Industrial Marketers Planning for 2022 – Part 1

Many industrial marketers are deep into planning for 2022. If you haven’t started yet, now is the time, and we’ve got resources to help you.

By beginning your planning process now, you can gather evidence to justify your expected expenditures, receive executive endorsement for your budget, and be ready to launch when the calendar changes. Companies getting an early start on their marketing plan can get a jump on competitors and be better positioned to win business going into the new year.

This two-part series (Part 2 is coming in December) will help you create an effective marketing plan for 2022 that will fit your budget and capabilities, align your market and customer trends, and help achieve your marketing goals.

Part 1 focuses on evaluating your current program and understanding the industrial marketing trends that will affect your strategy for 2022. Part 2 will offer tips to help you develop the optimal marketing plan.

Assess the performance of your current plan

How are your current marketing programs performing? The complimentary GlobalSpec “2022 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit” offers a number of tools to help you measure the performance of your marketing. The kit includes a chart to plot the engagement and branding capabilities of your current programs and to identify gaps, a grid to compare the quality of your leads to your ideal customer profile, and a matrix to help you analyze the effectiveness of your expenditures across various media channels.

Access your complimentary copy of the “2022 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit” here.

The foundation of any performance assessment of your current marketing is the ability to measure marketing results. Measurability is just one of many reasons why industrial marketers are increasing their use of digital media, along with the engineering audience’s preference to seek information through digital channels.

Digital marketing programs offer the inherent advantage of measurement through page views, clicks, downloads, shares, conversions, and other trackable metrics. If your current channel mix is not mostly digital, then you should consider allocating more budget towards online in 2022.

Account for all channels

Keep in mind when evaluating current programs that your customers typically have multiple interactions with your company and content before they make a final purchasing decision. They might meet you at a trade show, visit your website, click on an e-newsletter advertisement, watch a video, and attend a webinar all as part of their buying journey.

Each of these marketing touches contributes to the eventual sale—not just the first action they took to connect with you or last action they took before making a purchase decision. Be sure to track all of these activities to properly evaluate marketing performance.

Five trends that can influence your plan

Before you begin to plan 2022 marketing programs and choose channels, you should familiarize yourself with industrial marketing trends that will influence your decisions. These include:

  1. Digital assets dominate, and the events of 2020-21 have created an even greater reliance on it. Our recommendation to you: go all in on digital. According to McKinsey & Company, more than 70 percent of B2B buyers and decision makers prefer digital or remote interactions with vendors. In 2022, make sure your website is easy to navigate and packed with fresh content, your webinars are engaging, your display ads capture attention (try adding video snippets), and your emails are targeted and compelling.
  2. Around half of all content on the web is consumed through mobile devices. Having a responsive website that renders content in an easy-to-consume format on mobile devices is no longer a luxury item for marketers. It is a requirement. According to the website management company SWEOR, it takes less than a second for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not, whether they’ll stay or leave. The company also reported nearly 8 in 10 customers would stop engaging with content that doesn’t display well on their device.
  3. Industry research firm Demand Gen Report found that B2B buyers rely more than ever on content to educate themselves. Expect this trend to continue. Top content formats B2B buyers have engaged with during their buying experience include video, white papers, blogs, webinars, case studies, and research reports. But in the early stages of purchasing research, buyers rely more on shorter, quick-hitting content types. Specifically mentioned were listicles, infographics, blogs, and video. Make sure these shorter, visual content types are part of your content portfolio.
  4. If you’re not already using marketing automation, do your homework for 2022. Marketing automation can improve lead scoring, personalization, targeting, segmentation, campaign management, and tracking of metrics. That’s a significant list of benefits. You can save time and staff resources using marketing automation, and you don’t have to break your budget to get started. There are a range of low-cost marketing automation solutions on the market, for small companies and large, and most of them are easy to learn and get up and running.
  • Manufacturing marketers use multiple digital channels to connect with their target audience and generate engagement opportunities. The channels need to work together as part of an integrated, holistic approach to marketing. One recommendation we can make is to consult with one of GlobalSpec Media Solutions’ marketing experts. We can help you design a multichannel marketing program for 2022 to reach the right audience at every point in the buy cycle including newsletter advertising, display ads, searchable catalogs, and more. Contact us today.

Study your company’s 2022 business plan

If your company is planning to introduce new products, expand to new markets or customer segments, or launch other strategic initiatives in 2022, you will need to build your marketing plan and create content to account for these initiatives.

Meet with executives to learn about the timing of new plans. You should also meet with sales leaders to understand revenue growth objectives. This will not only give you information you need to create your marketing plan, it will demonstrate that you are proactive about developing a plan that supports your company’s goals and objectives.

2022 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit

GlobalSpec created the 2022 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit to help you develop an effective marketing plan that targets your audience of engineering and technical professionals. Add this valuable resource to your 2022 planning efforts today. Click here to download.

Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Marketing, General Product Marketing

How to Overcome Three Common Content Marketing Challenges

Research from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) states that 55 percent of content marketers rate their organization’s overall level of content marketing success in the past 12 months as moderately successful, with 29 percent saying they have been very or extremely successful.

Despite those successes, content marketers still grapple with a number of challenges. Here are three of the most common challenges and tips for overcoming them.

Finding Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

During the pandemic, a lot of people left their current organization to pursue other opportunities; leaving many companies short on SMEs, or Subject Matter Experts. Research shows that when people walk out the door, a lot of expertise and institutional knowledge goes with them if there are not rigorous processes in place to preserve, protect, and pass on technical knowledge.

Even if you do have in-house SMEs, finding someone with both technical expertise and good writing skills is no easy task. In addition, some of your more seasoned SMEs likely have full plates, and would not look with favor on a request to write a blog post or technical article to support your marketing efforts.

One way to get around this challenge is to not ask your SMEs to do the heavy writing for you. You can ask them to jot down thoughts on a subject, or list bullet points on a topic, or simply to have an interview-type conversation with you, and then use a writer to turn the source material into compelling content.

Another approach is to seek outside SMEs. CMI’s research shows that half of companies outsource at least one content marketing activity. The top challenge for B2B marketers who outsource is finding partners with adequate topical expertise.

Look on social media, such as LinkedIn, for professionals who post about topics relevant to your company. Reach out to ask if they could produce a bylined article or other content for your company. They’re in the brand-building business as well and may be inclined to help. If they can’t, maybe they can recommend someone else that would be a good fit.

You could also reach out to presenters at industry webinars or conferences, or contact experts who write for industry trade journals. Additionally, you can post on an industry or professional association a notice you are seeking SMEs.

Creating Content for Different Roles

Another challenge is creating content for multi-level roles within your target audience. It’s tempting and easier, yet ultimately ineffective, to produce “one-size-fits-all” content. If your content is not targeted to your audience’s information needs, they will ignore you. They may also ignore your brand.

Whether you create separate content for different audience roles, or address them separately within the same content piece, you can segment your audience and their needs into three types of buyers: analytical, economic, and technical.

Analytic buyers want to know they will be able to solve a problem using your products or technology. You’ll need to answer questions such as: What functions does the product perform? What are its specifications? Why is your product better than another product? Or: How does your service meet my needs?

Economic buyers want to know the financial impact in terms of return on investment for purchasing your products and services. The benefits to economic buyers might be measured in terms of expected time savings, increased efficiency, uptime, product lifespan, reliability, warranties, opportunity cost, or other factors.

The technical buyer is often behind the scenes and may not come into play early in the buy cycle. They are concerned with the bigger picture of whether your product, component or service will fit into the larger technical infrastructure, environment, or policies at their company. For example: Are your products compatible with other products the customer uses? Do your products integrate well or will modifications elsewhere be necessary? How is support provided? These questions are particularly relevant with software and hardware purchases, but also for other industrial products.

Differentiating from Your Competition

Seventy-eight percent of the most successful content marketers differentiate their content from the competition, while only 23 percent of the least successful ones do. If you can differentiate, you can stand out.

What’s required is that you zero on your unique advantages. A solid mission statement can be your source. It can help you focus on what’s unique and special about your company.

It might come down to being better, faster, or cheaper than your competition (rarely all three). But stay away from unsubstantiated claims of being the leading, the best, the first, or the most customer-focused—unless those are true advantages and you can back them up with evidence.

If so, play to those strengths in all of your content. If your differentiator is service, support, or warranty, make sure you promote those attributes in your content. If you update your products more often than your competitors do, get that message into your content.

Any company would be fortunate to be known for one differentiating factor that appeals to their customers. Find out what yours is and keep hammering away at it.

Content Marketing Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Marketing, General

A Simple Approach to Prioritizing Marketing Investments

Most industrial marketers are busy prioritizing their marketing investments for 2022. If you’re behind in getting started, it’s not that difficult to catch up when you follow this four-step process:

  1. Measure your marketing results in 2021 to date
  2. Use ROI evidence to plan for 2022
  3. Account for special conditions
  4. Prepare to justify your budget requests

1. Measure Your Marketing Results in 2021 to Date

Every company has its own way of measuring ROI. There’s no one correct way to do it. Some companies use a formula that track sales in relation to marketing expenditures or leads that become customers. Other companies account for a prospect’s every marketing touch throughout their buying journey. Some calculate ROI for each individual program.

However you track ROI, you should try to avoid a common measuring mishap: Attributing a sale solely to the first or last marketing touch.

The first marketing touch brings the prospect into your universe and the last marketing touch precedes the sale. However, a prospect likely interacts with your company, content, and campaigns in multiple ways before making a purchase decision.

If you can’t measure how every marketing touch contributes to a sale, at least measure the popularity of your programs. Clicks, page views, ad impressions, downloads, comments, shares, email opens—these are all ways to measure engagement with your marketing and the popularity and value of your content. This will give you some sense of how well these programs perform and contribute to ROI.

2. Use ROI Evidence to Plan for 2022

If a program is performing well for you in 2021, chances are it will continue to deliver benefits as long as your audience hasn’t changed, and market conditions aren’t dramatically different.

For example, if you had good results from advertising in a newsletter, make this program a priority again. You will likely want to refresh your creative and possibly look for similar newsletters that can reach your target audience.

Programs that have been disappointing in 2021 may need to be scrapped, or you may want to do more research first. Did you give the program enough time to gain traction? Are you confident you measured its results accurately? Did you reach the right target audience, but your message didn’t resonate?

It’s in this step that you lay out your 2022 priorities based on this past year’s results. Once that’s done you massage those priorities.

3. Account for Special Conditions

Here’s where your priorities might get rearranged a bit. If your company is recalibrating its business goals, then marketing priorities will change as well.

Perhaps you have a significant product launch coming in 2022. Your company might be planning to enter a new market or leave an underperforming one. If a merger or acquisition is in the cards, it would certainly affect marketing priorities.

By accounting for business goals and special conditions, you can not only come up with a better marketing plan, but you can also demonstrate to executives who must approve your budget that you have your finger on the pulse of your company’s goals and the market situation.

4. Prepare to Justify the Marketing Budget

To justify your marketing budget, you must be able to project the results of your marketing programs. The best indicator of future ROI is past performance. Any changes you’ve made should be defended based on revised business goals, better audience targeting, or better marketing channels fit for your objectives.

It’s also helpful to propose three different budgets, demonstrating you understand that uncertainty always exists, and markets are always fluid. 

  • Best-case scenario—if business is robust, what is your best-case budget and how will you allocate it to achieve your marketing goals?
  • Worst-case scenario—if the economy drags or markets suffer, what are the bare-bones marketing priorities that you must continue to fund? Such as your company website or your email campaigns.
  • Realistic scenario—Chances are neither the best nor worse cases will come to be. Prioritize your marketing investments for 2022 around the most likely situation, and you’ll still be ready to make changes as needed because you’ve already modeled different scenarios.

When planning for 2022, you want to make sure you cover all of your bases. Download our 2022 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit for the perfect guide to crafting a marketing plan that best targets your audience and grows your business

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Measurement Marketing ROI Marketing Strategy Thought Leadership

Video Content that Engineers Value

The cardinal rule in content marketing is to engage your audience quickly. If you don’t, they will click away. It may seem ruthless, but this is the nature of a fast-paced world and short user attention spans.

That’s why video content can be such an effective marketing tool. Good videos capture attention. They are faster, easier, and cheaper to produce than ever before—even quality videos. Video marketing can add an emotional, personal touch to an otherwise logic-oriented B2B world, making brands stand out as relevant, connected, and genuine companies.

According to HubSpot, the online marketing software firm, 86 percent of businesses use video as a marketing tool, and 87 percent report that video delivers a positive ROI.

Specifically in the industrial sector, 79 percent of manufacturing marketers use video content, according to “Manufacturing Content Marketing,” produced by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, and sponsored by GlobalSpec. In addition, 52 percent of engineers spend an hour or more watching video for work, as reported in “2021 State of Marketing to Engineers,” from TREW Marketing and GlobalSpec.

Video performs so well because it’s an engaging and concise way for viewers to consume content. The question isn’t whether video should be a component of your marketing portfolio, it’s what kind of videos you should produce and what channels are best for distributing them.

Think Educational

Like other forms of content marketing, videos should primarily be educational rather than salesy in nature. Engineers hate to be sold to and can sniff a sales pitch a mile away.

Use video to demonstrate thought leadership, expertise, and an understanding of your customers’ needs. Focus on these types of videos:

  • How-to videos. Examples include how to incorporate a technical process into workflow, solve a problem, or use a product. Eighty-four percent of engineers say that how-to videos are valuable to them (2021 State of Marketing to Engineers).
  • Product demos. Use visual media to demonstrate the top features and benefits of your product. Eighty-nine percent of engineers find product demo videos valuable (2021 State of Marketing to Engineers).
  • Case studies. A customer success is a compelling story. Most case study videos describe the business, set up the business problem, and talk about the solution along with benefits and quantifiable results.
  • Executive interviews. Perfect for demonstrating thought leadership in your industry and positioning your company as forward-thinking experts. Helps your audience forge a connection with your company.
  • Data presentation. Create a video showcasing results of a survey or trends in your industry.
  • Video blogs. Take one of your high-performing blog posts and repurpose it into a mini-documentary with interviews, images, and sound.  
  • Roundups. How about a monthly video that provides a high-level summary of news or trends in your industry? You can give your audience a wealth of valuable information in just a few minutes.
  • Day in the life. This type of video might follow one or more of your employees around to show viewers the ins and outs of your company. It not only puts a human face on your company, but can serve as a great recruiting tool in a time when the competition is fierce for attracting high-quality employees.

Marketing Channels for Video

Thanks to technology advances and the near-ubiquity of broadband, you can use almost any marketing channel for video:

  • Videos can be a part of or the entirety of a social media post.
  • Put demos and how-to videos on relevant pages on your website.
  • Show video clips during webinars and other presentations.
  • Use a video snippet as an advertisement in sponsored industry e-newsletter.
  • Promote a video in a display advertisement, enticing viewers to learn something new and important.
  • Add videos to your supplier page on GlobalSpec and other industry sites.

Keep Track

Like any other marketing content, keep track of metrics to see how well your videos perform on each marketing channel. Key metrics for video include number of views and length of view. If you find that users are dropping off at a certain point in the video, you know you’ve lost their attention and will need to make some changes.

Now get your cameras ready. And: action!

Content Marketing Digital Media Video

Three Ways to Make Your Webinar Content Rise Above the Competition

Engineers have always found value in webinars as a way to learn and engage with suppliers. The value of webinars has only increased since the start of the pandemic, but even as in-person events begin to return, webinars have maintained their position of strength.

Webinars are one of the top ways engineers maintain and advance their professional skills, and 83 percent of engineers state that webinars are valuable when researching information to make a product or services purchase decision (GlobalSpec State of the Union: Webinars in the Industrial Space).

Of course, all suppliers and manufacturers know that webinars are valuable to their audience. Most are hosting webinars for their target audience. Therefore, you have intense competition to get your audience’s attention and deliver value to engineers. The key to rising above is having compelling content.

1. Show Don’t Sell

There’s an old adage for writers that says “Show don’t tell.” Apply this saying to webinars for engineers and it becomes “Show don’t sell.” Engineers hate being sold to and they can sniff out a sales pitch like a hunting dog sniffs out prey.

Sure, engineers know you’re not hosting webinars just to pass the time and that your ultimate goal is to gain customers, but don’t insult your audience by selling hard. A reasonable guideline might be 80 percent educational content, 20 percent your promotional message.

What do you need to do instead of selling? Offer relevant, educational information that engineers value. Show them how to do something, how another company achieves success, a new approach to solving a pressing problem, or what’s new or cutting edge in your industry. 

According to webinar hosting company BrightTALK, winning content types for webinars include best practices, case studies, and industry trends and predictions. What best practice can you educate your audience on? What solution case study in your library is compelling? What does your company uniquely know or offer in your industry that engineers will find valuable? These are areas to focus your webinars on.

2. Give Engineers What They Want

You may not realize you have easy access to a trove of webinar content ideas that are exactly what engineers are asking for.

Technical questions that come into your customer support team or pop up on discussion forums can be excellent sources for webinar content. Your sales team fields all kinds of questions from prospects that can be shaped into educational webinar content. Posts and comments on your social media channels reveal what engineers are thinking about and can help spark fresh webinar ideas.

In addition, some of your popular marketing content can be repurposed into a webinar, such as a how-to guide, best practices article, or an industry trends white paper. Your best case study might fit nicely into a problem-solution webinar that will resonate with other engineers.

3. Vary Your Content Type

In the early days, webinars consisted of static slides and talk. These days, technology advances and near-universal broadband availability enables a great variety in webinar content.

Live Q&A with your audience adds interactivity. Chat boxes allow your audience to interact with each other and the webinar hosts. Live polls let you find out valuable information from your audience about their needs, preferences, and tendencies. Including video clips grabs attention and adds visual interest.

These different content types increase the production value of your webinar and can help keep your audience engaged. While it’s true that live interactions aren’t possible for webinars you archive for on-demand viewing after the event, content like poll results, video clips, and the audio transcript of questions and answers can still be included.

Would you like to know more about the state of webinars and discover other best practices for webinar hosting and production? Download our new report: GlobalSpec State of the Union: Webinars in the Industrial Space

Content Marketing Digital Media Marketing Strategy Webinars

Quick Checklist for a Product Launch

One of the most important and stressful responsibilities for a marketing team is supporting a new product launch. Everyone is excited about the upcoming product. Your colleagues and managers are hoping for a big impact. The whole company is looking at their marketing to create a buzz at launch time.

Obviously, the worst possible thing would be to send a product off into the market and hear nothing but crickets in return. The old adage that if you build it they will come is just not true. If you build it, you’ve got to promote it. You’ve got to construct that launch pad by beginning your marketing push early, months ahead of time.

Follow this checklist to give your new product the exciting launch it deserves.

Assemble the team

When we talk about team, we mean everyone you need to interact with in order to successfully launch the product. The list can be long: engineers, developers, subject matter experts, product managers, sales team, customer service, and even customers themselves. Most of them will only play a peripheral role in the product launch, but you must line up your resources and know who to go to for everything you need.

Clarify product positioning

With clear and specific product positioning, all other messaging flows. That means having a detailed positioning statement that describes the target audience, the problem they face, and how your product helps solve that problem. This statement can help guide your team to success.

Especially with the initial launch, you might want to keep the target audience narrow. If not, you should have a positioning statement for each audience segment you plan to market to. If you’re trying to be everything to everybody so as not to miss a single potential customer, you can end up appearing watered down and your messaging becomes vague and uncompelling. Keep the presentation specific to reach the respective customer base.

Write (and keep writing) an FAQ

An FAQ answers all potential questions customers might have about the new product: launch dates, key features and benefits, upgrade and support policies, and more. This is a living document that you can update and revise as you go.

You may need two or even three slightly different FAQs: for customers, channel partners/distributors, and internal. Adding multiple FAQs – or even just more sections to a single FAQ page – can help ensure that your customer has a thorough understanding of what you have to offer.

Solicit endorsements

If your product has a beta program you should arrange to get endorsements and testimonials from early customers. It’s best if you can bake this right into the beta program. You’ll need these quotes to produce press releases and other marketing content.

Tease your audience

Announcement comes prior to the actual launch date. Start putting messages on your website or in your emails letting your audience know that a new product is coming. Create a dedicated page on your site where interested visitors can request more information about the new product. Make sure there is enough detail so you can reach your target audience, but not so much that they have no reason to check back later. Getting all the information at once can potentially overwhelm the customer. Anticipation is a very effective way to create buzz for a product.

Create content

You’ll support the product launch with a variety of content for your defined audiences. Make a list of all content you will use—articles, white papers, data sheets, webinars, videos, blog, and social media posts—determine how each will be used and begin the process of content creation. Create a plan for when to release each piece of content. Do you want to stagger the release of your content? Do you want to put everything out there at once? Decisions like this can create a streamlined campaign.

Meet the press

Prepare a press release announcing your new product and distribute it over the newswire and individually to any editors or reporters you have working relationships with. Ideally, the press release will contain quotes from beta customers as well as from leaders within your own company.

Determine special offers

Working with product managers and your sales team, you can develop any special offers or incentives around purchasing the new product. If you do decide on special offers, work these into your campaign materials. These generally take time to settle on since they involve number crunching and analytics to determine viable offers and pricing discounts.

Create campaigns

Putting together integrated, multi-channel, goal-specific campaigns will be the bulk of your work. This large effort requires careful coordination, the ability to tap various creative and content resources, audience analysis, working with media partners, budgeting, and more. This effort results in less stress for your team overall. A well-planned campaign ensures consistent content across the board.

You might be planning a multi-touch email campaign to your own list and a newsletter/banner advertising campaign to reach a target audience in your industry. You might support those campaigns with content offers such as articles, webinars, or videos. You might create shareable content such as blog posts and social media posts. You need to have landing pages and contact forms tested and ready for action.

By the time the day comes that your company is ready to accept an order for a new product, your launch campaigns should already be out the door. It’s challenging to launch a new product, but if you plan ahead, you can avoid last-minute chaos and increase the likelihood of achieving launch goals.

Demand Generation Marketing Strategy Product Marketing Thought Leadership

Recruiting Engineers? Marketing Can Help

The widespread shortage of technical and engineering skills has been exasperated further by the pandemic. Even though some companies have been forced to downsize due to the pandemic, the demand for engineering talent still far exceeds supply, according to research from Terminal, a company that builds remote engineering teams for its clients.

Likely none of us are too surprised by this. According to the EE Times, over the course of the next two decades, 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 each day. Engineering will represent only a fraction of that number, but retirements will leave a large hole in talent for many companies, and the upcoming talent pool of young engineers is smaller compared to the previous generation.

In other words, the war on hiring engineering talent is coming.

If your company is like many others in their need to recruit engineers into its workforce, marketing can help play a role. Working with human resources or talent acquisition teams, marketing can bring branding, messaging, and channel skills to bear that can help overcome the recruiting challenge.

Fine-Tune Brand Messages

According to research in the 2021 Pulse of Engineering report, the most important career factors for engineers are interesting work/projects, good work/life balance, learning, and respect. Compensation was only the fifth most important factor.

In your recruitment ads, company boilerplate, website, and other messaging platforms, let potential hires know how your company accommodates these career factors that are important to engineers. Even subtle placements help. Quotes from your subject matter experts in press releases or blog posts might mention something about an interesting project or new insights discovered while working at your company.

Help Train the Next Generation

The 2021 Pulse of Engineering also found that engineers often turn to online training courses, webinars, and professional development courses to help increase their knowledge and skills.

Consider offering free online training or paid certificate courses on topics that your company can demonstrate expertise and leadership in. You can also look into hosting and moderating technical discussion or Q&A forums for engineers. Produce webinars on the latest trends in your industry to show that your company is on the forefront of industry change.

Promote the Latest Technology

Engineers are commonly interested in working for companies that are at the leading edge of technology. Top talent won’t want to spend their time using outdated programs, so ensure your tech stack is up to date. If your company uses the latest technology tools and platforms, be sure to promote this aspect as a way to make your company more attractive to engineers.

Offer a Vision

Before accepting a position, engineers want to get a sense of what their career might look like at your company. In your communications, provide a short- and long-term sense of your company’s mission, vision, and core values. But don’t be generic. The engineering workforce is specialized, and your vision should be too.

Align with Today’s Preferences

The research conducted by Terminal reported that 8 out of 10 engineers want options for working remotely. Seventy percent of engineers report they are more productive when working at home.

If your company offers flexible and remote working options and remote-specific benefits such as technology and productivity tools or stipends, you should be able to attract more talent from a much broader pool of candidates located around the world.

In addition, mental health services are in high demand today in every profession. Benefits like access to virtual therapy can help make your company more attractive.

Conduct Targeted Recruitment Advertising

Consider advertising on GlobalSpec for your employer brand promotion and talent acquisition needs. GlobalSpec’s audience consists of the world’s top engineering and technical professionals, which puts us at a unique advantage to help market your employer brand message to the people working in the industries you’re targeting.

Companion Piece

For more tips on attracting engineering talent and preserving and protecting your company’s specialized engineering knowledge, download our new whitepaper, “Hiring the Correct Engineering Talent and Decreasing the Knowledge Drain.”

Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Multichannel Marketing Public Relations

How to Master Short-form Marketing Content

Last month, the Maven wrote a post offering tips for writing and producing long-form marketing content, such as white papers and research reports. This month, we’ll explore short form.

If long form is anything over 1,000 words, then short form is anything less. The majority of marketing content your company produces is likely short form, such as emails, blog posts, infographics, and social media posts.

Short-form content offers a number of benefits for both you and your audience:

  • Due to decreased attention spans on the part of your audience, especially in the digital sphere, short form is less intimidating and more likely to be consumed in full.
  • Short form is easier to see and read on mobile devices. Up to half of all content is accessed on mobile devices.
  • Short-form content is faster and cheaper to produce than long form.

Don’t Mistake Short for Easy

Just because short form is short doesn’t mean it’s easy to create or that you can treat it more casually. Short form is challenging because you have to do a lot with so little, you need to quickly capture your audience’s attention, any tiny mistake is magnified, and you need to be concise and to the point.

As the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal famously wrote: “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” That’s because being brief takes careful crafting and editing.

Here are some tips for mastering short form:

It All Starts with the Headline

News editors know that story headlines must do two things: get the reader’s attention and reveal the main point of the story. It’s true for marketing content as well.

Write headlines that will intrigue your audience and set expectations. For example, the headline to this post—“How to Master Short-from Marketing Content”—should interest marketers tasked with creating short form and also promises “how-to” tips. The headline isn’t fancy or clever; instead, it does the job it’s intended to do.

Follow the Inverted Pyramid Rule

Again, we’ll take advice from the world of journalism. The inverted pyramid rule states that the most important information comes first, followed by secondary information. There’s no need to attempt to build suspense in the reader. They don’t want suspense—they want the main points as quickly as possible.

Stick to a Narrow Topic

If you can’t fully cover your topic in a thousand words or less, then your topic is too broad for short form. If you have to make more than one key claim along with its supporting information, then again, you shouldn’t be using short form.

If you find yourself in this situation you can do one of two things: switch to long form to cover your topic, or segment the topic into smaller units that can be covered in short form.

Edit Carefully

Nothing bashes credibility like grammatical errors or typos in a short piece. They really stick out and your audience will judge you negatively. Ruthlessly cut extra words, but proofread your final product with an eagle eye.

Choose an Appropriate Content Format

Research studies, white papers, and in-depth customer interviews or articles don’t lend themselves to short form. Instead, choose a format that dovetails nicely with short-form writing. Here are some examples:

Listicles—this ever-popular format (“Top 10 Ways To . . .”, “8 Tips for . . .”) offers a quick read and digestible information. Pro Tip: Keep your introductions to listicles to a minimum amount of text, or abandon the introduction altogether. You have to admit that when reading listicles you’ve skipped past the intros to the first item on a list.

Infographics—This combination of text and graphics is especially appealing for presenting and interpreting data.

Checklists—Kind of like listicles, checklists give straightforward information, such as “Must-have Features When Purchasing X.”

Visual + Caption—A single visual element with an extended caption. Take a look through your slide decks. Can you pull anything out that can stand alone with the help of a caption?

Three Questions With . . .—A mini-interview with a customer, partner, or subject matter expert. You’re already telling your audience this will be short and to the point. Variations on this include “Did You Know?” in which you promise an important and relevant fact or piece of information.

Social Media Posts—Get right to the point you want to make and your audience will be appreciative you are respecting their time.

Less Obvious Short-form Content

To really become a master, treat every little thing you write as short-form content. Comments you add on posts from companies or influencers you follow? That’s short-form content. Treat it as carefully as you would your own marketing content. Description tags on web pages? Same thing. Your company descriptions on social media profiles? Make your point, be clear, be helpful to your audience.

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Tips for Mastering Long-Form Content

The vast majority of web content is short: listicles of a few hundred words, Snapchats that disappear, tweets with character limits, web pages with more images than the copy.

And yet, long-form content—typically 1,000 words or more—is extremely important to both industrial marketers and their audience of engineers and technical professionals.

You might be able to grab attention with shorter content, but serious prospects want to dig deeper than a social media post or a list of bullet points. They want to know that you understand and can solve their problem. They want to make sure your company is legit and you know your industry and technology. While it’s true that a smaller percentage of engineers will take the time for a long read into a topic, those that do are more likely to be very qualified.

In addition, search engines love the long-form. It’s not enough to focus on keywords—you have to position yourself as a relevant authority. And most of the time, you can’t make an authoritative case in a short piece. Authoritative content can help marketers achieve higher search engine page rankings.

With long-form content, you can dominate a subject matter in a way that provides value to your audience. You become the expert and thought leader that readers depend on for important information on a key topic.

Choose a Subject Appropriate to Long Form

Not all subjects lend themselves to long form. Some that do include:

  • How-to articles: Go into detail about how to perform a task or solve a problem.
  • Research reports: Compile primary and secondary research into a report on market trends or user preferences.
  • White papers: Provide your audience with a comprehensive education on a topic relevant to them.
  • Solution guides: Compare or classify different approaches to solving a problem.
  • Technical documents: Explain the way a product or process works.
  • Case studies: In-depth case studies lend themselves to longer form.

Stick to a Pattern of Development

When writing long-form, choose a pattern of content development that is proven to work for making technical content easier to understand and retain. Here are several approaches. Choose one that is appropriate for your needs:

  • Step by step. A staple of industrial marketing content is the step-by-step tutorial that demonstrates how to use a product or explains a technical process. You might find that each step along the way has associated benefits. Why not mention the benefit of each step as a way to reinforce your value-propositions while providing educational information?
  • Classification. If you want to present an organized discussion of parallel items, you can classify the information that shares common characteristics. For example, if you are writing about industrial adhesives, you might group those that are made for bonding wood, for bonding metal and bonding plastic.
  • Comparisons. Engineers often must choose among competing products or alternative strategies. You can compare and contrast the key features of different products or approaches. Focus on the most important points. Avoid comparing minor details.
  • Cause and effect. This pattern of development can help persuade readers, for example, why using old products or technology can be detrimental, or to help readers understand the effect of increased water flow on pump performance. In this case, you are describing a situation that has a cause (increased water flow) and an effect (pump performance).
  • Problem-Solution. You can use problem-solution persuasively when you want your readers to agree that the actions you recommend will solve the problems they are trying to overcome.

Tell a Story

Even technical content lends itself to a good story with a beginning, middle, and end. A good story has a hero—such as your customer. The hero faces a problem that is costing money and time, and you step in with the solution to save the day. Corny? Not really. Customer testimonials and case studies are sought after by prospects and are highly effective in helping make technical concepts relatable.

Include an Executive Summary

Be kind to your readers and let them know in a brief executive summary the entire gist of your content. A one-paragraph summary of the piece can help readers quickly glean the main points and decide if investing additional time is appropriate for them.

Design with Your Reader in Mind

Long-form content requires commitment on the part of your reader. You can help them by using short paragraphs, subheadings, white space, bullet points, and imagery to make your long content easy to read and encourage readers to keep going.

Develop a Cornerstone Piece

A cornerstone long-form piece can be segmented into smaller, standalone chunks to use in your content marketing efforts. Repurposing long content into shorter pieces saves time, spreads a consistent message, and meets the needs of engineers who can’t or won’t invest the time required to digest long-form content.

Content Marketing Marketing, General