In 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?
Your TOFU content needs to focus on issues and challenges faced by your visitors before they can be convinced that your products (solutions) are right for them. An industrial blog is a perfect fit for this purpose. I wrote about it in my last post, Purpose Driven Industrial Blogging.
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One TOFU content marketing strategy that has proven to be very successful for my industrial clients is to publish blog posts about application notes. These blog posts provide good SEO value for very specific long tail key phrases and drive traffic to a landing page with a simple lead capture form to download the full white paper/application note.
The landing page must highlight additional values that the subscriber will receive in order to persuade him/her to give up their contact information. Implementing an email-marketing program or Marketing Automation to nurture and qualify these leads is the key to successful content marketing. See “Lead Nurturing Is Not A Marketing Option, It’s A Sales Necessity”
However, things begin to get a bit murky for some manufacturers and industrial companies. Their products and components must first be “designed in” before they can get to the RFQ/RFP stage. What’s unique about these companies is that their industrial marketing must address the needs of both a specifier and a functional buyer. Content needs for these two stakeholders are very different and one-size-fits-all content won’t cut it.
Specifiers are usually Design Engineers and their primary need is to make sure your industrial part or component will meet their design needs. So TOFU content for this audience has to serve a different purpose. Let me give you a few examples to illustrate this point.
- Downloadable CAD Files in various formats (According to one study, “77% of the time, when an engineer downloads a part from a configurator that part ultimately gets purchased for the final assembly.”). See “How Manufacturers Use 3D CAD Models and 2D CAD Drawings as Sales Enablers”
- Parametric Part Number/ Builder applications that help design engineers find the exact part by entering different design parameters
- Online Real-time Design Tools that allow engineers various inputs and create their design online (See Texas Instruments and Igus sites for great examples of these)
- Engineering/Design Kits are very popular in the electronic components industry. These kits generate new business opportunities and lead to more design wins
- Test Beds and Prototypes are very effective for manufacturers that need to collect real-world data and customer experiences using an industrial product in their own working environment. Such feedback helps to refine design, meet industry standards and apply for certifications. This tactic is very similar to trial offers from software companies except these tests tend to go on for longer periods and can be costly to produce
- Engineering Templates that make it easy to plug in product specifications and can be easily imported into an RFQ/RFP
- Mobile Apps and Calculators have become increasingly popular in many industries and are very useful for generating new leads and online orders from industrial professionals who are out in the field and not sitting in front of their computers at work all day
These TOFU content assets address the specific needs of Design Engineers and are very effective for the top of the funnel. The irony is that they really need to be more product-centric.
Most manufacturers and industrial companies face long sales cycles that can stretch from a few weeks to months. It is vital for them to have a full and active pipeline of leads. It all starts with good marketing content for TOFU.
What kind of industrial content has been successful for you at the top of the funnel?