How Manufacturers Can Leverage Content Marketing
Are you one of the 18% of manufacturers not currently using content marketing? If you’re not one of the 82% who have a content strategy in place, is it because you don’t believe it’ll be effective? That’s common in manufacturing, and in fact 28% of those manufacturers with a content strategy don’t even believe it’s effective.
With such a big adoption rate, it makes you wonder why on earth only a small section of those companies think they are doing content marketing right.
Content is the foundation of marketing. It’s how you reach your audience, it’s how prospects find you, and it is through content that you can craft a unique brand identity and build a following. A content strategy is used by businesses of all sizes, industries, and marketing sophistication because it is unequivocally invaluable to the success of your business.
What can good (i.e relevant and consistent) content do for you?
- Increase organic search traffic
- Drive more conversions and high quality sales leads
- Share valuable analytics and reporting on buyer patterns
- Set your company apart with consistent brand messaging
- Add value to your message through tailored emails and calls-to-action
It’s easy to get caught up in the traditional mold of manufacturers. For a family-owned, medium-sized B2B manufacturer, the culture has typically been sales-focused, where the true value of marketing is lost in the warehouse. Once you break free of that thinking, you’ll realize that all manufacturers have a product to sell, a mission to follow, sales goals to reach, and simply put – a story to tell. These are all the makings for a great content marketing strategy.
Manufacturers are businesses that make, market, and sell industrial goods. Your content marketing strategy should be designed around the value of those goods so it drives the most relevant and high quality traffic to your business (online or physical location). Content marketing for manufacturers is not meant to replace sales, but to help them be more productive and increase win rates. If you sell widgets, your content needs to be better than a simple dictionary-style definition like, “Here is what a widget does.” Anyone who searches for that is likely considered product agnostic, as they are in the research stage not the buying stage. Generic content like this also leaves no impression on a visitor. It literally tells them nothing about your company and why you are better than your competition.
Your content needs to revolve around a business case, speaking specifically to your audience’s pains and processes. Once they identify with you, you can build that relationship and trust level with them through content. So when they see a whitepaper or blog post, “How You Will Achieve X Results By Using Our Widgets,” they end up downloading the piece and (hopefully) buying from you.
Whether you have a content marketing strategy in place or not, here are some tips on how to be successful with your manufacturing content marketing strategy.
Your content marketing strategy should be shaped by your organization goals, or at least serve as a baseline for what you want to achieve. In a study done last year by the Content Marketing Institute, the top 5 organizational goals for manufacturers are:
- Brand Awareness
- Lead Generation
- Customer Retention/LoyaltySource: 2015 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends – North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs
Once you have your end goal, it will be easier to decide on what kind of content you should create for your audience, where it should be distributed, and how you will measure the results.
Identify Your Target Audience:
It seems quite basic but a lot of companies don’t document the most important piece of a marketing plan – your target customer. That persona, down to the very miniscule details of gender and role, is gold to a content writer. Knowing everything about your ideal buyer makes it that much easier to get into their heads and learn their style. This is where you can take targeting to another level and really appeal to your audience. It doesn’t work that way when you are writing to a generic person with no differentiating traits.
Develop Smart Content:
The key to a successful content strategy is producing consistent and relevant content. Why? Because valuable content targeted at your ideal customer is what actually sticks. In order to create more engaging, high quality content, you need to know your audience, but you also need something equivalently important – keyword research to back you up! As a copywriter it’s always a struggle to balance what sounds good with what people are actually searching for. But at the end of the day, the purpose of you writing this content is to drive more traffic and convert – so you really need to know what your audience is typing into Google search. It also helps to know what kind of content your audience actually reads. Take a look at what the industry stats say:
Distribute with a Purpose:
Organic traffic and search engines are going to be a huge piece of your content strategy, but you can’t let that be your only distribution avenue. Whether your goal is brand awareness or sales, your content marketing strategy is about promoting your company message and building a reputation. Through press releases, content syndication, guest blogging, events, ad placement, social media, local community groups, and anything else that is relevant to your business, you extend the lifecycle of all of your content. One of the main challenges a content marketer faces is creating a piece of content without a purpose. Instead, they write something spectacular, expect search engines to do the work, and then backtrack with a promotional plan that now needs to fit the piece of content – instead of the audience. Sounds confusing but take my word for it – getting in to the habit of having a consistent plan will make your life a whole lot easier and you’ll get way better results.
Define the Right Metrics:
Measuring content marketing ROI is the biggest challenge faced by manufacturing marketers and general B2B marketers alike. Most manufacturers use these metrics to define their success: website traffic, sales, sales lead quality, conversion rates, SEO ranking, customer feedback, subscriber growth and inbound links.
And last but not least –
Document Your Content Marketing Strategy!
Bringing strangers through the buying cycle with your content strategy is the end goal. If you document the process one year, than you have something to compare it to the following year. Most content marketing strategies take some trial and error to perfect – so start with something and move on if it doesn’t work out.
Rand Group has a team of digital marketing professionals with a background in helping manufacturers transform their online presence from brochure to lead generation. We can help you strategize for the best possible content marketing strategy. Contact the Marketing Team today.
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