Have Concerns About Inbound Marketing for Manufacturers?

Conversations about inbound marketing for manufacturers invariably lead to several questions and/or concerns. I do spend quite a bit of time educating my prospects and clients about inbound marketing.

I’ve published several articles on inbound and industrial content marketing in the past. Just do a search here or select it from the Categories to find them. I’ll summarize the key points and cite some of the latest statistics to validate my claims.

Inbound marketing for manufacturers is not a quick fix for slow sales

This is probably the single biggest area of concern and/or questions. Manufacturers want leads that turn into sales quickly. They don’t want to wait 6 to 9 months for results.

Of course, they don’t want to hear that, they want their phones to start ringing, RFQs coming in and their sales team involved in deep conversations in 30 days or less.

Unfortunately, that’s an unrealistic expectation because inbound marketing with content is not a one-off campaign or a project; it is a process! It takes time to gel before it can produce measurable and repeatable results.

That doesn’t mean you have to wait to see any measurable results. A well-planned and executed inbound marketing program will produce incremental improvements in the short term.

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Industrial Content Marketing that Engages Engineers

When it comes to effective industrial content marketing, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “One-size-fits-all content” just doesn’t cut it. How do you make your content more relevant to time-challenged engineers, deal with the age gap within your target audience, earn their trust and build stronger relationships? Those are some major challenges in industrial content marketing that can’t be overcome by just pumping out more content.

You are not alone if you are having difficulties with manufacturing content marketing meeting all your goals. According to the findings from the research report, 2018 Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America published by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 55% of manufacturers in North America reported that they were only moderately successful in achieving their organization’s desired/targeted results.

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Why Industrial Content Must Be More Customer-Centric

Industrial content on websites of most manufacturers and industrial companies tends to be heavy on product specifications. Of course, it is important to have technically accurate and up-to-date product information because that’s the first step in an engineer’s evaluation of your product or solution, especially if you manufacture a component that must be designed in.

However, product specifications alone are not enough to differentiate you from the competition. There are shortcomings to being overly reliant on product-centric content as an industrial content marketing strategy.

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Overcoming the Challenge of Marketing to Busy Engineers

Engineers from different fields probably make up a large part of your target audience if you are a manufacturer, distributor or an engineering company. As an industrial marketer, you know it is a challenge marketing to engineers.

While engineers do use social media, they tend to be passive participants making it hard to engage with them using those channels. To illustrate that point, here are a few key findings from the 2016 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector report published by IEEE ENGINEERING 360.

  • 82% of engineers and technical professionals spend no more than two hours weekly on social media for work-related purposes.
  • 70% of industrial professionals have never shared or posted news about their companies to their own social networks.
  • 64% of engineers and technical professionals say the biggest challenge in using social media for work is its inefficiency when compared to other methods such as search engines, supplier websites and online catalogs.
  • 55% said that social media has too much noise and not enough substance.

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Making Industrial Content Marketing Engaging for Engineers and Industrial Buyers

Industrial content marketing is facing a big challenge because manufacturers are struggling to make it more engaging for their target audience. They have a good grasp of industrial content marketing’s contributions at the top of funnel but can’t quite connect the dots when it comes to measuring its effectiveness in driving sales.

Show me the money - Tom Cruise as Jerry MaguireThe problem is not just a matter of better analytics and/or in-depth ROI reports from Marketing Automation. These marketing tools are a big help but can’t completely close the gap. The decision makers at these industrial companies want to know how industrial content marketing will increase their sales before they invest the money. In other words, they are saying, “Show me the money.”

Challenges with industrial content marketing exist across different industries and varying company sizes. Consider these key findings from the sixth annual content marketing survey, 2016 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs:

  • 81% of manufacturers in North America are using content marketing
  • 87% said Sales was their number one goal
  • 18% said they were effective (That is not a typo! Effectiveness was defined as “accomplishing your overall objectives” in the survey)
  • 82% of manufacturing marketers cited creating more engaging content as their top priority

There is a big disconnect here between industrial content marketing and its impact on sales.

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