CEO Chimney Group
The industrial manufacturing industry is facing challenging times. According to the IMF, output is expected to increase only by 3.4 percent in 2017 after a few disappointing years . How can manufacturers use content marketing to improve the top line during these uncertain times?
Well – that does not seem to be very clear to the majority of them. According to research published this year by the Content Marketing Institute, 85% of B2B marketers in the manufacturing industry claim they use content marketing but 59% say that they got no or negative benefit from it. 
It’s all about the business!
Only 41% of manufacturing marketers think that their content marketing strategy should take into account business goals and only 31% of manufacturing companies say that they have a documented content marketing strategy … This is one of the most staggering statistics I have encountered lately. If it’s not about business – what is it about?! Clearly no one has told them that today’s buyers are two-thirds through their buying experience online before even contacting a vendor.
Content marketing should be just about the business—the content pyramid sets the goals – Building Brand on the top, owning topics through editorial and inspirational material in the middle and Lead Generation through value-based product material at the bottom. All optimised for search and interaction. It’s no that difficult and it can and should be measured in monetary terms. Content marketing IS a business approach – not a communications approach.
Without the business connection, engineering companies end up producing “something fun or interesting”, hoping that the experience is going to be short, painless and ideally cheap – ticking boxes for management wanting to show they are also modern and daring. All while nervously waiting to get back to the safety and comfort of their well-known trade shows and industry publications and frustrated on the trend to do content and lack of results thereof.
GE and Siemens do it
Clearly some of the most successful engineering companies worldwide take a different view. I am quite impressed, for example, by General Electric. The company has more views on its Youtube channel than many of the TV channels they helped build a century ago. They use YT in a very structured and business-focused way – building the brand, talking about their business areas in an engaging way and showcasing the value of their solutions to searching clients.
I am also impressed by the relentless work of Siemens and Caterpillar who produce more content per year than the majority of B2C advertisers. Clearly, they see this content as a business-driving investment as the volumes just increase – we are talking not far from thousand outputs per year.
Who is right – the silent frustrated majority or the champions of the industry? We have seen clear evidence that well-planned and applied content marketing creates huge value for manufacturers – from brand building to immediate lead generation and business.
We have laid out a summary of the main success factors to achieve your business objectives through content to always keep in mind while laying out your very first content strategy.
How to get there
Be relevant for the clients—let them find you!
Only 57% of B2B manufacturing marketers consider SEO an important metric. One of my biggest mantras (those who read my previous article on the professional services industry will know) is that B2B buyers are people. In B2B purchasing, clients are on average at 57% of the customer journey when they first make contact with a company, and that customer journey has occurred behind a screen. Using SEO with the right type of content, such as video, is great for top-funnel communication on digital channels.
Focus your message
Budgets are not growing but the amount of messages is. There is a temptation to ram all messages on brand, product, values etc into the piece of content. This becomes long, unfocused and without a clear call to action.
Avoid the temptation—produce things with a clear purpose—shorter, crisper and to the point. Make them smarter to be able to do more – use own stock footage, own audio and motion components and be street smart. Don’t compromise on the clear purpose of each piece.
Especially when operating on many markets, with many divisions, each with distinct target audiences the need for content will quickly multiply due to different languages, targeting and formats for each platform. The solution is to have a clear strategy, use smart production, adapt the content and use versioning.
Drive the customer journey on each platform
Customers have different questions during different stages of their buying process, especially when dealing with complex engineering products that require a high investment. It is important to use different platforms not only to address different types of audiences, but also tailoring messages to address the relevant information type. On digital channels, no question can be left unanswered. Platforms are not only about audience but also about the message. The right message on the right platform
In a highly competitive world of industrial manufacturing applying content marketing in the right way might just be the way of sticking out—just ask GE.