Industrial Content Marketing — Different Strokes for Different Folks

Any industrial content marketing strategy that is based on “one size fits all” content is likely to fail. That statement may seem like an overgeneralization but I have seen it happen one too many times to ignore.

Sure, there are many common types of content assets used by manufacturers and industrial companies but how they are used, who uses them and at what stage of their buying journey make all the difference. And that’s the main thrust of this post.

Before I dive into the subject matter, did you notice the two popular musical references I’ve made? First, “Different strokes for different folks” is a line from the 1968 hit song “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone. It later inspired the title of the popular TV sitcom, “Diff’rent Strokes.” The second musical reference is “One Size Fits All” from the 1975 rock album by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. These two phrases became so popular that they are commonly used today in marketing, business and life in general, sometimes in a different context than the original meaning.

Commonly used industrial content marketing assets

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What’s Hot and What’s Not in Digital Marketing for Engineers in 2014

I just downloaded my copy of the 2014 Digital Marketing for Engineers survey published by John Hayes and his team at ENGINEERING.com. There are some interesting and encouraging findings.

I’ll use a few of the charts from the survey results that show what they found and then add what I am seeing firsthand with my industrial clients.

Survey Question: Will your 2014 budget for the following activities be smaller, larger or about the same? Bar length indicates respondents who chose “larger”

Digital marketing for engineers 2014 budget increases

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Industrial Marketing in the Age of the Customer

Let me give credit where credit is due, I first heard the phrase “The Age of the Customer” from Forrester Research. It has a nice ring to it and IMO, it is a true reflection of buyer behavior today.

I have also heard/read the same phenomenon referred to as the Digital Disruption. Whatever you want to call it is fine with me, but the fact is that there has been a permanent shift in how customers interact with sellers now.

This means that sellers must change and adapt to new ways of acquiring new customers and keeping the current ones. If not, a more nimble and more relevant competitor who isn’t carrying the baggage of “old ways” of marketing will win over your customers and eat into your market share quickly. That’s the fact, Jack!

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Industrial Marketing, Lead Generation and Sales: It’s Complicated

Industrial marketing is complicatedRemember this rom-com from 2009? Despite the critics giving it mixed reviews, it went on to gross $219.1 million worldwide. A hit movie for sure.

Sometimes I feel the same way about industrial marketing for lead generation and its relationship to sales – It’s Complicated!

Every industrial company I talk to wants more leads at a lower cost per lead. Yet, very few have a formal process in place to measure marketing’s contribution to sales and revenue.

It is easy to measure data points such as Visitors, Pageviews, Pages/Visits etc. and downloads but it is not easy to tie them back to actual sales. Measuring ROI or ROMI sounds good in theory but difficult to accurately measure in the real world. According to some marketing pundits, these may be too simplistic to understand marketing’s full impact on sales.

Here are two sobering findings from a 2013 survey done by the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn and managed by Holger Schulze (@HolgerSchulze).

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Creating Thought Leadership for Manufacturing and Industrial Companies

Thought LeadershipThought leader is a term first coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the Booz Allen Hamilton magazine, Strategy & Business and used to designate interview subjects for that magazine who had business ideas, which merited attention. It has since evolved into describing someone who is supposed to have progressive and innovative ideas. (Source: WikiPedia).

If you are doing any form of industrial content marketing, you know that thought leadership is now a catchphrase. Everyone wants it but how do you create it? Just pumping out content that is nothing more than thinly disguised product promotions won’t cut it.

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How Mobile Technology Helps Component Manufacturers Make Their Printed Catalogs More Productive

Component manufacturers are keenly aware of the fact that design engineers must first specify their components or parts before purchasing can place an order. These manufacturers have relied on their printed catalogs in the past to get their parts “designed in.”

However, there is an inherent drawback to these static printed catalogs. An engineer must first leaf through the pages, find the right part number and then call the components manufacturer for details, CAD drawings and pricing information. This manual process can lead to delays, errors and lost opportunities.

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Are Industrial Companies Wasting Their Leads?

No matter the size of the company or the industry they are in, my conversations always boil down to them wanting more leads from their industrial marketing. Yet I see very few of these companies with a lead nurturing strategy in place to convert leads into sales opportunities. As a result, online leads sit untouched or go without a response for weeks if not months.

Often I see marketing people from manufacturing and industrial companies hand off leads to sales with little to no qualifying. This only causes more frustrations and reinforces the long-standing belief by sales that “Marketing generates crappy leads.”

It is important to understand the differences between a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). (See my post, “SAL is the Glue that Binds Sales and Marketing in Lead Generation.”)

Here are some eye-opening statistics from a study done by MarketingSherpa:

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5 Most Popular Industrial Marketing Blog Posts from 2012

Happy New Year!

For my first post in 2013, I thought I would take a quick look back at the past year. Here are the five most popular industrial marketing blog posts from 2012. I picked these based mainly on the number of Pageviews and the Average Time on Page according to my Google Analytics.

Social sharing and comments also played a part but to a lesser extent since my primary audience of engineers and industrial professionals tend to be passive participants in those channels as many studies have shown.

  1. Content Marketing for Engineers
    I’ll go out on a limb and state that content marketing for engineers is different. Yes, I do get it that the lines between work and personal lives have blurred thanks to today’s hyper-connected world where everybody is always “On.” And I agree that at the end of the day, marketing to engineers is still all about communicating with people. Call it P2P (People-to-People) marketing if you will. (Continue reading…)
  2. How Manufacturers Use 3D CAD Models and 2D CAD Drawings as Sales Enablers
    Manufacturers usually want their industrial marketing to generate leads that result in RFQs as quickly as possible. Inbound marketing tactics such as SEO and other content marketing strategies do fill the top of their sales funnel but converting leads to sales opportunities takes too long for their liking. Read more

News Releases in Industrial Content Marketing — Part II

Think of this post as an extension of my previous article “Why Industrial News Releases Make Good Blog Posts.” Let me start with some findings and statistics from different B2B content marketing studies that I have downloaded and read in the past couple of weeks.

First up is 2012 B2B Content Marketing Trends by Holger Schulze (@holgerschulze) who is the author of the syndicated blog “Everything Technology Marketing.” He recently surveyed the 30,000+ members B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn on various issues related to B2B content marketing.

Among B2B Technology Marketers, the leading content marketing tactics are case studies (62 percent) followed by white papers/ebooks (61 percent) and press releases (58 percent). Those are the results in response to the question, “What content marketing tactics do you actively use?” The chart below shows the complete breakdown of answers.

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Why Industrial News Releases Make Good Blog Posts

Press or news releases about industrial products have been and still are very popular. They work because the content is mainly about features that help engineers specify these industrial products.

In the past, manufacturers used them primarily in traditional print media like an industry-specific tabloid. People sent back a completed reader service or bingo card and leads were generated that way. Of course, those days are long gone. Today, you are more likely to see a URL like http://ogpe.hotims.com or http://powereng.hotims.com printed at the end of the news release.

Since industrial companies struggle with content, I think one way to overcome the problem is to take a traditional marketing tactic like a news release and turn it into a blog post for use in digital marketing.

What I’m suggesting here is not to copy word-for-word from your old product releases but to expand on them and create new blog posts. Instead of listing product features and specifications, your blog posts can add a lot more information, which will be more educational rather than a blatant sales pitch.

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