Manufacturing Content Marketing Can Be Confusing and Difficult

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I regularly receive email inquiries from industrial companies needing help with their manufacturing content marketing. These people are on the right track for wanting to use manufacturing content marketing for generating better quality leads that turn into sales opportunities.

64% of manufacturing content marketers say their organization’s content marketing is much/somewhat more successful compared with one year ago. (Source: 2019 Manufacturing Content Marketing Report).

Success rate of manufacturing content marketing

Goals and objectives of manufacturing content marketing

Success in the above chart is defined as achieving their stated goals and objectives. These go well beyond just counting the number of leads generated.



Goals of manufacturing content marketing

Challenges remain in using manufacturing content marketing effectively

The findings from the report are certainly encouraging, but manufacturers face quite a few challenges in using content marketing effectively. I say that based on my actual conversations with owners, business development professionals and even a few in-house marketing people from manufacturers and engineering companies.

That’s not just my opinion, the CMI survey found similar challenges. Here’s one of their key findings:

“Manufacturers face long sales cycles full of multiple decision makers, and our survey confirmed that creating content for multi-level roles is a top challenge for respondents (68%).”

In my experience, the two biggest challenges faced by manufacturers are:

  1. Lack of understanding who their target audience is (Buyer personas vs industries)
  2. Lack of understanding of the work-related challenges faced by their audience( Product-centric vs customer-centric)

“51% of respondents said they always/frequently prioritize their sales/promotional message over the audience’s informational needs while creating content for content marketing purposes.” (Source: CMI report)

I’ve come across too many companies wanting to jump right into content creation instead of first spending the time to develop a fully vetted and documented content marketing strategy . Meaning, very little thought is given to developing buyer personas, purpose, calls to action, distribution and promotion.

Don’t get me wrong, product datasheets and specifications are very useful in industrial sales, but they alone can’t differentiate your company when there is parity in value propositions.

Please understand that there is a big difference between content creation and content marketing.

Let me give you an example to demonstrate what I’m talking about.

A To-Do list is not an industrial content marketing strategy

A manufacturer of specialty coating materials approached me to do their content marketing. They had created an elaborate Excel spreadsheet with topics and dates and wanted me to create the content for them. This was a long conversation that is best summarized in a Q & A format with me asking the questions.

Q: How did you develop your list of topics?
A: We think our customers would be interested in what we have to offer (product-centric topics).

Q: Who are you targeting with your content?
A: Our potential and existing customers.

Q: Who are they?
A: Huh, what do you mean? We know our industries well.

Q: Who or what job functions do people in your target audience perform?
A: We only talk to owners.

Q: Have you ever considered that there may be various stakeholders involved in the decision before you can get to the owners?
A: (Silence)



Q: Do you know what challenges your customers are facing that you can solve?
A: Our products are excellent, and they sell themselves. We offer exceptional customer service.

Me: (Silently) Then why do you need my help with industrial content marketing?

You know how the rest of the conversation went.

Key takeaway – Don’t create content until you know your audience well (buyer personas, challenges and their roles in the buying decision).

Leads from free content downloads are great for top of the funnel activities, but manufacturing content marketing must take you deeper into the funnel. Think in terms of content as sales enablers. See my post, Industrial Content Marketing for Engineers to Make a Buy Decision.

I hope the real-life example from my experience, as well as all the independent research findings will convince you that you need to put in a lot of thought into really getting ready for manufacturing content marketing.

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