The Cardinal Rule of Industrial Content Marketing: Know Thy Buyers

cardinal rule of industrial content marketingIt may seem obvious to say that you must build your industrial content marketing strategy around your buyers but it doesn’t happen with regularity with most manufacturers, distributors and engineering companies. At least, that’s been my experience with industrial clients.

I often hear my clients tell me they know their customers very well. They can rattle off the industries they sell to and the job titles of their buyers at the drop of a hat. Some can even tell me the size of the company and other demographic data about their customers.

Unfortunately that is the extent of their knowledge about their buyers, very rarely if ever do they know the roles played by various stakeholders involved in the buying decision. Their assumption is the person who contacts their sales team is the buyer. Their entire content marketing strategy and SEO are built around that assumption.

The thinking goes something like this, “So and so from XYZ company called to inquire about our ABC widget. Therefore others (substitute job title) from similar companies must be searching for our products.”

Then they’ll ask me, “Isn’t that how it works?” My answer: Not exactly!

To illustrate my point, let me describe two scenarios that are very common in industrial buying.

  1. You are an industrial distributor that sells to the Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) market. Your buyer, the one who actually places the order is the Shop/Supplies Manager. S/he is the functional buyer in this case. However, this is not the person searching on Google and consuming your content. S/he is calling from an Authorized Vendor List (AVL). You are not going get the call or an email from this buyer unless you are on the AVL. You are not going to get on the AVL unless and until you are found (SEO) by the Plant or the Project manager. This is your real buyer and s/he is most likely using search phrases very different from your product names and is not likely to be interested in your production specifications. You need to understand their challenges, needs and the role they play in the buying process in order to find the right keyword phrases for SEO and create content that is relevant to him or her.
  2. You are a components manufacturer and sell custom engineered industrial products and solutions. Your functional buyer in this case is the Purchasing Manager. However, you are not going to get the Purchase Order or even get invited to submit an RFQ unless and until your components are specified first. The specifier in this case is usually a Design Engineer. S/he isn’t specifically searching for your components but is looking for online product configurators, 3D parts catalog and editable CAD files for your products. These are huge timesavers for design engineers and can mean the difference between your component being specified or not. A recent study found that a part is ultimately purchased 77% of the time when a CAD file is downloaded.

Your particular situation may be somewhat different from the two scenarios that I’ve described here but the underlying principle is the same – know thy buyers before you develop a content marketing strategy and start doing keyword research.

Read some of my earlier posts categorized under Content Marketing for more on developing strategies and for effectively implementing industrial content marketing tactics.

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