Oftentimes when we engage with companies in the B2B vertical, especially those within a niche industry, we hear that content marketing isn’t something that they see the value in. Manufacturers will say that their business lacks ideas for captivating content and the complex nature of the field just isn’t a good fit for a solid digital strategy.
However, by developing your strategy properly, you’ll find that content marketing for manufacturers is both attainable and profitable. Regardless of your industry, the opportunities to build brand awareness, generate qualified leads, and gain the trust of your audiences through content marketing are endless.
Why is Content Marketing Necessary for Manufacturers?
Before diving into the ‘how’, it’s important to understand the ‘why’. They Ask, You Answer Author, Marcus Sheridan writes that content marketing is “simply the act of teaching and problem-solving so as to earn buyer trust.” With an inbound approach to content, you can capture the attention of your ideal audiences online and provide solutions that address your customer’s pain points. To put it bluntly: it’s about them and not you.
Manufacturers are quick to think in terms of products and features, rather than being focused on thoughtful solutions and growth-driven results. The goal instead, is to offer more of a helpful approach that positions your business as a trusted, industry leader. You can do this by providing educational content that is quick to teach, rather than sell. Think about it: if your potential customer can easily identify what your manufacturing business is providing and how you plan to solve their problems, then they are most likely one step closer to making a buying decision. If manufacturing customers are looking for deeper insights and more customized content, then the proper response is to find ways to captivate their attention with engaging pieces that delight - and ultimately, convert.
To craft a successful B2B content marketing strategy, you’ll need to plan, create, and optimize. Let’s break it down into three steps.
Start With Why - We’ve covered the ‘why’ of content marketing, but now it’s your turn to identify the ‘why’ for your manufacturing company. Here are a few example questions to help you brainstorm: Why does your business exist? Why should your customers care about what you do? Why are you different than your competitors? Why do you bring value to the manufacturing industry? The answer to these questions will be the driving force for the rest of your initiatives. You need content that addresses customer pain points and provides a unique value proposition to set your business apart.
Identify The Who - In order to craft content that is valuable, it is crucial that you understand and define your audience. Consider creating buyer personas to help you target prospects and customers on a deeper level. HubSpot defines buyer personas as “fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.” The success of your content strategy hinges on the fact that you are marketing to the right people. The process of defining a manufacturing persona might require a little bit of digging and tweaking, but the end result will be well worth your time.
Identify your personas by writing out their personality traits, buying habits and behaviors, job roles and responsibilities, customer pain points, and how they search for answers online. To take it a step further, provide insights to the types of customers that you’re already attracting, any common purchasing objectives they may have, and the ultimate reason they are seeking out your manufacturing company. The patterns and habits of your personas learned during this discovery process should lay the foundation for every piece of content that you create internally from here on out. It will most likely take some regular finessing to get these stereotypical buyers correct, but the result will be the ability to craft personalized, effective, and impactful content that speaks directly to your audiences.
Setting SMART Goals -We’ve got the ‘who’ and the ‘why’ nailed down, so you may be thinking, “Okay, great! I’m ready to get started creating new pieces of targeted content.” We love the enthusiasm - but, not so fast! Without goals in place, how will you know that your efforts are paying off? Goals give us direction and focus, and provide a benchmark by which we can measure our success. If you’re familiar with inbound marketing, then you’re probably accustomed to the mentality of creating SMART Goals. If not, here’s a brief explanation of the acronym.
- S - Set Specific Goals
- M - Set Measurable Goals
- A - Set Attainable Goals
- R - Set Relevant Goals
- T - Set Timely/Time-Bound Goals
Smart manufacturing marketing strategies will include SMART goals. The SMART framework helps you to create and achieve goals that are carefully planned, clearly defined, and trackable. Use this formula before jumping into the content creation process, to ensure that you stay on the right track.
Creating effective content for your industrial leads is the next step towards a wildly successful marketing plan. To recap what we’ve learned so far, we want to prioritize the needs of our audience over a promotional or sales-focused message. Manufacturers should provide their leads with valuable marketing pieces that help promote the ability to make informed decisions based on their needs. Perhaps you have content on your site right now that does answer the questions of your buyers and shares valuable information that can be reworked. Let’s start there.
Quick Wins - Optimize your existing content into web pages, blog posts, email campaigns, case studies or even social media posts. Informational PDFs or embedded Word documents on your website may have great information, but it’s most likely not helping you at all because Google cannot see or read that content - which means, neither can your audiences. We recommend using a process called ROPS, which stands for Rework, Optimize, Publish, and Share. Instead of focusing only on creating new digital content, make your current pieces work smarter for you. There is immense value in your existing marketing assets if optimized correctly. Ensure that your web pages house content that informs, educates, and appropriately links the customer to where they need to go next in their journey.
Effective Types of Content Marketing for Manufacturers - There’s plenty of ways for manufacturers to tap into the various types of content marketing. Thinking that your industry is too niche for captivating pieces, just isn’t true. Here’s a few of the deliverables that we’ve found work best for those in B2B verticals.
- Website Pages (Product pages, service pages, industry pages, location and service area pages)
- Blog or Resource Section
- Case Studies
- Social Media
Content for the Manufacturing Buyer’s Journey - As you know, your personas will follow a specific path through the buyer’s journey to move from awareness, consideration, and ultimately to a decision phase. We want to prioritize delivering the right content to the right audience(s) at the right time. A successful content marketing strategy seeks to reach industrial leads at all stages of this process.
For the users in the awareness phase, consider crafting blog posts, an eBook, or providing general industry specific news and insights. Frequently update your manufacturing company’s blog with thoughtful content that matters most to your target audience. Consideration phase buyers could benefit from product comparison guides or case studies to move them further through the sales funnel. For example, a great case study proving that your B2B business knows how to solve a customer pain would be a valuable piece in this stage. Finally, for a user that is ready to make a decision, offer product videos or brochures, specification sheets, or a pricing calculator just to name a few ideas. The options truly are endless.
B2B content marketing shouldn't be a guessing game. Take the time to regularly analyze, monitor, and measure your efforts through the use of key performance indicators and SMART goals. Assessing these metrics will help you make informed decisions about your next move as a manufacturing marketer. Is your blog post performing like you thought it would? Why or why not? How can you learn from this data set to change your strategy for the next quarter? Remember, your data represents actual users that are or are not engaging with your site. The customers that you’re attracting to your website to consume your content will tell a story by their activities and patterns online. Are you listening?
According to a study done by Demand Metric, content marketing can generate approximately 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing efforts. Creating content that converts is a necessary and tangible way for companies in the manufacturing industry to be successful and grow to become a trusted voice in their space. The most important thing you can do after reading this blog is to get started. Doing so will allow you to separate yourself from your competitors, increase your search engine visibility, and create valuable pieces of content to help solve your audience’s problems at all stages of the buyer’s journey.
Inbound Marketing Agency for Manufacturers
Done correctly, a sound manufacturing content marketing strategy will reap immense benefits for your business, most importantly, driving the right traffic and converting qualified leads from your website to maximize your ROI. To quote Marcus Sheridan once more, “If you’re not resolving their concerns and answering their questions online, they’re moving on to someone else who is.” To find out how to partner with growth-focused, digital marketing experts who understand your industry, contact us here to get started.