Content marketing is gaining tracking among manufacturing companies that are, in my experience, reluctantly embracing what everyone else knows–everyone researches online before contacting a supplier. Specialized B2B companies–manufacturers, life science companies, medical technology companies–tended to resist this.
“Our customers don’t shop online,” I’ve been told many times. Industrial-type companies believed this because they were thinking of e-commerce and their products and services don’t fall into the “click to buy” category. But the reality is that some 92 percent of buyers of all products research online to explore their options before contacting a company.
This begs the question when someone goes online searching for a solution to a manufacturing problem, what do they find? More specifically, what do they find about your company? If they find promotional material, they will likely ignore it. Searchers aren’t looking to be sold, they are looking for help. If they find good information that helps them confirm that their problem is real, that solutions are available, and that different solutions are right for different organizations, they will feel helped and you will have built trust and credibility.
Content marketing is about engaging people in the online problem-solving process. It’s about publishing educational information that helps people find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. Building trust and credibility gives you an advantage over competitors trying to “sell, sell, sell.”
One manufacturing equipment maker we work with offers a white paper on its website called “Finished Parts in Seconds.” You get the message–they make manufacturing equipment that creates finished parts, meaning little or no rework or post processing is needed after the initial machining–in a matter of seconds. The white paper doesn’t talk so much about the products as it does about how this fast, high-quality machining improves yields and cycle times, which are critical metrics in the manufacturing world. The paper has been downloaded hundreds of times by people looking for manufacturing solutions. Each time it is downloaded, we get the contact information of the person who downloaded it and it goes into the company’s lead nurturing system.
Some 75 percent of web searches are made in the form of questions. People are going to the web for solutions to problems–personal problems like “where is the nearest gas station” and business problems like “how to machine a coronary stent.” Smart companies realize this and have invested in a content marketing strategy to publish articles and blogs that address the questions a potential customer would ask, and then make it easy for that person to request more information.
Content marketing actually works exceptionally well for manufacturing companies and other industrial B2B organizations. It works because the language people use to search is very specific–micro machining for coronary stents is a very specific term. People searching for these types of terms are likely not doing so to entertain themselves and are more likely among your target audience. If they find information that helps them in their search for answers, they will appreciate it and likely ask for more information if your content meets their needs.
The truth is that if a company offers a valuable product or service, people are searching for it online. Getting found, even for very specialized companies, is easier than many think, but it doesn’t happen by accident. Having the right content and calls to action make it much more likely to be successful.