Industrial content marketing strategy needs adjusting and fine-tuning to adapt to changes during this unprecedented time of COVID-19. Life and business as we know them have changed significantly. Some of these changes are highly likely to be permanent even after the crisis is over (Whenever that will be).
Not surprisingly, some companies will cut back on industrial marketing in response to the pandemic because of the of the dismal business conditions. That’s understandable.
While others will step up their industrial content marketing game and seize the opportunity to position themselves to be stronger than their competition. Am I crazy?
You are probably familiar with the findings from a McGraw-Hill Research study that looked at 600 companies across various industries from 1980 to 1985 and found that those businesses which chose to maintain or raise their level of advertising expenditures during the 1981 and 1982 recession had significantly higher sales after the economy recovered. Specifically, companies that advertised aggressively during the recession had sales 256% higher than those that did not continue to advertise.
Of course, times have changed. You are not going to convince your management to spend more on advertising or invest in new marketing technology in the current economic conditions.
What can you do as an industrial content marketer? In one word—ADAPT.
You don’t need to throw your existing content marketing strategy out of the window, but you’ll need to refine it to adapt to the altered business conditions now and for the foreseeable future.
While your target audience of engineers and industrial buyers may not change drastically, their businesses most certainly have. Your content marketing may not be as effective if you don’t adjust it to meet their current needs.
Example: A distributor of electronic components that sells globally. The pandemic has caused major disruptions throughout the supply chain. How do you manage these disruptions to meet the “just in time” demands of your customers and at the right price?
Your content for digital marketing needs to talk about the changes you have put in place to meet demands from local warehouses to mitigate some of the logistical challenges. Write about drawing on your global network of sources to maintain a critical level of inventory to meet customers’ immediate needs which may be lower than usual since their operations have also been affected.
Smart manufacturing content marketers will take advantage to fill the void left behind by competitors who go silent because of cutbacks.
Create content that will reassure your customers about the operational changes you’ve made to keep customers and your employees safe by following guidelines set forth by local, state and federal agencies. Let them know about the changes you’ve made on the shop floor. Reassurance will go a long way in winning their trust and earning customer loyalty.
Example: A manufacturer of pre-engineered metal buildings and components uses both digital and print media to reassure their customers of minimal disruptions to their supply chain and operations while practicing social distancing on the shop floor. They are working with their customers’ revised project deadlines to ensure timely deliveries.
Earlier in this post, I mentioned that management is probably not going to spend money at this time to invest in new marketing technologies. Why not leverage what you already have and use them to create a more powerful synergy?
I’m talking about combining email marketing with industrial blogging.
I’m suggesting emails because “Fifty-nine percent of respondents (engineers) indicate that they prefer to communicate with vendors over email. Twenty-four percent prefer phone conversations.” (Source: 2020 Smart Marketing for Engineers).
This is a powerful industrial content marketing strategy that I have used successfully with our clients. I have seen many manufacturers who’ve created a new section devoted specifically to COVID-19 preparedness. These are primarily blog posts published frequently.
Create emails that summarize these posts with links back to the blog to read the full article. This will drive visitors to your site. Add some exclusive content or an offer to your emails that only your subscribers can see.
Example: A manufacturer of safety equipment used in turnaround service for refineries and power plants, offers free consulting and evaluation to its email subscribers only along with a discount code for buying products directly from their online store.
Include a call to action with a sign-up form for new visitors who discovered your blog posts via search engines (SEO). This will generate new top of the funnel leads and grow your list organically.
In-person trade shows and large face-to-face conferences are not going to happen for a while. That doesn’t mean you cannot replicate a similar experience virtually.
Webinars are highly effective for educating younger and less experienced engineers stay current on technology. They are looking to their vendors to provide them this training. They probably will have more time to attend these webinars while working from home as versus when they are under deadline pressures while at work.
Similarly, you could develop specific content that your sales team can use during video conferencing or Zoom meetings. These content assets can be used for prospecting as well as providing new content to existing customers.
Here are some free COVID-19 resources for manufacturers and they are from trusted sources.
Yes, these are unprecedented and frankly, scary times. As industrial content marketers we can either adapt and come out stronger or try to survive by doing nothing and hope that it will soon pass. It’s your choice.
Stay safe and healthy!
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Industrial Marketing Today is an integral part of Tiecas, Inc., a Houston-based industrial marketing agency. We’ve been in business since 1987, serving the marketing needs of manufacturers, distributors, and engineering companies from various industries.