I am not referring to the age-old question, “What will we write about?” Creating content that an industrial and technical audience will find relevant is not easy.
An industrial marketer can only create so many application notes and case studies. Case studies are difficult to produce because well-known customers are reluctant to give their permission for fear of violating their corporate and legal guidelines. It is common in industrial content to find customers with generic names such as “A large Tier 2 OEM from the automotive industry” or “A major utility company on the US East Coast.”
Marketing consultants will advise you to address your customers’ pain points. Very good advice but I’m here to tell you that it is not always easy to do that in industrial marketing. Here’s why.
If you are a manufacturer or an industrial services company, ask yourself this question, why would anyone buy your products or services if they don’t know they have a problem?
To make your content marketing relevant, you may first need to raise awareness of the problem and help your customers understand they have a problem that they may not be aware of yet. Let me give you two examples to illustrate my point.
- A manufacturer of leak testers selling to the medical devices industry may need to educate its customers about the fact that they are using obsolete leak testers that may be able to handle leak rate requirements for current medical devices but would fail in new product development.
- An engineering company working primarily with clients from the power industry may have to educate their customers about new regulatory requirements such as National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) or Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). They are not likely to buy an engineering solution unless they understand how these regulatory changes affect their businesses.
As a distributor, manufacturer or an engineering company, you may think that your job #1 is to sell more products and solutions. It is not your responsibility to help educate your customers about the future product trends and regulatory compliance. You’d be missing out on good sales opportunities if you took that stand.
Think about it, if your content can provide free help to your customers’ Compliance or Engineering departments, you’ll automatically be viewed as a valuable partner and not seen as just another vendor. These influencers just might become your internal evangelists who help you reach key decision makers for your industrial products and engineering solutions.
This is very important to understand for industrial marketers because in most complex industrial sales, you will be dealing with two types of buyers – a technical buyer and a functional buyer. You need the technical buyer to specify your product(s) and carry your message to the functional buyer who may never visit your site.
For more on increasing awareness of problems with content, see my post, Problem-centric Industrial Marketing.
Let me hear your ideas on making content more relevant for industrial marketing.