Content marketing for manufacturers has become a staple of industrial marketing with 61 percent using it as a marketing tactic and 54 percent planning to increase their spending on content creation (Source: IHS GlobalSpec Research Report).
However, the same study also found that only nine percent can demonstrate how content marketing contributes to sales (ROI) and only 15 percent align their content with the different phases of their customers’ buy cycle.
In other words just publishing content without a good content marketing strategy isn’t going to move the needle for manufacturers and other industrial companies. That’s the biggest problem I see firsthand when talking to these companies.
The mindset is pretty much that of a one-off marketing campaign instead of content marketing being an overarching marketing strategy to meet their business and sales goals. There is very little time spent, if any on discussing the “Why” of industrial content marketing and the focus is on the “What” as in “what should we write about?”
That is not just my observation; here are a few findings from the B2b Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.
- 70% of manufacturing marketers are producing more content than they did one year ago.
- 30% of manufacturing marketers say they are effective at content marketing as compared to 42% of B2B marketers.
- 21% of manufacturing marketers have a documented content strategy as compared 44% of B2B marketers.
The IHS GlobalSpec report states, “These results [Findings from their report] reveal plenty of opportunity for industrial companies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their content marketing efforts.”
Developing a content marketing strategy for manufacturers
- What business and sales goals do you expect to achieve with content marketing? It is hard to stay focused on your goals if don’t have clear objectives in mind. Increasing sales is the outcome you want, how you get there with content marketing is the crux of the strategy.
- Who are you targeting with your content marketing? Broad definitions like customers or industries will result in creating “one-size-fits-all” content that will produce poor results. You need to map out various stakeholders (personas) involved on your customers’ side, their roles in the decision making process and their preferences for consuming content. Not all stakeholders will visit your site and neither will your sales team get in front of all of them.
- What core message will be the foundation of your content marketing strategy? You can write about different topics but the core message must make your expertise visible to the audience and truly set you apart from the competition. Your customers care most about solving their issues and problems and not so much about your expanded product features and service capabilities. Try to create interesting stories that put the focus on your customers instead of you.
- When will you publish new content and how will you distribute it? Expecting your busy in-house Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to spend their time on creating content will lead to a sporadic publishing schedule. Develop an editorial calendar for the year with built-in flexibility for change; assign a dedicated person to manage the schedule by working closely with your SMEs. Figure out which social media channels and groups are the best fit for your content and then use them to promote your content to drive qualified visitors back to your blog or main site. Relying only on your blog is like using a “post and pray” strategy which most likely won’t get you the audience and/or increase your awareness (branding and thought leadership).
- What will you track and who will be responsible for measuring ROI? Clearly define Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) and marketing KPIs that are relevant to you. Just looking at traffic numbers, bounce rates and keyword rankings won’t help you connect sales with dollars spent in content marketing. Marketing Automation can be a big boon but just adding more technology is not the answer – the right people, processes, complete buy-in from management and close alignment between Sales and Marketing are the keys to successful content marketing.
You can read some of my earlier posts for more on developing a good strategy for content marketing for manufacturers. I suggest the following:
- Planning Your Industrial Marketing Strategy for 2015
- Industrial Content Marketing — Different Strokes for Different Folks
- Industrial Content Marketing for Accelerating Sales Pipelines
Do you have a documented content marketing strategy and how closely do you follow it?