Marketing content is a big deal, according to a recent research report from The Manufacturer and Intergage. How big? 80% of respondents to the survey, who are manufacturing marketers like you, said they would invest mostly in content marketing over the next 12 months.
That means your competitors are doing it. Which means you should be doing it, too.
Yet, almost half (48%) of manufacturing marketers report their organization has a small (or one-person) marketing/content marketing team serving the entire organization.* If you’re one of those marketers, you’re probably struggling to get it all done (and you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog).
So, if your boss says “we need content” and you’ve got 47 other things on your plate, and no idea where start, here are some tips that might help.
Idea and topic generation
For some people, this is the hardest part. Traditional manufacturing marketing is rooted in creating materials your sales people will use to sell products. But the tide is turning and manufacturing marketers are working to position their products and services as problem solvers that make their customers’ lives easier, rather than just another piece of equipment.
This means tremendous opportunities for creating content that’s useful to your audience. That’s a key point to remember—your content has to be useful. Otherwise it’s just another thing taking up space on the world wide web that may never be read. How do you make it useful? Easy. Make it about your customer, not you. Try these ideas on for size:
You know those websites that carry different brands of the same item who let you compare them against each other? Those are really helpful, right? You could build some sort of tool on your site that does that (which would be cool, but would take a lot of resources). Or you could develop a simple comparison sheet that a prospect can scan and easily see the positive differentiator your product brings. You could develop a whole series of them, depending on your product offerings.
Burning Questions Answered
In the manufacturing world, your sales and customer support teams are constantly being bombarded with questions about one thing or another, right? Those questions are gold in the content creation game. Every one of them offers you an opportunity to write a blog or make a video that answers that question, because if one person had it, others most certainly will too.
Tell a Story
You’re in business because of the things you deliver to your customers every day. Why not write a story about one of those people or organizations? Like, how you solved a recurring problem they were having with a piece of equipment. Or how you delivered a part faster than anyone else could, which significantly reduced their downtime. Or how your engineers designed a solution for a problem that was keeping them up at night. Customers love to talk about their successes, so interview them and get some quotes and this content will write itself.
Speaking of your engineers and other behind-the-scenes people, consider interviewing some of them. Find out about their thinking behind something they developed and write a story about that. Include thoughts from the R&D team and anyone else who was involved. They were ultimately trying to solve some sort of problem, and customers with similar problems may be interested in their approach.
Offer tips for (fill in the blank)
You know the business of your customers and you’ve got a unique perspective. Take one particular subject that’s meaningful to your customer and create an in-depth piece of content that offers tips/clues/suggestions/ideas that might be helpful (if that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s exactly what this blog is doing).
Piggy back on someone else’s content
The internet is full of studies, articles, and opinion pieces about things that matter to you and your customers—especially industry and trade organization websites. Find something that might be of interest to your audience and express your POV or elaborate on their ideas. You don’t have to create everything from scratch.
Conduct your own research
You could kill two birds with one stone here. Create a survey and send it to your customers. It could be short and sweet, or deeply comprehensive. Either way, you’ll get good information that you can use to improve your products or relationships, and you can also share the results as a piece of content. As an extra bonus, it shows your customers you’re thinking about them and you care about the experiences they have with your brand. Survey Monkey is still the best tool out there for surveys IMO.
Once you’ve got your topic nailed down, you can present it in one of many formats. Or more than one, if you’re feeling ambitious (i.e. write a blog and create an infographic that could stand alone on a social media channel). Here are some format ideas to consider:
- Comparison chart
- Tip sheet
- Landing page
Now comes the fun part: promoting your fresh new content for everyone to see. You’re obviously going to include it on your website, with an option for downloading and sharing, right? Here are some other ideas for making sure it gets in front of the right people:
75% of manufacturing marketers say they use organic (nonpaid) social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter) for content marketing purposes, so you should be doing it too.*
Trade and industry websites
Many of these sites have options for placing content. They’re not free, but they’re worth it if they’re putting your content in front of your audience, and it means something because it’s coming from a credible source in your industry.
Send it out to everyone you know and everyone you want to know (you might need to find an opt-in list for this, but they’re out there). If it’s useful, they will want to read it.
Send it off to organizations that might want to include it in their content. They’re more likely to post it if you mention them, so keep that in mind.
Again, not free. But placing hyper-targeted display ads to tease the useful topic of your content is a great way to create top-of-funnel awareness. Our clients have had success using Resonate, who does the audience research and places the ads in front of the right people.
Yes, this is still a thing, and may become more of a thing as people return to the office. So don’t rule it out. In fact, it could make quite an impact with all the new AR/VR technology that allows for embedding codes into printed pieces to make them digitally interactive.
Get out there and talk about it at conferences and tradeshows. And make sure to record it so you can share it on other channels.
A word about SEO
Your main purpose for creating content should be to help your audience by providing useful information. But good content can also be a boon to your SEO if you thoughtfully weave in keywords that you want to rank for. Keep in mind that, even though you want search engines to pick up your content, it’s people that will ultimately be reading it. Keyword stuffing is obnoxious and nobody wants to read it.
Help for the weary
And finally, if this all seems like way too much to take on, you can always hire someone to help. Agencies like ours have access to extremely talented writers and designers who focus on creating meaningful, useful content for specific audiences.
The content you create says something about who are as a company. Whether you take it on yourself or work with outside vendors, you can’t lose if you’re keeping your customers at the forefront of your mind when developing it.
*Content Management Institute’s latest manufacturing content marketing report