Posts

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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Content – The Biggest Hurdle in Digital Marketing for Manufacturers

Most manufacturers of industrial products agree that digital marketing is essential for their success now and going forward. Yet, many of these industrial companies are struggling to implement digital marketing because of  lack of relevant content.

At first glance, that may sound like an oversimplification of a bigger problem.

I talk to small and mid-sized manufacturers on a regular basis. What I have learned is that these companies need help with content in digital marketing at many levels.

This is not a new problem. You can read some of my earlier posts on inbound and content marketing for manufacturers and industrial companies.

Manufacturers are dealing with some big issues when it comes to content for digital marketing. Here are the ones that I have discovered:

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Making Industrial E-mail Marketing More Relevant

E-mail marketing to a house list continues to be the top marketing channel for many industrial companies and manufacturers according to Trends in Industrial Marketing 2011 from GlobalSpec. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that industrial marketers are very happy with the results.

The biggest challenge in e-mail marketing faced by industrial marketers, besides not enough resources, is getting their subscribers to pay attention to their emails when everybody’s inboxes are already overflowing with messages. Keeping e-mails relevant has become the key factor in proving their worth in industrial marketing.

In this post, I’ve listed the major areas to focus on if you want to make your industrial e-mail marketing more relevant and productive.

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Inbound Marketing Alone May Not Be Enough for Industrial Companies

Inbound marketing with content has been getting all the attention lately. Consultants and practitioners of “pull” marketing want marketers to abandon “push” marketing because they say it is old school and no longer effective.

I too have read all those studies about the how the Internet has permanently changed the industrial buyer’s behavior. They provide examples of how the target audience behaves in their personal lives where they TiVo through commercials, use caller ID to ignore telemarketing calls, direct mail pieces go straight to trash and of course, nobody ever reads a newspaper or a trade magazine anymore.

Ergo, these people are too busy at work and couldn’t be bothered with anything that is deemed as interruption marketing.

I agree that there is a lot of truth to all those findings. After all, every industrial marketer would like hordes of interested visitors swarming to his/her website, eager to sign up for free content and engage in a meaningful conversation at every stage of their buying cycle.

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Small Manufacturers Use Social Media Effectively

Social media still remains a mystery to many manufacturers and industrial companies even though there is an abundance of evidence of its success in general B2B marketing. Many engineers, specifiers, users and buyers of industrial products regularly use social media in their personal lives but work-related usage is limited among this audience.

I’ve read a few articles and blog posts about how some manufacturers are using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to listen, engage and market to their customers. However, these have been from other industrial marketing consultants like me.

I needed to find some real-world examples of manufacturers using social media effectively. And I don’t mean multinational behemoths that have deep pockets and can afford to experiment with marketing strategies. What about family owned and operated machine shops, fabricators and smaller manufacturers?

Videos play a key role in manufacturing marketing

Probably the most common use of social media is videos on YouTube. I found quite a few small manufacturers that offer precision CNC machining and fabrication services to large OEMs in a variety of industries.

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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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Don’t Take “Selling” Out of Content Marketing

Notice how discussions about content marketing are full of words like engagement, helpful, sharing, nurturing and community building. These are all great at soft selling without irritating the customer. No complaints there.

However, have we gone too soft with content marketing when it comes to selling industrial products and services?

May be it’s time to inject a healthy dose of reality into this warm and fuzzy picture. And that is…content marketing must deliver a real business value.

Let’s not kid ourselves; business is war, especially in today’s hyper-competitive global marketplace. A touch of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” couldn’t hurt.

Even though it applies across the board in B2B content marketing, I’ll stick to my domain of expertise – industrial and manufacturing marketing. At the end of the day, every content marketer must help sell more industrial products and services. It is as simple as that.

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Manufacturer Successfully Uses a B2C Online Marketing Tactic

I’m sure by now you’ve read or heard enough about how the lines are merging between Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) marketing. Some have even called B2B marketing obsolete in this day and age.

Whether you agree or not is a topic for another day. IMO, the decision making process is more complex and there are many more stakeholders involved in industrial and B2B purchases but it still boils down to people doing business with people.

That’s why I say more power to the manufacturer if it can successfully use a B2C marketing tactic to help its customers select the right industrial product(s) quickly and easily.

And that’s the focus of this blog post.

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Problem-centric Industrial Marketing

Please indulge me if my headline made you go “Huh?” Read on…

Industrial and manufacturing marketers are trained to sell solutions. Nobody buys product features, they want solutions. That’s marketing 101, right?

I get that. However, if you are a manufacturer or an industrial services company, ask yourself this question, why would anyone buy your products or services if they don’t know they have a problem?

It seems to me that industrial marketers need to first focus on raising awareness of the problem before they can sell their solution. That’s what I’m calling problem-centric industrial marketing.

As radically different as that may sound, it is based on very sound advice from none other than Seth Godin. I consider him to be a pioneer in many ways and someone who is always on the leading edge of marketing.

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Why Industrial Companies and Manufacturers Struggle with Content Marketing

Many industrial companies and manufacturers struggle with content marketing. It is not because marketers and decision-makers in these organizations don’t understand the value of inbound marketing but implementing an effective content marketing strategy is proving to be quite a challenge for them.

Usually the problem stems from three possible scenarios that I’ve come across. I’m going to make some suggestions in this post to help you solve the problem if you are an industrial marketer stuck in one of these scenarios.

Scenario #1: Founders of most small to mid-sized manufacturing and fabrication shops are hands-on people who have built their businesses from the ground up. Over the years, they’ve relied heavily on their personal contacts, business networks, sales reps and traditional outbound marketing to generate new leads and sales. These decision-makers are not going to change their mindset easily and overnight, adopt a philosophy of “think like a publisher.”    Read more