You’ve probably read all the buzz surrounding industrial content marketing. You are in good company if you are already doing it. The Content Marketing Institute found that 81% of business-to-business (B2B) manufacturers in North America said that their organizations were using content marketing (Source: 2016 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America).
Here’s a reality check—only 18% of those manufacturing marketers reported that their content marketing was effective in accomplishing their overall marketing objectives. That, by the way is lower than the 26% in 2015 and 30% in 2014. So the effectiveness has been trending down over the past three years.
Fear not though, in another survey done by ENGINEERING.com (Engineering Marketers’ 2016 Campaign Plans Research Report) there was very good news. Here’s what they said based on the responses from their audience – “Content marketing has become so powerful in the marketing industry that only 3% of marketers say they are going to reduce their spending in this category. That’s even more amazing when you see that 27% (10% + 17%) said that it isn’t really working. The buzz around this concept is so powerful that if it doesn’t work, marketers blame themselves. In fact, they are 3X more likely to increase their budget if it isn’t working than they are to decrease their budget.”
How industrial content marketing enables sales
My take is that industrial content marketing does work and it definitely helps sales. My opinion is based on my first-hand experience working with manufacturers, distributors and engineering companies.
Let’s go beyond the usual challenges of creating more engaging content, budgets and skills. There are two common complaints about content marketing that I hear from manufacturers and engineering companies.
- It is impossible for them to generate sales qualified leads (SQLs) without first having a conversation with the lead.
- They don’t want to wait for their audience to find their content, they want to reach out to people and companies they already know. (Industrial companies usually deal with a small pool of known prospects that are a good fit for their products and services).
In my previous post, I wrote about how manufacturing content marketing sets the table for sales. Let me expand on that idea to show you how that actually happens.
- Visibility: 53% of engineers and industrial buyers spend six or more hours per week on the Internet to find components, equipment, services and suppliers (77%); obtain product specifications (73%); find product availability information (70%); perform research (67%); and compare products across suppliers (66%). Digital marketing with content aligns perfectly with how your target audience finds information. (Source: IHS Engineering360 Research Report)
- Capability: Just publishing more content is not going to help you rise above the noise. The key is to identify and understand the challenges your customers are facing. Create content written by your in-house Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to address these issues. This will get your knowledge and expertise to the forefront and set you apart from the competition (See Content Can Differentiate Industrial Companies When There’s Parity in Value Propositions)
- Credibility: Engineers are impressed by credentials, standards and professional certifications. Provide them the confidence to specify your industrial products because they meet their design parameters and/or to retain your engineering services.
- Reliability: This goes beyond product warranties. Industrial professionals want reliable sources of technical content, not more marketing fluff. End-users and field people want easy and quick access to your knowledgebase. These people may not have much influence on the initial buy but can make or break your repeat orders.
- Expandability: Increase the impact of your trade show investments by providing additional helpful content. Trade shows continue to be effective in industrial marketing as multiple research studies have shown. You know those visitors to your booth are going to check out your website when they get back to their office. Make sure the content builds on the initial impression about your company.
- Viability: Product specifications and online design tools are valuable content assets because they save time for Design Engineers. They help them make quick decisions on the viability and suitability of your products and services.
You build stronger relationships based on trust when your content marketing can accomplish the above objectives. Trust is the key in motivating visitors to initiate conversations with your sales team. These conversations lead to conversions and sales opportunities because they are far more productive instead of posturing. (See How Industrial Content Marketing Builds Stronger Relationships Based on Trust)
Trust reduces the resistance that people naturally have when they receive a sales call. They are more receptive to listening to what your sales people have to say instead of brushing them off as is typical in a cold call.
I don’t want to create a false impression that it is easy and quick to produce results. It is not. Also, this kind of expertise doesn’t come cheap whether you hire full-time staff or outsource it to an industrial marketing company.
It should be clear by now how content marketing is not just a popular industrial marketing strategy but it plays an active and key role in driving industrial sales.
Research reports on engineering and manufacturing content marketing
You can download the full reports I’ve mentioned in this post from these links.
- 2016 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America
- Engineering Marketers’ 2016 Campaign Plans Research Report
- IHS Engineering360 Research Report