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Content Marketing for Industrial Distributors

Content marketing is proving to be a big challenge for industrial distributors that I have talked to. The problem stems from the fact that distributors have relied heavily in the past on their principal manufacturers to provide them with marketing content and collateral. Weaning themselves from that reliance and becoming publishers of original content is not only a challenge but they just don’t have the necessary resources for content marketing.

The second part of the problem is that these companies are sales driven and marketing has never been a major part of their sales process. Sales people cold calling, setting appointments for face to face meetings and building relationships are how they have always generated new leads and increased sales. Distributors have realized that industrial buyers are no longer engaging with their sales people like they used to. They recognize the fact that they need to support their sales team with better industrial marketing with content.

Industrial distributors don’t want to become publishers of content; they want to sell more of their products. I accept that reality, the challenge lies is delivering quantifiable ROI from content marketing. (See my post, “Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher, Act Like an Investor”)

Using content marketing for organic or natural SEO to drive qualified traffic for top of the funnel (ToFU) activities is a large part of the solution. However, it is only half the equation. Your content needs to engage with visitors, persuade them to take action now rather than later and convert them into sales qualified leads. This conversion process is far more challenging.

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How to Create Successful Industrial Marketing Content for TOFU

Sales funnel for industrial marketingIn case you aren’t familiar with the content marketing acronym TOFU, let me define it for you. TOFU stands for top of the funnel and relates to content that attracts qualified visitors to your industrial website or blog.

Creating effective marketing content for TOFU is proving to be a challenge for many manufacturers. That’s because these industrial companies have plenty of product datasheets, user guides and other product-centric marketing collateral but very little content that is customer-centric. Why is this important?

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Content Can Differentiate Industrial Companies When There’s Parity in Value Propositions

A Value Proposition plays an important role in differentiation, which in turn affects lead generation. Yet, if you read the content on most industrial websites, they tend to sound similar within each industry. Most manufacturers and industrial companies make generic claims that are often copied by their competition and lack validation.

How do you rise above the noise when there is so much parity in Value Propositions?

There are experts who are more qualified than I am in crafting a Value Proposition that is so unique to a company that it cannot be easily duplicated by others. However, my clients look to me for answers for overcoming their lead generation challenges using my knowledge and experience in industrial marketing.

One strategy that has consistently produced good results for my industrial clients is using the power of industrial content marketing. You’ve probably heard that before so what’s different about what I’ve just said?

Let me answer that by giving you some specifics:

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Use Content Marketing to Manage Industrial Sales Funnels

B2B and industrial marketers are usually tasked with two main responsibilities:

  1. Fill the top of the sales funnel (ToFU) with high quality leads
  2. Maximize the middle of the funnel (MoFU) for converting more leads into sales opportunities

Achieving those two objectives are difficult enough, now add to that the constant pressure of having to lower the cost per lead at the same time. That’s why more B2B and industrial marketers are turning to content marketing to lift their lead generation ROI.

Several studies have shown that these lead generation challenges hold true across the board in B2B marketing. According to the recent MarketingSherpa’s B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey (June 2011) of more than 1,700 B2B marketers:

52% of the companies reported, “Converting qualified leads into paying customers” (MoFU) as their biggest challenge. This was followed by Lead Generation (ToFU) at 48% and Lead Nurturing (MoFU) at 40% (See chart).

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