is too much work for them. For a real-life example of this lead generation disconnect, read my post, Manufacturers: Don’t Start a Lead Generation Campaign without Sales.

During my internal discovery process, in nine out of ten cases, I’ll hear the President/CEO/Owner of manufacturing or industrial companies tell me one of their goals is to double the volume of RFQs they generate. To most of these decision makers winning new business is strictly a numbers game. They are convinced that the more they quote, better are their chances of scoring more deals.

I have to politely disagree with them because “activity is not the same as productivity.” It is not an easy sell for me to change this mindset. I have to make a strong business case before I can even get their attention.

Here are the steps I go through to change their minds and have worked well for me:

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2012 Content Marketing Trends for Manufacturers and Industrial Companies

I just finished reading an excellent research report from the good folks at Content Marketing Institute (CMI). This report is chock full of statistics and graphs about B2B content marketing. In this post, I want to focus on some of their findings that I feel apply to content marketing for manufacturers and industrial companies.

Even though the content marketing adoption rate for these companies is at an impressive 83%, I am surprised that it is even that high; the Manufacturing/ Processing industry (as defined in the report) is dead last among the six industries studied.

What is encouraging though is the fact that 68% of companies with 10 – 99 employees maintain a blog as compared to only 55% for larger companies that employ this content marketing tactic. Many of the manufacturers and industrial companies fall in the smaller size category.

That’s not the only good news for blogs. Even though other marketing tactics like in-person events and webinars are still seen as the most effective tactics, this year blogs registered a 45% increase in “perceived effectiveness” as compared to the study done in 2010. (See chart below).

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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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Cool Stuff Manufactured in America

In the spirit of Thanksgiving later this week, this post is my way of giving thanks to those manufacturers who still believe in the value of “Made in America.”

Manufacturing has been a bright spot for a while now in our economic recovery despite the anemic growth and sporadic hiring. During these holidays, I’d much rather talk about the good news instead of Wall Street’s roller coaster ride or the recent failure of the Super Committee.

I came across a slew of manufacturing videos called “Cool Stuff Being Made” from National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). You will find lots of useful information on their site and if you like, you can join and get involved.

I’ve selected three for this post because they are about small manufacturers in the US. Some of these manufacturers are family-owned and operated and have been around for decades. Surviving the economic turmoil and thriving while bucking the offshoring trend are major accomplishments that need to be recognized. Read more

Are Community Forums Good for Manufacturers and Industrial Companies?

Blogging and mainstream social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube get all the attention these days. What about good ol’ community forums?

Community forums have been around a lot longer than the newer social media channels. Some even consider it the original crowdsourcing platform for content. Traditionally used as customer support tools by manufacturers and industrial distributors, the discussion threads were primarily text-based. However, the more modern incarnation of community forums support rich media content, file attachments and social sharing options.

According to a survey done by GlobalSpec (Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector – 2011), 33% of industrial companies provide an online discussion community for customers, and 32% provide one internally for employees. (See chart)

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Using E-mail Marketing for Lead Generation

Most manufacturers and industrial companies use email marketing as a way to keep in touch with new leads and existing customers. This usually means sending out a bi-weekly or a monthly email newsletter.

It has been my experience within the industrial sector that these companies rarely use email marketing proactively for lead generation. Here I am not referring to new subscribers to newsletters and free content. To me, those contacts are prospects and not leads. There is a difference. For more on that, refer to my post, “Subscribers to Free Content are NOT Leads.”

How to generate quality leads using email marketing

Email marketing is an effective tactic for generating high-quality leads from an audience of engineering, industrial and technical professionals. However, it does require you to think about emails somewhat differently.

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