I understand you may have more than three Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about manufacturing content marketing. This post will focus on the three questions that my manufacturing clients ask me most often.
To validate my own experiences, I’ll refer to research findings from the report Manufacturing Content Marketing Insights for 2021 published by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).
How will manufacturing content marketing improve our sales process?
This is a broad question and really gets to the heart of the matter—Why bother doing manufacturing content marketing in the first place. Traditionally, most manufacturers have considered marketing as only sales support. It is difficult for them to reset their mindset that today we need a more hybrid approach where Sales and Marketing need to work together towards a common goal of growing sales and increasing revenues.
This change has been forced upon them by the change in the behavior of industrial buyers. They prefer to remain anonymous for a larger portion of their buying journey and only interact with your sales team when they are ready.
I have talked to manufacturers who think of manufacturing content marketing as the new way of doing organic SEO. The logic goes something like this, Get found in Google > Get visitors to the site > They’ll contact your sales team after the first visit.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. There’s a big difference between discovery optimization (SEO) and conversion optimization (CRO), even though they are related. You are not using the full power of manufacturing content marketing if that’s your narrow understanding.
Manufacturing content marketing needs to play a more active role in setting the table for Sales. It must achieve many goals for it to generate more qualified leads successfully. Here are the goals achieved by manufacturers in the past 12 months, according to the CMI report.
Why haven’t we seen any results from all the content we’ve created?
How long it takes to produce measurable results with manufacturing content marketing is a significant area of concern and frustration. The problem as I see it is that decision-makers in manufacturing companies tend to think of this industrial marketing strategy as a campaign that they are accustomed to from the past.
My answer to this question is always the same, “Industrial content marketing is a process and not a one-off campaign.” Let me expand on that a little bit to provide some clarity. It can take anywhere from 6 to 9 months, depending on the competition and the state of your own marketing. I’m upfront with my clients in telling them that it is not a quick fix for slow sales. I recommend that they consider other options if they are not prepared to invest the time and money to do content marketing correctly over the long haul. I have mentioned this fact in a few of my earlier posts too.
I also make them aware that they should expect and will see interim results such as more traffic to the site, top-of-the-funnel leads, fixing technical issues that may negatively impact engagement, and improving on-page SEO.
Manufacturers have become better at content marketing over the years. However, many had to adjust their messaging and content because of the pandemic. Here are three key findings and a chart from the CMI report.
- 39% of respondents said that their companies were in the sophisticated/mature phase of content marketing maturity as compared to 29% last year
- 70% of manufacturing marketers surveyed changed their targeting/messaging strategy in response to the pandemic
- 69% of manufacturing marketers surveyed think the pandemic will have a significant or moderate long-term impact on their organization’s overall content marketing success
How can we do content marketing when we have limited bandwidth?
The time crunch is a constant one for manufacturers because marketing is not their primary job. Their Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are busy doing what they do best and don’t have time to create content.
You are not alone if you feel that way if that’s any consolation. More than half the manufacturers have small teams serving the entire company and they may also be handling other marketing responsibilities.
It shouldn’t surprise you that 61% of manufacturing marketers indicated that they outsourced at least one content marketing activity. Content creation is the activity outsourced most often.
There’s another problem manufacturers must deal with because of the technical nature of their business and the target audience of engineers and industrial professionals—Finding the right partner.
One thing to keep in mind is that content creation is not the same as content marketing. It is not just a matter of copywriting and or clever wordsmithing. There are many more aspects, such as a deep understanding of how engineers and industrial buyers make work-related decisions, interviewing SMEs to extract the key talking points, converting those bullet points into cohesive content that is technically accurate and presented logically, knowledge of SEO, and content distribution.
I have published articles on each of those aspects of manufacturing content marketing. Search this blog, and you should be able to find those posts.