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.

Read more

Industrial Lead Generation for Sales – It’s Complicated!

Industrial lead generation and sales, it's complicatedIndustrial lead generation is the lifeline for manufacturers, distributors and engineering companies when it comes to accelerating their pipelines and growing sales. However, turning new leads into sales is not straightforward or simple. Just like the hit movie, it’s complicated!

There are many reasons for the failure of industrial lead generation to convert into wins in long and complex sales cycles. Before I go into those, let me give you three real-life examples of conversations that I have had with industrial companies.

Example #1: The Head of Business Development for a manufacturer of compressed air dehydrators said to me, “My sales team can tell if a lead is qualified or not within five minutes of talking to someone.”

The problem was that his sales team wasn’t receiving enough of those calls and they were having a hard time getting in front of the right decisionmakers to make that qualifying decision. Sales were down as a result and they needed to fill their pipeline with more leads.

Example #2: The North American Sales Manager of an engineering company that designed custom-engineered skid-mounted modular process systems for the upstream Oil & Gas industry said, “We don’t talk to leads until we receive an RFQ/RFP.”

He didn’t want to sell on price because the company’s strength was in providing engineered solutions. Unfortunately, it was too late for his team to start talking about their expertise because the buyer had already reached the final stage of his/her buying decision. S/he wanted all vendors to conform to a given set of specifications so it was easier to do an apples to apples comparison of bids based on price and lead-time.

Example #3: The President/Owner of a Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) services company that primarily targeted refineries and petrochemical companies, emailed me to say, “I want to meet the right people and if necessary, jump on a plane to go anywhere, but I don’t know who to meet.”

This client had tried email blasts to rented lists and telemarketing companies to set appointments. Neither of those tactics produced results for him. He was desperate for new leads.

Read more

Making Email the Foundation of Industrial Content Marketing

You may think email marketing is dead or passé with all the talk about social media. However, that is far from the reality that I see every day, working with manufacturers and engineering companies, especially when it comes to industrial content marketing.

Engineers and industrial professionals do read emails, provided you’ve earned their trust with valuable content and can get through their spam filters. According to the research report “How Engineers Find Information 2018” published by engineering.com, 95% of engineers will consider an email in their inbox.

You can read about this in my earlier post, Industrial Email Marketing for Engaging Engineers and Technical Professionals.

Email should be an important component of industrial content marketing

Given the above findings, it makes a lot of sense in making email marketing a key component of your overall industrial content marketing strategy. My opinion is corroborated by independent research findings.

Read more

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.

Read more

Industrial Website Redesign for Marketing to Engineers

An industrial website redesign for manufacturers, system integrators and distributors that market to engineers, requires a different approach because marketing to engineers is different. This becomes a challenge if the outside web development company or your in-house marketing department doesn’t have a clear understanding of marketing to engineers and industrial professionals.

A website redesign that doesn’t match your sales process is doomed to fail. Marketing shouldn’t attempt doing a site redevelopment all on their own. You must get Sales and other key stakeholders involved from the very beginning of the redesign. Get their input while planning the site map, the architecture, the content, calls to action and the overall strategy. In other words, thoroughly vet the What, Who and the Why before you start designing the site.

Read more

Industrial Content Marketing: Product Centric vs. Customer Centric Content

Product centric vs customer centric industrial content marketing

Recently, I had an interesting conversation about industrial content marketing with the President and the Marketing Manager of a manufacturing company. They design and make engineered systems used in the Metalworking and the Pulp & Paper industries.

Our conversation happened in the early stages (Thank God!) of developing a content marketing strategy. This company has been in business for over 20 years and had done plenty of conventional outbound marketing over the years. They contacted me to help them effectively use industrial content marketing to generate qualified inbound leads and convert them into sales opportunities.

Read more

Industrial Content Marketing — Goals are Misunderstood and Misaligned

Industrial content marketing is used by an overwhelming majority of manufacturers. It stands at 85% according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 survey. According to ENGINEERING.COM’s 2017 survey, 87% of engineering marketers use content marketing.

The CMI survey also reported that that 80% of manufacturing marketers rated themselves as “Not At All Successful” to “Moderately Successful” with content marketing.

Success with industrial content marketing

Dissatisfaction with industrial content marketing

C-suite executives at large industrial companies and owners of smaller family-owned manufacturing and engineering companies have plenty to be unhappy about with their lack of success with industrial content marketing. The big reason – MONEY! (or the money spent on content marketing).

Read more

Technology is Not a Substitute for Good Industrial Content

Some of the people I talk to about industrial content marketing seem to be hung up on adding more technology to solve their lead generation problems. The thinking behind it is that technology will cover up the many holes in their strategy, content and help speed up the process. This mindset is not surprising since the top person at many of these manufacturing and industrial companies is an engineer. That is not a dig at engineers, I’m an engineer myself!

Once while discussing an industrial website redesign project, the owner/founder of a manufacturer of valve actuators told me, “I can program anything.” I had to politely bring to his attention that “coding isn’t marketing.”

The rush to add marketing technology

It is not that technology is new to them. Many of these industrial companies already use sophisticated technology such as ERP and CRM systems to run their businesses. So, adding marketing technology is a natural solution for them when pipelines run dry and sales teams are screaming for more leads.

Read more

Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends and Challenges

For the past four years, I have downloaded and read research reports on Manufacturing Content Marketing in North America published by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). I believe 2014 was the first year that CMI published its annual Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report specifically for B2B manufacturing content marketing.

I’ve noticed some interesting trends emerge over the years. In this post, I’ll compare some of the key findings from these research reports. Whether you are a manufacturer, a distributor or an engineering company, there are good takeaways for all industrial content marketers.

Read more

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.

Read more

Effective Industrial Content Marketing Requires Working Closely with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

Industrial content marketing needs the help of SMEs

If you are responsible for industrial content marketing at your company, you know it is a challenge and can be a daunting task to engage with engineers and technical buyers. It is not too difficult to prove effectiveness with top of the funnel results such as increased traffic, page views, content downloads and newsletter signups.

However, most manufacturers and other industrial companies are not going to be satisfied with that. They want and expect their industrial content marketing strategy to engage with engineers and persuade them to start a conversation with their sales team.

Industrial companies that I talk to on a daily basis, find it challenging to market to engineers. Their biggest hurdle is the lack of response from their target audience. These companies are at a loss and want a better way to market since their target audience is primarily engineers from various disciplines. And therein lies the challenge.

Read more

Content Marketing Strategy Must Drive Your Industrial Website Redesign

Jeffrey Zweldman on content and web designAn industrial website redesign shouldn’t be a quick decision because your site is the very foundation of your online presence. Why is it such an important decision?

According to the Industrial Buy Cycle survey of engineers and technical professionals conducted by IHS Engineering 360 (formally GlobalSpec), “The top three most frequently used sources for searching for products and services to purchase are search engines, supplier websites, and online catalogs.

The survey also found that in the early stages of the Buy Cycle, Needs Awareness and Research phases, industrial professionals use a variety of online sources of information.

By the time buyers reach the final Procurement stage, supplier websites and online catalogs become the most important sources of information. Take a look at this chart from IHS Engineering 360’s Buy Cycle survey.

Read more

Industrial Content Marketing: Awareness to Conversion Takes Time and Hard Work

Industrial content marketing success for most manufacturers and other industrial companies is usually measured  by an increase in the number of RFQs/RFPs. Arguments about quality vs. quantity tend to fall on deaf ears because these companies with long sales cycles need a certain volume of quotes to keep their pipelines full and active.

Often, their stated goal for content marketing is “We want to increase awareness among engineers and industrial buyers and generate new contacts.” You’ve probably heard the same or something similar if you are part of an in-house marketing department or an outside industrial marketing consultant like me.

On the surface, it looks like a well-defined marketing goal but if you look closely, you’ll see that it takes many interim steps between raising awareness and converting traffic into qualified leads. It is this lack of understanding of what it takes to go from point A to point B that causes owners and decision makers at these industrial companies to get frustrated from the lack of quick results and shocked by the price tag.

Growing pains in industrial content marketing

According to Engineering360’s online survey addressing the marketing trends, challenges and expenditures within the engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial companies, thirty-nine percent were just getting started with content marketing and only 12 percent can show how content marketing contributes to sales.

Read more

Industrial Content Marketing Fails to Engage with Target Audience

Industrial content marketing used by manufacturers, distributors and engineering companies is failing to engage the target audience – engineers, technical professionals and industrial buyers. This is not a new problem.

Back in 2014, Forrester had published their research report titled B2B Content Fails The Customer Engagement Test. Here’s a statement from their brief – “Nowhere is the struggle to produce compelling business-to-business (B2B) content more evident than on corporate websites: When 26 out of 30 fail to pass even a basic 10-criteria test, it’s time for chief marketing officers (CMOs) to seriously rethink their content marketing plans for 2015.”

Fast forward to 2016 and industrial companies are still struggling with the same problem. The challenges that manufacturing marketers face are very similar to those experienced by all B2B marketers. 65% of manufacturing marketers said producing engaging content is their biggest challenge (Source: 2016 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/ MarketingProfs).

Read more

How Industrial Content Marketing Increases Awareness and Creates True Differentiation

Industrial content marketing can be very effective in solving two common problems that many manufacturers and distributors face. They are:

  1. Lack of awareness about them among engineers and industrial buyers
  2. Inability to differentiate themselves from the competition

Given the fact that today’s industrial buyers prefer to do their own research and rely more on a variety of digital tools, it is critical for these industrial companies to address these two problems because they have a negative impact on their sales. The second problem is more acute among distributors because more often than not, their website content is mainly copy and pasted text from their principal manufacturer’s site.

Industrial content marketing usage and effectiveness

Needless to say, these industrial companies are eager for marketing solutions. They are aware of industrial content marketing and want to implement it, but I’m not sure they understand its full impact and are struggling to use it effectively to meet their goals. I say that based on my daily conversations with manufacturers and distributors from various industries.

That is not just my opinion, take a look at these two charts from 2016 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends Report from the Content Marketing Institute.

Read more

Industrial Content Marketing Boosts Sales for Distributors

industrial content marketing attracts customersMy conversations with distributors about industrial content marketing almost always start with them needing help in growing their sales. That should come as no surprise.

The real problem however lies in the definition of the problem itself. Most distributors define their problem as “lack of sales.” The solution therefore must be this new-fangled thing called “industrial content marketing” since traditional tactics like cold calling, e-mail blasts and print ads are no longer producing satisfactory results.

So with that mindset, they want to dive right into creating content. The assumption is that the more content they publish, the easier it will be for their target audience to find them in search engines and once they arrive at their site, visitors will be ready to talk to their sales team. (See How Industrial Companies are Stuck on SEO for Content Marketing Strategy).

I wish it were that easy. Conversion optimization is a completely different challenge from discovery optimization even though they are related.

Read more

Industrial Content Marketing’s Role in Sales

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.

Industrial content marketing effectiveness - CMI

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.” 

Read more

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

Marketing Matters Newsletters

Marketing Matters is our monthly newsletter which is usually emailed during the last week of the month.

Wait, before you leave!

Get the latest articles on industrial marketing delivered to your inbox every month. Join thousands of your peers from around the globe and stay informed.