Over the past two or three years, many manufacturing businesses made a commitment to a content marketing strategy. Whilst, there is still a small proportion of manufacturing businesses that don’t do any form of content marketing, most recognise that the most effective form of manufacturing marketing, for lead generation and conversion, is content marketing.
This focus on content marketing is driven by a number of factors; with two of the most significant being:
- the diminishing effectiveness of traditional marketing methods and
- the pressures of a more level playing field leading to a need to educate and inform prospects about your company’s offering.
This level playing field has come about because of the pervasive influence of the Internet in all its forms. Websites, news channels, bloggers and social media all contribute towards an environment where you know as much about your competitors business, products and services as they know about yours. Where information is shared amongst your customers and prospects, and where there is simply nowhere to hide from the scrutiny.
These has four major implications for the manufacturing business:
- You have to have a good product – you cannot market a poor product through hype and propaganda any more. Because of the huge increase in information sharing, any flaws or shortcomings will inevitably become exposed. The better you can make your product – the more it fits what the customer needs – the easier it will be to be successful.
- You have to be clear about what your product’s advantages and unique selling points are – you have to establish what it is that makes your offering stand out from the rest. Understanding where your product shines – what situations it is suited for, gives you one half of your content strategy.
- Be clear about who your target market is. You cannot afford to waste valuable marketing resources – time, effort, budget – on non-buyers. You have to zero-in on your most credible prospects, you have to understand what motivates them, their buying process and what issues they face.
- Have a clear focus on delivering the specific content that they need for their initial research, and content that ultimately educates your buyers about those unique selling points that leads them to you.
This last point is the way you can ‘un-level’ the playing field. By educating and informing customers about the solutions they are researching, guiding them through the buying process – in a way that explains what’s on offer, where your product offering sits, and how it is unique – this will let them decide whether it is the best solution for them.
Because buyers are doing the research before coming to your salespeople, because they will know exactly what they are looking for; you cannot sell them something they don’t want or need (and nor should you). But by giving them as much information as possible they can see you as a reliable helpful source, and if your product offering fits their bill – they will approach you directly; pre-qualified and ready to buy.
Be your prospect’s guide in a complex world
Another factor driving the development of a content marketing strategy for manufacturing is the increasing sophistication and complexity of the manufacturing world. The issues that prospects and customers face are getting more complex, as are the possible solutions. This cries out for content – to explain, to guide, to educate.
Modern manufacturing is a fast moving industry with new developments happening at an increasing rate – new techniques, new processes, new capabilities – again all calling for content to keep customers and prospects up to date.
The importance of SEO
Buyers are now researching their needs rather than talking to a salesperson, and they are naturally turning to search engines such as Google as a starting point. This is where and understanding of SEO, and in particular, keywords, is an essential modern skill for the marketer. You can produce the best content in the world, but if it is invisible to search engines, or they consider it spam, or it shows up in the wrong search – than you are wasting your time. Paid for search advertising and social media advertising are other methods that can also be used to increase visibility.
Technological change is also affecting the very media that clients and prospects are using to do their product research, with a wide range of social media and messaging systems appearing and being used over the past decade. The dramatic rise in the use of smartphones and tablets has changed marketing too – today it’s essential to ensure your website can display as well on mobile devices as it can on desktops.
The bottom line is that you have to make useful and helpful content available to prospects at the time they looking for it, on the platform they are using, in a way that it can be found easily.
Create content that reflects the real world
In the near future, the uncertainty that surrounds the global marketplace and the manufacturing industries is something you need to weave into your content strategy. Don’t ignore it – instead, use it. In your content subtly emphasise your stability, the way you are planning for the future and the way you can help your customers survive the current situation. Most importantly, always be positive – you do need to be realistic and not ignore the wider environment – but be positive.
With the rise of automation, robotics and software – create content that shows you are aware of these developments, that you are at the forefront of these and demonstrate the ways that you are using them to your customer’s advantage. Remember that these technologies are very exciting and revolutionary, but all the prospect or customer cares about is how it helps them. So, make sure every article about new development and technology emphasises the value to your customer.
As the manufacturing market becomes more competitive, more hard fought and more complex, concentrating on your product offering, understanding its unique selling points and investing in marketing resources to deliver appropriate, engaging content to the right people at the right time, will be the way forward.