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Industrial Marketing Content that Helps Buyers

It is very common to find marketing content from manufacturers and industrial companies that is all about how great their products are or that their technology is innovative. Sellers may be too close to the forest to see the trees and firmly believe their marketing content is helpful to their buyers.

Buyers can easily find information about your products and that of your competition from their online research. So ask yourself this question, “Is my industrial marketing content really helping my buyers make a more informed decision and is it moving them closer to an RFQ?”

I suspect most of you already know the answer otherwise I wouldn’t be hearing and reading the same objections to content marketing from so many manufacturers and industrial companies. They know the “why” but are having a difficult time figuring out “how” publishing content will help them sell more of their industrial products.

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Content and Social Marketing: Connecting and Engaging with 10K+ Engineers

Most marketers agree that content marketing and social media have become mainstream B2B marketing strategies. Nine out of ten B2B marketers are now using content marketing to grow their businesses, according to the recent study released by MarketingProfs and Junta42|Content Marketing Institute.

The reason for not using content marketing that I hear most often from my industrial clients is “we don’t have and/or can’t produce enough content that our customers (engineering, technical and manufacturing professionals) will find valuable.”

This is a problem across the board for B2B marketers as reported by the same study – the largest challenge is “producing the kind of content that engages prospects and customers” (36% of respondents). One-fifth say that “producing enough content” (21%) and “budget to produce content” (19%) are their greatest challenge in content marketing.

It is very refreshing then to find an engineering company like Texas Instruments (TI) successfully use content and social marketing to reach and engage with over 10,000 design engineers and customers. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, TI is a global company that develops analog, digital signal processing, RF and DLP® semiconductor technologies used in consumer and industrial electronics products.

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Variety of Content is the Key in the Early Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle

In the early stages of the industrial buy cycle, you as the marketer have very little information about the visitor to help you tailor your marketing content to their needs.

In Needs Awareness and Research phases, the first two stages of the industrial buy cycle (see my earlier post Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle) your prospects and customers use a variety of online content to find solutions to their current problems and needs.

The chart below shows the variety of content used at different stages of the industrial buy cycle (Source: Understanding the Industrial Buy Cycle: How to Align Your Marketing with Your Customers’ Buying Process from GlobalSpec).

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How Relevant Marketing Content Helps B2B Branding

Branding is usually not a popular topic in B2B marketing, especially in the industrial sector. Most CEOs of manufacturing, engineering and technical companies do not believe in the value of brand building and consider it the domain of consumer marketing (B2C). Branding is an expense item like the rest of marketing.

That’s a shame and here’s why — among the top ten in Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2009, IBM was listed at #2, Microsoft, GE and Intel at number 3, 4 and 9 respectively. Yes, GE and Microsoft sell directly to end-users but they are primarily B2B companies.

According to a study done by Professor John A. Quelch, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, the common characteristic shared by the top B2B Global Brands is that their “CEO is a willing brand cheerleader, loves the brand heritage, and is a great storyteller.” He suggests that B2B marketers take a cue from their B2C counterparts when it comes to increasing brand awareness.

One of the key findings from the study was that B2B marketers are realizing that developing brand awareness among their customers’ customers can capture a larger share of channel margins and build loyalty that can protect them against lower-priced competitors. Professor Quelch provides the example of Intel and its very successful advertising campaign “Intel Inside.”

He ends his post by asking, “Would Dupont’s shareholder value be the same today if it had not made consumers aware of nylon, Lycra, [Teflon], Stainmaster and linked these innovations to the Dupont name? Definitely not.” Read more

Shortening the Industrial Buy Cycle in 5 Simple Steps

The other day I read an interesting article titled “5 Steps To Shorten The B2B Buying Cycle” by Kerry Spellman, Client Relationship Manager at iProspect. Even though her article is about the B2B buy cycle in general, it is a perfect follow up to my earlier post “Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle.”

The most frequent complaint that I have heard in the past year from my industrial clients is that their sales cycle has become longer, more complex and increasingly difficult to get on the buyer’s radar screen until it is too late. Any help that I can provide to my clients to alleviate the problem is greatly appreciated and rewarding for my business.

That’s precisely why Kerry’s article caught my attention. She has focused on identifying the problem and providing a 5-step solution to shorten the buy cycle. I have summarized here my takeaways on her five steps.

What is the key to shortening the buy cycle?

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