Some of the people I talk to about industrial content marketing seem to be hung up on adding more technology to solve their lead generation problems. The thinking behind it is that technology will cover up the many holes in their strategy, content and help speed up the process. This mindset is not surprising since the top person at many of these manufacturing and industrial companies is an engineer. That is not a dig at engineers, I’m an engineer myself!
Once while discussing an industrial website redesign project, the owner/founder of a manufacturer of valve actuators told me, “I can program anything.” I had to politely bring to his attention that “coding isn’t marketing.”
The rush to add marketing technology
It is not that technology is new to them. Many of these industrial companies already use sophisticated technology such as ERP and CRM systems to run their businesses. So, adding marketing technology is a natural solution for them when pipelines run dry and sales teams are screaming for more leads.
Here’s a true story to illustrate my point. I was retained by a manufacturer of leak detection systems to help them with their industrial content marketing program. Before I could even get started, I discovered a serious internal problem. They had recently added a well-known Marketing Automation (MA) system and integrated it with their back-end Salesforce CRM. The problem was that the sales people were inundated with data that they considered useless in doing their job.
So instead of doing content marketing, my top priority became working with the sales team to understand their needs and frustrations. It took me close a to a month of going and back forth with them in setting up the right filters to provide useful intel on leads without cluttering up their dashboards while keeping the rest of the data inside MA. Life became a lot easier after that for Sales and Marketing and I could focus on helping my client with industrial lead generation and conversion.
Creating more content isn’t the answer either
Unfortunately, very little time is spent on creating an industrial marketing strategy that aligns with their sales process and business goals. Their buyer personas are defined in generic terms using firmographics data (firm demographics) with little to no insights on the various stakeholders involved in the buying decision, their challenges and needs. The net result is creation of more product-centric content that is not engaging their target audience and converts poorly into qualified leads.
“Creating engaging content has become even more challenging, with 62% of marketers naming it a top challenge in 2017.” That is one of the findings from Research Report: Engineering Marketers’ 2017 Spending Plans from ENGINEERING.COM.
Mapping content to long and complex industrial buy cycles
Having a good understanding of how industrial buyers interact with your content at different stages of the buy cycle is critical to the success of content marketing. Take a look at these charts from research studies published by IEEE Engineering360 (formerly known as GlobalSpec).
Geoffrey Moore said, “The disciplines of STEM enable the digital universe. The liberal arts activate it. One provides the infrastructure, the other the content that is communicated across it. Both are required to create the digital fabric that makes up an increasing part of our personal, social, political, and economic lives.”
Tom Fishburne recently said, “Trying to make an organization ‘customer-centric’ through technology alone is relying on pixie dust.”
In my experience with industrial content marketing, you need both. Use technology to deepen your insights and automate certain tasks but it is content that feeds and drives marketing technology and not the other way around.