Key Statistics Reveal the State of Content Marketing

Content marketing might be the single most important marketing activity in the industrial sector. Notoriously wary of sales pitches and promotions, engineers and technical professionals seek relevant, educational content to help them make smart, informed buying decisions. They gravitate toward manufacturers and suppliers who can provide this content.

White papers, videos, articles, webinars, case studies, spec sheets—your audience is out there searching for content. Are you connecting with your audience and delivering the content they’re looking for? Could you be doing a better job?

The answers can be found in the results of the recent IEEE GlobalSpec survey, “2019 Trends in Industrial Marketing.”  The online survey addressed the marketing trends, challenges, and expenditures within the engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial communities, including specific questions about content marketing.

The results show the state of content marketing in the industrial sector—what manufacturers are doing well, and what they must do better.

Sixty-one Percent Engage in Content Marketing

A definite majority of industrial marketers are using content marketing in their portfolio of tactics. That’s the positive spin. But given the importance of content to the engineering audience, what are the other 39 percent of manufacturers doing? They’re missing out on one of the most effective marketing strategies. The 61 percent should be a lot closer to 100 percent. Get on board, everyone. It’s the content marketing era.

Thirty-seven Percent Have a Content Marketing Strategy

A content marketing strategy should include your mission and objectives, an audience analysis, key performance indicators, measurement strategies, marketing channels, content types and anything else that will help ensure your content marketing efforts stay on track and produce desired results. You also might add in team members and roles, along with your content publishing schedule. If you’re engaged in content marketing, you should have a documented strategy.

Fifty-two Percent are Increasing Spending on Content Creation and Distribution

Most industrial marketing budgets are flat, but a greater percentage of available budget is being funneled to content marketing. Marketers are realizing the importance of content marketing—and also the resources required. Content marketing will be the second biggest area of emphasis for marketing teams over the next five years, after focus on the customer.

Forty-five Percent Repurpose Content

This percentage should be much higher. Repurposing content to use in other formats across other channels helps to save resources and to maintain consistent messaging. Examples include the article that becomes a blog post, the white paper that becomes a webinar, or the case study that becomes a video. Before you create content, consider all the ways you might repurpose it.

Only Twenty-seven Percent are Satisfied with their Content Marketing Efforts

This leaves plenty of room here for marketers to increase their level of satisfaction with their content marketing efforts. Here are some tips that might help move the needle up: document a content marketing strategy, create a content publishing calendar, repurpose content for other formats and channels, and use marketing automation to help schedule, coordinate and track your content.

Twenty-one Percent Produce Content for All Stages of the Buy Cycle

Producing content for all stages of the buy cycle is a significant undertaking, which may be why the percentage of marketers doing it is so low. It requires that you understand your customers’ information needs at each buy cycle stage, from early needs awareness; to research, consideration and comparison; to purchase decision.

It also requires knowing what stage of the cycle a customer is in, based on their behavior. Finally, you must know your customer well. Creating customer personas, which are fictional descriptions of your different buyer types, can help in that regard.

Now that you know where your colleagues and competitors stand, where do you fit in with other industrial marketers as a content marketer? What can you do better in the second half of the year?

Content Marketing Marketing, General

Achieving Success with Long-Form Marketing Content

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Back in 2015, Microsoft issued a famous report stating that a consumer’s attention span is less than that of the average goldfish. Judging by the content we often see circulating – quick-hitting listicles, 240-character social media posts, Snapchats and Instagram stories that vanish – the report seems to ring true.

But while attention spans may be shrinking, longer form content is making a necessary comeback for B2B marketers. You should embrace this trend for three key reasons:

  1. Google loves long form. Ultimately, Google wants to connect searchers with the most relevant and authoritative information that answers a user’s query. It’s no longer about keywords – it’s all about authority. And most of the time, you can’t make an authoritative case in a short piece. Keyword-rich authoritative content can help marketers achieve higher search engine page rankings.
  2. 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 that you know your industry. So while a small percentage of people will take the time to do a deep read into a topic, those that do are more likely to be very qualified. Serve them well with powerful, deep-dive content.
  3. With long-form content, you can dominate a subject matter in a way that provides value to your audience. You become the expert, the thought leader, and the authority that readers depend on for important information on a key topic.

What Qualifies as Long-Form Content?

There’s no standard definition of what constitutes long form, but a reasonable guideline is that anything over 1,000 words requires engaged effort on the part of the user and would likely provide depth of information. With 85% of web content weighing in at less than 1,000 words, you may think it’s insane to write long form, but don’t try to fit in, stand out. Your audience wants both long form and short form.

Ultimately, there’s no such thing as too long; there’s only too dull. Make your content of interest and value to your reader, and they will stay until they reach the end.

These types of content lend themselves to long form:

  • How-to articles. Go into detail about how to perform a task or solve a problem.
  • Research reports. Compile primary and/or secondary research into a report on market trends, user behavior or other.
  • White papers. Provide your audience with 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. Some case studies lend themselves to long form.
  • .Longer videos with valuable content can also be valuable for engaged users.

Tips for Effective Long Form Content

  • Always think in terms of telling a story with a beginning, middle and end. Introduce your topic, dive into the details, then come to clear conclusion.
  • Write an executive summary. 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.
  • Use design to guide your reader. Use short paragraphs, subheadings, white space, bullet points and imagery to make your long content easy to read and to encourage readers to keep going.
  • Carefully evaluate topics to identify those that work in long form. Don’t try to stretch out a limited subject and don’t try to condense a book-length issue to a few thousand words.
  • Hire freelance writers, editors and proofreaders if you don’t have the time or resources to create long-form content on your own. Most professional writers should be able to grasp and communicate any topic, no matter how dense or technical.
  • Create a cornerstone long-form piece and then segment the information into smaller, standalone chunks to use in your content marketing efforts and to get more value from your investment in the long-form version.

 

 

 

Content Marketing Marketing, General

Why You Need a Documented Content Marketing Strategy – and How to Get it Done

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Let’s start with some good news. The majority (52 percent) of manufacturing marketers are extremely or very committed to content marketing, according to “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019—Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends”.

Most marketers understand that their customers seek relevant, educational information from suppliers. This information helps them do their jobs better and make more confident purchasing decisions. Providing this content to their audience is an essential part of winning business.

However, only 21 percent of manufacturing marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. That percentage needs to trend up, because a written content marketing strategy is often a key indicator of content marketing success.

Those B2B marketers that do have a written content marketing strategy say the top benefits of having a strategy are that it “aligns the team around common mission/goals” and “makes it easier to determine which types of content to develop.”

Those with a documented strategy are also more likely to consider themselves effective at content marketing and able to justify a higher percentage of marketing budget to be spent on content marketing.

Documenting Your Content Marketing Strategy

If you don’t have a documented content marketing strategy, it’s time to get started on writing one. There’s no single template to use, because every company’s needs are unique. It may be helpful to think of your document as a business plan, especially if you need executive buy-in, and you should include the following key components:

Mission Statement

What pain points and/or challenges are you trying to address through content marketing and what do you hope to accomplish? You might be focused on creating brand awareness, building thought leadership, nurturing leads, lead conversion or some combination of these goals. Write down a mission statement to serve as your content marketing guidepost.

Alternatives

If you don’t engage in content marketing, what will happen? What will you lose out on? On the other hand, if you do devote time, effort and resources to content marketing, what are the opportunity costs? What must sacrifice to be successful at content marketing?

You can’t do everything, so your documented strategy should address why content marketing is the best path to follow over other potential plans of marketing action.

Obstacles

What obstacles need to be overcome to achieve success in content marketing? You might want to segment obstacles into two buckets. Separate factors you can control, such as getting executive buy-in, developing content and choosing channels for content distribution from factors that are beyond your control, such as shifting market dynamics and competition.

Resources

Your documented strategy should outline the resources required to achieve your goals. These include people to create and design content, marketers to manage programs, and budgets. Identify who is on the content marketing team and what secondary people are needed to support a successful content marketing strategy (such as IT or website personnel or your media partners).

Audiences

Who are you trying to reach through your content marketing efforts? The best way to clearly identify audiences is to create buyer personas. This includes detailed descriptions of the different customers you have or want to reach that are much more effective that vague definitions that only include title, industry and demographics. Here’s a helpful article on creating buyer personas.

Message Map

A message map is a grid of what you will say, who you will say it to, and when you will say it. This will be the most detailed component of your document.

On one axis of your grid are the stages of your customers’ buying process: needs awareness, research, consideration and comparison, and purchase. The other axis contains your different buyer personas. The fields within the grid include the content delivered to that person at that stage in the buying process.

For example, a design engineer in her research phase might be targeted with a particular white paper in her research stage and a case study and data sheet in her consideration and comparison stage.

A message map offers a quick reference for the types of content you need to produce and how each piece of content will be used in your marketing efforts. The message map will help you design effective campaigns.

Measurement

Your document should include a section on how you will measure the results of your strategy and if you are achieving your goals. Choose metrics that are meaningful to your efforts and strategy. There are many metrics available to you, depending on the content you are using: downloads, views, clicks, comments, shares, conversions, and more.

There are also more sophisticated measurements such as how content marketing contributes to revenue or customer growth. This article, “Five Tips for Measuring Marketing ROI,” can be helpful in creating your documented content marketing strategy.

 

 

 

Content Marketing Marketing, General

9 Quick Tips for Content Marketing with Limited Resources

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9 Quick Tips for Content Marketing with Limited Resources

A survey of Marketing Maven readers this summer reported that the biggest content marketing challenge industrial marketers are facing is a lack of resources – time, budget, and people. And yet, content marketing is nothing short of a mandate, with prospects demanding a steady stream of relevant content to help them make a purchasing decision.

If limited resources are putting a squeeze on your content marketing efforts, check out these nine helpful tips.

1. Optimize Two of Three Resources

Operating under scarcity is the reality. No one has all the time, budget or staff they need. But you might be able to optimize two out of three resources in your content marketing efforts. Decide what to prioritize based on your most important goals. For instance:

  • If you need content fast and at a cheap price, you’ll have to be ready to sacrifice some of the content quality that only staff hours can provide.
  • If you need high-quality content fast, be prepared to spend more.
  • If you need high quality content but have limited staff available, you’ll have to wait longer as other staff matters take precedence.

2. Be Smart about Outsourcing

Fifty-six percent of marketers don’t outsource any of their content production, but this can be a great way to save resources. Outsource your weak spots. If you don’t have the time, passion or expertise for writing, hire a freelance writer, and then allocate your time to providing direction and editing. Work with freelance designers if your own design team is backed up with other commitments. Outsource any content marketing services that you don’t use on a regular basis, but only when the need arises.

3. Repurpose Content Whenever Possible

Repurposing content from one format to another can help you gain significant efficiencies. It’s important when first developing a piece of content to consider all the ways in which you can repurpose it. Turning an article into a white paper or webinar is easier to do when you consider each format’s requirements at the beginning. Retrofitting is a more resource-intensive way to repurpose.

4. Use Free Social Media

LinkedIn, the most popular social media channel in the industrial sector, offers many opportunities to start and participate in discussions. Adding comments to relevant discussions started by others is a form of content marketing: you can educate and inform your audience under your brand name. Also, be sure to add content to your company’s profile page for greater exposure. Do the same on all your social media profiles.

5. Free Up Underperforming Resources

Take a close look at the performance of your marketing programs. Consider moving budget or people away from initiatives that are underperforming and into content marketing efforts.

6. Be Targeted When Paying for Content Promotion

Many industrial companies pay to have their content promoted, which can be a good strategy. Optimize your budget and efforts by working with media partners who can guarantee that your content will be seen by your target audience across a variety of channels.

7. Start an Internship Program

Colleges are teeming with talented, motivated, and intelligent young people who are digital-savvy. Take on an intern who can help with social media, design, writing and other production and distribution aspects of your content marketing strategy.

8. Use Marketing Automation

If at all possible, take advantage of the low-cost marketing automation solutions on the market today. They will help you keep much better track of content marketing campaigns, schedules, content distribution, and tracking. You will gain efficiencies and possibly save money.

9. Catch Up on Fundamentals

“Content Marketing for Industrial Marketers” provides solid advice on how you can get more from your content marketing efforts. It offers solutions to common content marketing challenges and recommendations on how you can benefit from content marketing. Download this complimentary report today.

Content Marketing Marketing Strategy Marketing, General Polls

How Manufacturers Really Feel About Content Marketing

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Content marketing has become an essential and effective marketing tactic for many manufacturers. It fits so perfectly with potential customers’ needs for reliable, relevant information through all phases of the buy cycle.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 86 percent of manufacturers now use content marketing, but only 22 percent would say their organizations are mature or sophisticated in their efforts.

The Marketing Maven also recently conducted a brief, five-question survey of its readers to ask how their organizations are handling content marketing. Here are some of the key findings:

The Success of Content Marketing

On average, manufacturers give themselves a success score of 2.95 out of 5 for their content marketing efforts. That’s not bad, but it’s not great, either.

The majority (64 percent) gave themselves a 3 or a 4. If you’re in this group, it means you’re likely finding some success in your efforts and are seeing positive results. There’s plenty of room for improvement, however, most likely in the “big three” areas of efficient content creation, more precise distribution, and improved tracking.

There’s nothing but improvement awaiting the 30 percent who scored themselves at 1 or 2. If you’re one of these low scorers, you likely need to regroup or accelerate your content marketing. Re-state your goals for content marketing. Get caught up on the latest strategy, tips, and tactics by reading “Content Marketing for Industrial Marketers.”

Types of Content Produced

Emails, videos, articles, and case studies are the top types of content that industrial marketers produce. Newsletters, white papers, and infographics are also popular. When producing content, marketers should try to find efficiencies by repurposing content from one format to another. For example, a how-to video that can also be made into an article.

Outsourcing Content Production

Fifty-six percent of marketers don’t outsource any of their content production. This majority is either incredibly self-reliant or they are taking on too much. Think about all of the heavy lifting involved in content production: generating ideas, writing, layout and design, editing and proofreading, landing pages and conversion forms, and more.

It’s hard to be an expert every step of the way. Plus, although you might think you’re saving money, there’s an opportunity cost involved. A good question to ask is whether outsourcing some production aspects could free up time and resources for other marketing responsibilities.

Paid Content Promotion

The majority of marketers (56 percent) use paid promotion methods with the goal of exposing their content to a larger audience. These methods might include newsletter advertisements, banner ads, and sponsored posts, among others.

The key is to only invest in promotional methods that do an effective job of reaching your specific target audience. When you work with media partners, make sure they have deep knowledge of your audience and how to get their attention. For those who aren’t using paid promotion, if you’re not getting the results or reach you expect from content marketing, you could begin experimenting with paid promotional methods through your media partners.

Greatest Content Marketing Challenge

Forty-one percent said that their greatest content marketing challenge is that they have too few resources (budget, time, staffing). That could be one reason that most industrial marketers are trying to do all the work themselves and not outsource content production, although that strategy definitely eats up a lot of time.

Twenty-eight percent said their greatest challenge was being unable to pinpoint how content marketing contributes to sales. Since most prospects will consume multiple pieces of content on their buying journey, it can be difficult to know what content works best and what doesn’t. This Marketing Maven article, “5 Tips for Measuring Marketing ROI,” can be of help.

One aspect of content marketing that industrial marketers have a firm control on is knowing what content resonates with their audience. Only 9 percent said it was their greatest content marketing challenge. Good job. There’s no substitute for having a keen understanding of the needs of your target audience.

Tell us – what challenges do you face when it comes to content marketing, and what do you have a good handle on?

Content Marketing Marketing, General

5 Ways to Give Your Content Marketing A Boost

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Content marketing is one of the most effective and essential tactics in industrial marketing. In fact, eighty-six percent of manufacturers  use content marketing.

On average, marketers in the manufacturing sapce use five types of content. The most popular are social media posts, videos, illustrations/photos, case studies and eBooks/white papers.

However, despite the popularity of content marketing, many marketers struggle to continually come up with fresh content to fuel their efforts. That’s why we’ve put together this list of five ideas that could spark your imagination and give a boost to your content marketing.

1. Gather data about what your audience likes

Look through your website, email stats and other data you collect to find out what types of content your audience gravitates toward. What pages do they read the most? Which videos are most popular? What gets clicked on? What keywords do prospects use to find your site?

You might discover that specific posts, pages or white papers are responsible for a lot of your qualified leads. That’s like striking a content marketing goldmine. You’ve found a topic that resonates with your audience. Go broader and deeper into that topic by developing new content around it.

2. Answer five common questions

Work with your sales team to find out the most common questions they get from customers and prospects. Use the answers to create a helpful guide for your target audience.

This can be a valuable piece of content because it is relevant to what your audience is thinking. You can answer the questions as a straightforward Q&A, an article, an infographic or in another content format.

3. Hit the refresh button

Even the best content gets old and stale. Maybe you’ve changed your positioning or upgraded products or embraced new technology. Take a look through older content and refresh what’s out of date to reflect your current situation. Often this will require only minimal resources.

Refreshed content can rise in search engine rankings, helping to extend its useful life.

4. Write and pitch an educational article

Focus on a common customer problem and write an educational article that provides a solution. Target the article toward a specific publication or industry website and pitch the editor with your idea.

An educational article that appears in a respected industry publication or is published on an industry website is an excellent way to build credibility and trust and to demonstrate thought leadership. Include a customer story if possible, with quotes from several sources. Remember to remain objective and focused on the problem-solution approach. Don’t be promotional.

5. Answer the “How to ” question

When your target audience is trying to solve a problem or seek a solution, they are much more likely to begin a search query with “How to . . .” than they are to type your company or product name into a search engine.

You can create a lot of powerful and persuasive content by focusing on the “How to.” For example, each of these topic areas can follow the “How to” model:

  • Problem solving guides
  • Needs assessments
  • Building a solutions budget
  • Analyzing potential pitfalls
  • Vendor selection
  • Readiness assessments
  • ROI calculators

Bonus idea: Create dedicated landing pages

To really measure the effectiveness of your content, you should create dedicated landing pages for each of your content campaigns. The pages should be simple and focused on the action you want your prospect to take, whether it’s to complete a form, download a guide, watch a video, register for a webinar or other action.

You’ll find that a well-designed, dedicated landing page can boost the effectiveness of your content by increasing conversions.

Content marketing is going to remain high on the list of marketing tactics. Thirty-eight percent of manufacturers expect their organization’s content marketing budget to increase over the next 12 months. Get those ideas rolling and make sure your budget is well spent.

Content Marketing Marketing, General

How to Keep Up with Engineers on the Move

 

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Only 37 percent of engineers say they are very likely or completely likely to be employed by the same company five years from now.

Of those engineers who might leave their current role, 32 percent stated that moving to another company would be the reason they leave their current role. That percentage rises to 37 percent of those in the Electronics industry and 51 percent for millennials.

These results, from the “2018 Pulse of Engineering” survey conducted by IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions, point to the conclusion that engineers are on the move—and the impact on manufacturers and their marketing strategies can be significant. You may have invested significant time and resources toward building relationships with these engineers, only to have them move to another company.

Your goal, then, must be to make sure that when engineers move, they take you with them. How can you do this? By making your company so valuable to them that they couldn’t imagine starting a new job without your company as their ally.

Manufacturers Can Be Trusted Providers of Content

You might gain an advantage if your company can play a role in helping engineers advance along their learning curve. One of the keys is to produce content valued by engineers.

When asked how they systematically or formally maintain, educate and advance their professional skills, engineers answered books, colleagues, online training courses and webinars. Next most popular were technical white papers by vendors. And to complete projects they are working on, engineers turn to technical documentations, software and development tools, and product specification datasheets.

It may be a good time to review and possibly upgrade your company’s online training, webinars, technical documents and white papers.

Engineers May Leave, But You Can Stay

If you establish strong enough relationships with engineers, they may recommend you in their new positions when they change companies. Additionally, you still want to remain entrenched in their previous company, and the way to do that is to be an indispensable knowledge resource.

Engineers admit that knowledge or information loss is moderately (28 percent), very (31 percent) or extremely important (16 percent) as employees left their company. Yet 55 percent of companies surveyed don’t have formal practices in place to identify senior-level and specialized experts to train, transfer, mentor, manage or retain their knowledge among others in the organization. On average, engineers gave a 5.2 out of 10 satisfaction score for their company’s talent or knowledge management processes.

A significant gap exists between where companies are and where they should be in terms of maintaining, managing and transferring knowledge internally. That gap creates an opportunity for manufacturers to step in and provide customized content and training that will benefit these companies as well as embed the manufacturer within the company because of their expertise. Forty-four percent say that design involvement from external partners and vendors is increasing.

Whether engineers are moving to other companies or trying to retain knowledge when others have left, manufacturers can step up by providing the important content that can make them an invaluable resource to their present and future customers.

 

 

 

 

 

Content Marketing Customer Relationships Marketing, General

Engineers Are Facing an Information Shortage – Here’s How You Can Help

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Most marketers know that engineers and technical professionals consume a lot of content. Various forms of content are necessary to help them stay informed, perform their jobs better, and to aid their buying decisions. Good content from vendors helps educate engineers and increases their confidence in the products and services they purchase or recommend.

However, many engineers are facing an information shortage or having trouble managing information- they don’t have easy access to the amount of technical, relevant and educational content they are looking for. The IEEE GlobalSpec “Pulse of Engineering” survey reports that 44 percent of engineers are dealing with constraints in accessing/managing information. Sixty-six percent of engineers are constrained by a lack of specialized knowledge in their organizations.

Here’s how to help your current and prospective clients by satisfying their need for knowledge.

Get Technical with Your Audience

If engineers are constrained by an information shortage, the impact can be significant due to their reliance on technical content. When asked what the three most essential systems or tools they use to complete their projects are, 69 percent said technical documentation and 67 percent said software and development tools. The next most important tools were product specification data and datasheets.

These results offer a message to manufacturers: your customers need technical content. Don’t be afraid to dig deep and get into the weeds on the specifics of your products and services, and how they compare to others in the industry. If you can supply this content, you will likely be in a better position to win business and become an essential ally to your customers.

Get Information in Their Hands

For manufacturers like you to meet the information needs of their audience, they need an effective content marketing strategy. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

The good news is that the vast majority of manufacturers (86 percent) use content marketing, according to an annual research report — “2018 Manufacturing Content Marketing” — conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, and sponsored in by IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions.

However, only 22 percent of manufacturers describe their content marketing efforts as mature or sophisticated and only 19 percent have a documented content marketing strategy. Fifty-five percent consider their organization’s content marketing approach to be moderately successful. That leaves plenty of room for improvement.

Among the content types, distribution formats, and social media platforms that respondents use, videos (pre-produced), email, and LinkedIn were rated by content marketers as most effective in helping their organizations achieve specific objectives. The top six types of content produced by manufacturers are social media posts, pre-produced video, illustrations/photos, case studies, eBooks/white papers, and infographics. In creating and refining your content marketing strategy, learn from your peers and consider adding these types of content that have proven effective.

What Engineers Will Exchange for Content

Your audience is willing to exchange a range of things for the information they want. The Pulse of Engineering report found that 53 percent of engineers are willing to register on a website for access to specific documents. Twenty-six percent said they were willing to pay for access to premium content and prefer to pay one set rate for access to all of an organization’s documentation. Twenty-three percent prefer to pay for access to documents as they are needed.

As far as content used to advance their professional skills, engineers mainly use books, colleagues, online training courses, and webinars.

These two research reports provide clear takeaways for manufacturers: Become the vendor that meets your audience’s information needs. Improve your content marketing efforts. Don’t be afraid to take a deep dive into your products and services, offering the technical, in-depth knowledge that engineers and technical professionals are looking for. They will thank you with their business.

Content Marketing Customer Relationships Marketing, General

How to Rise Above Your Competitors

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The three biggest challenges that industrial marketers face: Limited marketing resources, generating enough high quality leads for sales and increased competition. The first two are perennial challenges, the third a more recent trend.

These findings were reported in the “2017 Industrial Marketing Trends” research survey conducted by IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions.

One of the major reasons competition has increased and become more of a challenge is the predominance of digital media and its many channels. Engineers and other technical professionals have more discovery resources at their disposal than ever before. They are exposed to more suppliers in their search for products, services, and information.

That makes your job harder, but you can rise above your competitors. Here’s how.

Diversify Your Spending

The most successful marketers use a mix of push/outbound (email, tradeshows) and pull/inbound marketing tactics (corporate website, online catalogs).

An optimized mix of channels and tactics is crucial for reaching out to and connecting with technical professionals. The broader your presence, the more likely potential customers will see you and not your competitors.

Past research demonstrates the performance benefits of diversifying your marketing spend across multiple digital media channels rather than relying on a single platform. Consider shifting a portion of your budget to other online channels such as online directories/websites, e-newsletters, webinars, and video.

Maintain Marketing Momentum

A common mistake some marketers make is to execute a campaign and then take their foot off the gas. Don’t do this. Your mantra should be “never stop marketing.”

If you disappear for a while, customers might forget about your company and your products and services, leaving an opening for competitors to fill the void. Even if your budget is modest, you can maintain marketing momentum by staying committed to those channels that work best for you.

Differentiate Your Offerings

Whether you market and sell commodity products or complex, customized systems, you need to differentiate your offerings from those of your competitors. What’s special about your products and services?

Fifty-four percent of industrial marketers say their key differentiator is the quality of their products and services. If quality is what sets you apart, then highlight quality over and over again in your messaging. If it’s something else—low cost, superior customer support, warranties, etc.—then play those attributes up.

Produce Exceptional Content

Your audience is clamoring for relevant, educational content that can help them navigate through their buying cycle and make the right purchasing decisions.

Focus on improving your content marketing skills by better understanding customer needs and challenges, and producing content that they trust, which in turn helps them to trust you. Use webinars, white papers, articles, newsletters, videos and other content to show potential customers how to solve a problem, how a technology or product works, or how to perform a task.

Put your energy and time into educating potential customers, while leaving the hard sell to your competitors, and see who wins more business.

Cultivate a Visual Brand Identity

One way to separate yourself from the competition is to be immediately recognizable to potential customers. This means you should cultivate a consistent look and feel in advertisements, webinars, white papers and other marketing content.

For example, choose a color palette and stick with it. Use the same fonts. Create a unique style of imagery. Arrange elements in the same manner. Put your logo in the same place. While these may seem like small touches, they take on significance when your audience is repeatedly exposed to them. They’ll remember you instead of your competition.

Perform Competitive Research

If you want to rise above your competitors you have to know where they stand. This doesn’t mean you must commission an extensive competitive research project. But you must be familiar with your competitor’s offerings and how they position their company, products, and services.

Scour their websites, download their content, study their marketing tendencies. You can create competitive “cheat sheets” that counter the value propositions your competitors make. Salespeople will thank you.

Partner Up

If competitors are getting in your way, find a way around them. A trusted, expert media partner that understands and has the attention of your audience and is knowledgeable about market trends, can help you optimize your marketing mix and laser target the customers you need to reach.

The right media partner is your essential ally in a competitive environment. They often have ideas and strategies you may not have thought of and can help put your company in the best possible position to succeed.

Now go beat your competition.

 

Content Marketing Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

Is Your Online Presence Helping or Hurting Your Brand?

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Next to search engines, supplier and vendor websites are the sources engineers use most when seeking information on the latest engineering technologies, industry trends and products. This is just one revelation from a new survey from IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing, “Smart Marketing for Engineers.”

It’s hard to overstate the importance of your online presence when you are competing for business. For the majority of engineers (52 percent), a company’s website has considerable impact on their perceptions of them as a credible, technically competent vendor.

Here are three ways to make sure your online presence helps, not hurts, your brand.

Carefully choose fields in website forms

Engineers and technical professionals are willing to share some information about themselves in exchange for content, but no one wants to jump through unnecessary hoops to get content.

The four fields engineers are most likely to complete in a form on a company’s website are work email address (66 percent), company name (54 percent) and first and last names (48 percent and 45 percent, respectively). The fields they are least likely to complete are purchase time frame (10 percent) and mobile phone number (18 percent).

A good rule of thumb is to ask only for basic information, especially from new contacts. You can collect additional information, such as purchase time frame, budget, and purchasing authority as you further qualify your prospect and help them along their buying journey. Another good rule of thumb is to use dynamic forms, so that prospects don’t have to reenter information they’ve already provided.

Respond to inquiries in internet time

Forty-two percent of engineers expect to be contacted by a vendor within 24 hours, and 22 percent expect to be contacted within 48 hours.

This means you need a reliable process for responding to submitted forms. At a minimum, send an autoresponder that promises a personal follow-up, which lets a prospect know that you have acknowledged them. Better yet is a response from a named individual. Go one step further in your response and include links to content related to what your prospect has registered for.

Every gesture you make that shows you are listening and ready to help will be appreciated—and the faster the response, the more likely the payoff to you in terms of winning business. Eighty-four percent of engineers and technical professionals are more likely to do business with companies that engage with them after indicating interest. Younger engineers in particular are more likely to do business with companies that thank them for their interest and offer further related resources.

Keep the content on your website fresh

A whopping ninety-two percent of engineers are more likely to do business with companies that regularly produce new and current content. So keep your content machine rolling.

The content can be new or updated web pages; download offers of white papers, articles or application notes; videos; webinar invitations; blog posts; infographics and posters—anything useful in helping engineers and technical professionals make informed buying decisions.

The takeaway here is to pay close attention to your website and the impression it creates on customers. Use it as a relationship building engine for your marketing and sales team. For more marketing recommendations and the complete survey results, download your complimentary copy of the latest research, “Smart Marketing for Engineers.”

 

 

 

Content Marketing