Using CAD and BIM files in manufacturing content marketing
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Using CAD and BIM Files in Manufacturing Content Marketing

CAD and BIM files are not the first things that come to mind when one talks about manufacturing content marketing. However, they are two of the most valuable and effective content assets to use for manufacturers of components and parts.

Why do I say that? Because 82% of CAD/BIM downloads turn into actual sales. They are so effective that I prefer to refer to them as “sales enablers.”

I didn’t pull out that statistic out of thin air. That’s the finding from the study, 6 Digital Essentials for Selling & Marketing to Engineers & Architects published by CADENAS PARTsolutions. I understand if you are somewhat skeptical about that stat considering the source (They provide eCATALOGsolutions and PARTsolutions). I have read similar statistics on CAD and BIM downloads from various other sources too. The sample size for this study is statistically significant; 128,000 engineers and architects, from more than 500 companies worldwide were surveyed.

CAD and BIM files downloaded lead to actual sales

CAD and BIM files are invaluable in lead generation for manufacturers

Manufacturers are understandably reluctant to just giveaway these valuable files, many of them maybe proprietary. At the very least, they want this content to be gated behind a simple registration form.

Engineers are willing to provide their basic contact information in exchange for what they see as a “value exchange.” According to the 2021 State of Marketing to Engineers report published by IEEE GlobalSpec, engineers are willing to complete a form that asked for their work email, first name, last name, company name, job title, and industry to access what they consider to be valuable content that will help in their daily work.

Engineers willing to fill form for CAD and BIM downloads

The multiplier effect of CAD and BIM downloads

An 82% conversion rate would be terrific by any measure, especially when it can be directly attributed to manufacturing content marketing. That is not an easy task when the sales cycles are long and require multiple touches with various stakeholders. I have written about the problem of incorrect attribution in industrial marketing. Also see my article, Content Marketing for Manufacturers: Are You Using its Full Power?

The same study from CADENASPARTsolutions found that an average of 20.9 components are purchased for each online CAD/BIM download. That is huge!

Multiplier effect of CAD & BIM downloads

Keep in mind that’s only an average. A Design Engineer who specifies electronic components could result in thousands of those bought when it is an order for production volume. Whereas it may be just one or two if it is something like a motor or a pump for a skid system. Market directly to the decisionmaker with CAD and BIM

Market directly to decisionmakers with CAD and BIM

If you applied the traditional BANT (Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline) criteria, Design Engineers wouldn’t qualify since they have little to no buying authority. Yet, unless s/he specifies your component, the Purchasing Department can’t issue a PO or email you for a quote. This is something unique in manufacturing marketing where you are dealing with a Specifier (Engineer) and a functional buyer (Purchasing Department).

Understanding this concept is very important for your manufacturing content marketing to be successful. I consider it to be so significant that I had made it a key talking point in my presentation for the Industrial Marketing Summit at the 2019 Content Marketing World.

Conversely, a manufacturer could choose not to offer downloadable CAD and BIM files. What’s the worst that could happen?

Well, I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.

“72% will choose another supplier if native CAD/BIM data is not available online”

Manufacturers face problems without online CAD & BIM files

Partner with an established provider of digital solutions for marketing to engineers

I have seen manufacturers building online libraries of CAD files by publishing PDFs on their own website. That may have been good enough several years ago, but not anymore.

Engineers want much more than that. Here are the key benefits you can offer them with a robust and secured digital solution.

  • 3D models for preview
  • Real-time product configurators
  • Downloadable CAD files that they can plug right into their designs
  • Consistency and accuracy throughout the design process
  • Save time for engineers who are already under a time crunch from shortened time to market and asked to do more with less
  • Save them time from doing repetitive tasks that they hate doing anyway

Conventional 3D models and STEP for exchanging data between CAD systems are no longer enough. Instead of using dozens of words trying to explain this, let me quote directly from CADENAS PARTsolutions, “To add value to the engineering digital transformation process, digital components must have detailed data which goes beyond pure geometry. This data includes kinematics, direction of motion, degrees of freedom, acceleration, deceleration, nozzle, connection information, mass centers and more.”

NOTE: I’m not associated with CADENAS PARTsolutions or any other solutions provider. Neither am I trying to promote any company. I’m just a firm believer in the benefits of using CAD and BIM downloads in manufacturing content marketing because I have seen it working first-hand with my clients.

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