In general B2B and technology (software and IT) marketing, there is usually a well-defined path for lead generation and nurturing with content. These B2B marketers seem to have a bottomless well of content to tap into.
I’m sure that’s not by accident but the result of forward thinking and a lot of hard work on the part of content marketers in those industries.
Manufacturers of industrial products struggle when it comes to generating a steady flow of fresh marketing content. Most manufacturing websites are packed with product data sheets and catalogs, a few case studies, some application notes, may be a technical article or two and not much else. In other words, their content is very product-centric.
There is a good reason for that – see my earlier post, “Details Matter in Creating Content for Engineers.” In my opinion, product-centric content is and will always be very important in manufacturing marketing. However, their biggest impact is in the late stages of the industrial buy cycle and are not very effective in the early phases.
How can manufacturers resurrect their existing product content and join the content marketing revolution? Here are some ways that I can suggest:
- Transform product catalogs into eCatalogs: I’m not talking about just posting a PDF version of your components catalog. Create an online version that supports complex parametric searches to help design engineers find the exact part from your inventory of thousands of SKUs. Provide a side-by-side comparison of similar parts; recommend add-ons and accessories for up sells and cross sells; add links to dimensional drawings and CAD files and if applicable, provide cross references to your competitor’s popular part numbers; connect the catalog to an online RFQ and/or shopping cart.
- Convert static “How to Order” to an interactive configurator: It is standard practice to add a “How to Order” schematic on the back of product data sheets. Convert that very useful piece of content from a static printed application into a real-time online application. Help engineers specify your industrial products and add them directly into their Bill of Materials (BOMs). Take it up a notch and develop a mobile app for it.
- Use QR codes to link printed content to your Website: Adding a QR (Quick Response) code on printed data sheets, catalogs, business cards, ads in trade publications and tradeshow materials can breathe new life into old content. A QR code can hold a lot more information than just a simple URL. You can add text messages, full contact information, links to your social media profile, YouTube videos and invitations to webinars and events. For better conversion, don’t drive all your traffic from QR codes to your Home page. Instead create optimized land pages and drive traffic to them. Add some sort of a lead capture mechanism on your landing pages. You can embed a tracking code into QR codes to mine even more granular data about your visitors.
- Go mobile with technical content: Make application notes and technical articles into mobile marketing assets.
- Convert application notes into short how-to videos. Post them to your branded YouTube channel. This would make them easily accessible to industrial professionals who are on-the-go. Seeing how things work in a real world or simulated application is an engineer’s version of “show me the money.”
- In-depth technical articles that are primarily used for engineering thought leadership, can be split into a series of short podcasts. It would make it much easier to listen to them on a smartphone instead of reading pages of text on a small screen.
- Weave a story around a product: Everyone loves a feel good story. Write a news release about the application of one of your industrial products or product lines. Weave a human-interest story around the application and distribute the release widely. Add in-context URLs within the release to link back to your product page(s). Qualified visitors will be more receptive to downloading your product-centric content because you’ve piqued their interests with your story. This is how 3M has done it, “3M™ Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid Protects the Alamo at The Daughters of The Republic of Texas Library.”
That’s my short list of ways for manufacturers to breathe new life into old product content. How about you? How are you refreshing your existing product content? Feel free to share your thoughts below.