Dawning of the Age of Content Marketing in the Industrial Sector

Manufacturers and industrial companies have a reputation of being slow to adopt new marketing strategies and techniques. If you are a B2B marketer who deals with engineering companies, you know how difficult it is to explain the true value of content marketing to upper management and the C-suite. As a result, many industrial companies remain in the dark about the power of content for inbound marketing.

If you Google “definition of content marketing,” it will return 4,760 results. Obviously it means different things to different people.

I went directly to the source, Joe Pulizzi, the man who literally wrote the book on content marketing (co-authored Get Content Get Customers) and the founder of the content matching site Junta42. His defines it as:

Content marketing is the art of understanding exactly what your customers need to know and delivering it to them in a relevant and compelling way to grow your business.

By now it is well documented that the Internet has changed buyer behavior dramatically and permanently. Lead or demand generation is still the number one priority of industrial marketers and content is the fuel that drives this marketing engine these days.

It is refreshing then to find an 81-year-old manufacturing company that only believes in content marketing but has implemented it very successfully.

I am referring to Miller Electric Mfg. Co., with headquarters in Appleton, Wisconsin, that manufactures arc welding and cutting equipment designed for manufacturing, fabrication, construction, aviation, motorsports, education, agriculture and marine applications.

They have done a fantastic job of understanding their customers’ needs and have segmented their content by industries and interests. Their site is packed with content in a variety of formats – articles, PDFs, videos and social sharing options including their own YouTube channel.

Contrary to the tenants of content marketing, “It is about the customer, not you,” most of the content is product-centric. However, it works very well in Miller’s case because customers’ needs trump marketing theory.

Their customers want specifics, a sea level view of how to get their welding or plasma cutting project done and not a 30,000 feet overview of the state of the welding industry. There’s plenty of that too, plus many business tools for the execs within their customer base.

Miller has built very active communities around their three core customer needs; Welding Discussions, Welding Projects and Motorsports that provide customer support both before and after the sale. Online forums foster direct interactions between in-house experts and customers, customer-to-customer and builds deeper realtionships.

Every element of their Website is carefully designed around the objective of serving relevant content that is segmented by customer type. Definitely not a case of one-size fits all content, focused only on the company and its products.

And the best part – not a single piece of content is gated, meaning not hidden behind a registration form. At least I couldn’t find any. (See my earlier post If You Want Better Leads, Set Your Content Free).

Online lead generation is done via a newsletter sign-up form and a shopping list generator that is automatically sent to a local distributor for fulfillment and support.

Content takes care of branding too. A slick video not only describes who Miller is but what truly differentiates them from the competition. Here’s The Story Behind The Power of Blue:

[youtube width=”480″ height=”385″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6xiWJ8OQvI[/youtube]

Let me know what you think of Miller’s content marketing strategy and implementation.

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