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

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.

Content Marketing Digital Media E-Mail Marketing

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

Ten Tips to Increase Clicks in Your Marketing Emails

Earning a click-thru on a marketing email is a badge of honor. It ranks higher than an email open and is a measure of an engineer’s engagement with your content and your skills as a marketer.

With upcoming changes Apple will be implementing to protect user privacy (see companion article), clicks will take on even more significance as an email marketing metric. Here are ten tips for increasing click-thru rates on marketing emails.

1. Place buttons “above the fold”

“Above the fold” is a newspaper term referring to the top half of the paper. In an email, it refers to the area a user can see without having to scroll. Make sure the first appearance of your call-to-action (CTA) button is visible without scrolling, making it possible for a quick decision to click.

2. Use both buttons and text for links

Buttons in bright colors are attention-grabbing and might attract clicks, but text links within copy are just as important for users who block images or like to read the copy. Sprinkle both buttons and text links in strategic places throughout the email.

3. Use action verbs on buttons and text links

Make it easy for your email recipient to understand what to do and what they will get if they click. Action verbs get the job done. Words like Download, Read, Register, Watch, Get, Listen, Calculate, Compare and other action verbs are perfect for enticing clicks.

4. Offer different types of content

Notice some of the action verbs in the tip above: read, watch, listen. Each of these words promises a different type of content. Many engineers prefer to read the content. A growing percentage are watching videos. Podcasts offer another option for delivering content. Not every email has to contain all content types, but try out different formats and track your metrics to see what is popular.

5. Main offer, secondary offer

Each email should have one specific purpose with a CTA you are using to entice your audience to click. This main offer should be front and center to command the attention of your audience. However, it is also effective to add secondary content and click opportunities to your email. An engineer who does not find your main offer attractive might notice and click on a secondary offer.

6. Create a sense of urgency

Offers that are good for only a limited time or limited to a certain number of people such as event registrations that are closing soon or even “breaking news” are all ways to instill a sense of urgency in your audience and possibly increase clicks. However, do not deceptively use this tactic. If a discount on an event registration always applies, do not say it expires in two days.

7. Use responsive email templates

More than half of all emails are opened and read on mobile devices. For this reason, you need responsive email templates that render the content in an easy-to-read format on any device, whether the recipient is using a desktop, tablet or phone. An email that is too small to read on a cellphone or requires horizontal scrolling will likely be ignored. You will not get many clicks that way.

8. Use A/B testing

A/B testing is simple: divide your list (or a part of your list) in two and test two different versions of an email to see which one gets more clicks. Create your first email, then change only one aspect of it to create a second version. It might be your button placement, offer, headline, or another variable. You should only test one thing at a time in order to understand the results from that one change. If you have multiple changes you’d like to test, then you can perform more than one A/B test.

9. Segment and personalize

If you only have one product, one message, and one customer type, then you can ignore this tip and send everyone the same email. But it is more likely you have different types of customers who have different interests. The more you can segment your list and personalize content for them (even ‘Dear Dave’ is helpful personalization), the more likely you are to get clicks.

10. Be relevant

We would not be the Maven if we did not harp on relevancy. This is the most important tip of them all. The more you are tuned into your customers’ wants and needs—and address them with targeted content in your marketing emails—the more they will pay attention and the more clicks you can earn.

Content Marketing Digital Media E-Mail Marketing Marketing Measurement Marketing Strategy Marketing, General
Seven Ways Content Can Make You More Competitive

Seven Ways Content Can Make You More Competitive

Seven Ways Content Can Make You More Competitive

The rise of the digital era has in many ways increased competition in the industrial sector and leveled the playing field between small and large companies. Smaller companies with a robust online presence have more opportunities than ever to attract an engineering audience, while larger companies can defend their brand and market positions.

But one way for a company of any size to rise above its competitors is to use content to its advantage. Here are seven ways content can give your marketing efforts a lift.

1. Educate, Don’t Sell

When it comes to producing content, consider the Golden Rule: treat others as you wish to be treated. In other words, you don’t want the hard sell, and neither do engineers. What they want is educational information: facts, statistics, information, objectivity. They want to learn how to do their jobs better, not get pressured into buying something they may or may not need to complete a project.

The more you make your content educational, the more helpful you are to your audience, and the more likely they will turn your way.

2. Right Content, Right Channels

Engineers use a variety of content types and access that content through several different preferred channels. According to the 2021 State of Marketing to Engineers research report, datasheets, case studies, white papers, and product demo videos top the list as the most valuable content types engineers use.

To maintain and advance their professional skills, engineers gravitate toward content such as online training courses, webinars, and white papers, as reported in the 2021 Pulse of Engineering.

With many tradeshows and in-person events canceled over the past year due to the pandemic, the most popular channels for accessing information are supplier/vendor websites, online trade publications, publication email/e-newsletters, and vendor email/e-newsletters.

Make these content types and channels part of your marketing mix and you might be able to separate your company from the pack.

3. Fill the Knowledge Gap with Content

The Pulse of Engineering report also found that a major concern for industrial companies is the knowledge and expertise that is lost when employees leave the company. Many do not have formal processes for preserving and passing on domain knowledge. Savvy suppliers and vendors can help fill the knowledge gap and become important allies to their customers by providing valuable content through online training courses, webinars, and white papers.

4. Use Gated Content to Build Your Database

Sometimes the best defense against the competition is a comprehensive database of customers and prospects. While some companies are hesitant to gate content behind forms in fear of turning away potential prospects, engineers are willing to fill out forms for highly technical content. White papers and CAD drawings are the most popular premium pieces of content. Video tutorials, webinars, and product configurators are also desired by technical buyers. Our research shows that engineers are most likely to fill out contact information forms for these valuable resources.

5. Produce Content for the Entire Buying Cycle

Research consistently shows engineers rely upon online content heavily during the buying process. Online content supports over 50 percent of the buyer’s journey, as reported in the 2021 State of Marketing to Engineers. Sixty-two percent of respondents complete more than half of the buying process online, and when looking at engineers age 45 and under, the online journey lengthens to over seventy percent.

Make sure you have plenty of content such as educational articles, white papers, videos, webinars, and technical documentation for the early phases of the engineer’s buy cycle when they are analyzing their needs and searching for potential suppliers and products. Content such as ROI calculators, case studies, and warranty policies can help close the deal later in the buying cycle.

6. Keep Producing Content

Content isn’t something you pay attention to only at the beginning of the year or to support specific events such as product launches. Content marketing is an ongoing process of producing, repurposing, posting, and tracking content. Your audience as well as search engines are both hungry for fresh, relevant technical content. You have to keep feeding the beast to rise above.

7. Stay on Message and Brand

Is your content consistent in its messaging as well as its look and feel? Even when you have a variety of content types, your company’s brand essence and key messaging points should come through on each piece. Consistency and continuity of content help engineers identify and remember you. Find the common threads that are important and stitch them into all of your content.

Content Marketing Marketing, General Multichannel Marketing

Sustainable Manufacturing in the 21st Century – Why You Should Be Talking About It

You might have noticed that a lot more manufacturers are talking about sustainability: both their own sustainability initiatives and how their products and services help customers pursue sustainability efforts.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products through economically-sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources.

The increased attention toward sustainability is coming from two sides. First, manufacturers are realizing economic benefits from sustainability initiatives. And second, buyers are demanding products manufactured using greener and more environmentally sound processes.

Manufacturers focused on sustainability can achieve a number of business benefits:

Reduced costs—Whether making use of natural lighting on a shop floor, reusing wastewater, investing in energy-efficient machinery, reducing scrap and waste, or gaining tax credits through use of renewable energy sources, green practices can contribute to cost reductions over time.

New customers—Many buyers are now concerned with sustainability and are looking for greener products and products sourced more locally. This presents new market opportunities for suppliers adopting green policies and practices.

Positive brand associations—Sustainability initiatives can help increase positive attributes associate with your brand. Customers and the market are paying much greater attention to sustainability and those manufacturers that are part of the solution can become the object of that attention.

Attract new employees—As older engineers retire, manufacturers must compete with each other to attract a new generation of millennial engineers. Younger engineers tend to care more about environmental issues such as climate change, natural resource use, and green business practices. Manufacturers committed to sustainability have that extra something to offer in their recruiting efforts.

Both small and large companies are embracing sustainability practices, for economic as well as ethical reasons. They are working to educate the market about the importance of carbon footprint reduction and energy savings, and showcasing their sustainability plan in their marketing and communication efforts. You should too, if your company is committed to sustainability.

Website

Your website is the first impression many of your customers and prospects have with your company. Bring your sustainability message to the forefront by dedicating a page to your efforts. Include sustainability practices, certifications, awards, and other content that promotes your company’s commitment to sustainability.

KPS Global, a manufacturer of insulated panels, has a Sustainable Solutions page under its About Us section.  Chromalox, a company that engineers thermal solutions, leads with a sustainability message on its home page. These companies realize the importance of promoting sustainability to the market.

Marketing Content

Consider including a brief sustainability message on marketing content such as datasheets, white papers, and presentations. You might also have an opportunity to add sustainability language to boilerplate content such as company descriptions. Go further and produce a webinar that is focused on sustainability and why it matters to your customers.

If your products and services help customers save resources or energy or operate in other environmentally friendly ways, those benefits should appear in your marketing content. Make clear to your customers your awareness of the importance of sustainability.

Take Advantage of Lean Manufacturing

The goal of lean manufacturing is to eliminate all unnecessary waste from operations. Waste is defined as anything that doesn’t add value for the customer.

If your company engages in lean practices, you might find that your lean manufacturing processes produce sustainability benefits that you can talk about.

For example, Baxter Healthcare Corporation developed a value stream map that saves 170,000 gallons of water a day. Columbia Paint & Coatings reduced 15,000 pounds of paint solids from wash water and saved 18,000 pounds of shrink wrap. These are the kind of results that companies should communicate to their customers.

It’s important to keep in mind that sustainability isn’t just a buzzword you adopt to get attention in the market. Customers will see through any transparent attempts. If your company hasn’t done so already, it’s time to address sustainability in a coordinated, integrated, and formal manner. Marketing has an important role to play in this new era.

Content Marketing Customer Relationships Marketing, General

Use the Content Marketing Ripple Effect to Your Advantage

Have you ever tossed a pebble into the water and watched the ripples expand in widening circles that spread across the surface?

That same concept is applicable to content marketing when you put in motion an integrated strategy that the support of social media and search engine marketing.

Consider the effort involved in launching a new product or service. To promote the launch, you create a variety of useful, relevant content. This may include white papers, press releases, blog posts, data sheets, webinars, videos, infographics, and more.

How you distribute that content and the ripple effect it creates will largely determine the success of your efforts. The plan for content might look something like this:

  • First, develop targeted content to support the marketing initiative.
  • Next, post content on your website and promote it through email marketing, directory listings, display advertisements, and social media.
  • Then, keyword-heavy links in your promotion channels drive your audience to your content and to your website where they can learn more about your product and you can capture visitor conversions.

That launch sequence is akin to throwing the stone in the water—it’s your initial splash.

If your content is strong, directed to your target audience, and relevant to them, the ripple effect can occur.

Here’s how it works:

When an audience interacts with your content or clicks on a keyword link, they are being directed to your website. Or when your audience likes your post on a social media, leaves a comment, or shares it with their own followers, they are helping to amplify your content and expand its reach.

An increasing number of inbound links from directories, advertisements, and social media to your content increases relevant traffic to the web pages devoted to the product or service you are launching and promoting.

While no one knows exactly how social signals such as views, likes, shares, and retweets directly influence search engine rankings, we do know social signals broaden your brand exposure, drive traffic, and increase incoming links. This activity creates a downstream positive impact on the factors that major search engines do consider, including relevant traffic, backlinks, and page popularity.

For example:

  • When your audience likes your post, re-tweets your tweet, leaves a comment, and shares your content with their own social connections, these social signals raise the profile of your content (and your company) and expand its reach.
  • As your content appears in more places and more links are generated to your website, your search engine rankings for specific pages can improve. This is true when content and links are on directories and media sites, such as GlobalSpec, as well as when the content and links appear on social media channels.

There is an additional advantage to posting links to your content on social media: While almost everyone uses search engines in their mission to find products and services, engineers are more likely to trust recommendations from people they know than they are the results of search engine keyword queries. If you’ve ever had a friend or colleague share a social media post with you and say “I love this product” or “You have to check this out,” chances are you will.

One caveat: providing a stream of strong, relevant content to your audience is not a one-and-done deal. It is an integrated and ongoing strategy of content creation, social media sharing, and searching engine marketing. You must continually provide fresh content for search engines and your audience, and not just make a single splash when you have a big announcement or launch.

That means engaging in the hard work of content marketing day after day, week after week. There are no shortcuts. But the benefits of the ripple effect are worth the effort.

Content Marketing SEM Social Media

How to Use Content to Ease the Pressure on Engineers

The annual “Pulse of Engineering” survey published by GlobalSpec has long underscored the pressures faced by engineers as they do their jobs. This year’s report reveals that these existing pressures have combined with the impact of the coronavirus to create even more challenges for engineers to face.  

Every day, engineers are dealing with highly competitive markets, shrinking design cycles, time-to-market pressures, and loss of institutional knowledge.

Consider these survey findings:

  • Fifty-eight percent of engineers say the competitive landscape is global and competes 24/7.
  • Seventy-three percent say designs are becoming more complex/sophisticated, 64 percent say there are increased time-to-market pressures, and 58 percent report that design cycles are shrinking.
  • The majority say their company’s productivity, innovation, and/or product quality are constrained by a shortage of specialized talent/knowledge.

Marketers can step in and use their content creation and marketing skills to help alleviate these pressures on engineers. Here are four ways you can be a part of the solution to the challenges facing engineers.

1. Help engineers complete their projects

Engineers use technical documentation, software and development tools, product specification data, and datasheets as their most essential systems or tools to complete projects.

Good content from vendors helps to educate engineers and increase their confidence in the products and services they purchase or recommend. Your content should include the technical information and specification data that engineers are seeking.

Maintain a well-organized, accurate, and up-to-date portfolio of technical content that engineers can easily access on your website and that you promote to them through your marketing efforts such as email, social media, and industry websites.

The manufacturer that meets these content needs for its audience and provides the helping hand in completing projects is the manufacturer that is more likely to earn and convert business opportunities.

2. Focus messaging on customer pain points

Specifications and datasheets are essential, and so is providing context around your product and service offerings. When creating content, focus on how your products and services can help speed up design cycles or reduce time-to-market pressures.

In an era in which designs are more complex, does your content explain difficult concepts clearly, helping engineers grasp what you have to say quickly and easily? When you hit your customers’ pain points, they will respond to your messaging.

3. Fill in knowledge gaps

In the “2021 Pulse of Engineering” survey, 58 percent of engineers said that knowledge and/or information loss as employees left the company is very or extremely important. Another 26 percent said it was moderately important.

The issue is exacerbated due to older engineers retiring, layoffs during the coronavirus pandemic, and organic turnover. Yet only 39 percent of companies have formal practices in place to identify senior-level and specialized experts to train, transfer, mentor, or retain their knowledge among others in the organization.

That leaves a significant gap in some companies. Marketers can be a valuable contributor in helping their customers preserve institutional knowledge. White papers, webinars, articles, and other technical content can explain processes, describe how to complete a task, compare different approaches to solving a problem, and document best practices.

This type of content—educational and customer-focused rather than promotional and sales-focused—can become a part of a client organization’s knowledge library.

4. Help engineers advance their skills

Engineers report that their most effective ways to systematically or formally maintain, educate, and advance their professional skills are online training courses, webinars, and peers.

But only 39 percent of manufacturing marketers used webinars/online events as a content type in the past twelve months, according to the research report “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020,” produced by the Content Marketing Institute.

It might be time to devote more resources to webinars, especially during the coronavirus pandemic when many engineers are avoiding traveling and most in-person events are canceled.

You can create webinars to host online training sessions for engineers covering topics they need to know and that you specialize in. Be sure to archive any training sessions so engineers can always have access to the content.

The “2021 Pulse of Engineering” report has clear takeaways for manufacturers: become the vendor that meets your audience’s information needs. 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

Budget-Conscious Content Marketing Ideas

saving money on content marketing

Content marketing is one of the most important and successful initiatives for industrial marketers. Your audience of engineers is constantly searching for relevant content to educate themselves and to help make more informed purchase decisions.

Eighty-two percent of manufacturers consider themselves at least moderately successful at content marketing, according to the survey, “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020,” conducted by the Content Marketing Institute.

Your ability to be successful right now might be compromised due to budget limitations and market conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. However, industrial marketers are a creative, resilient group that knows how to do more with less.

Here are some budget-conscious ideas to help you maintain content marketing momentum and success. Not every idea is appropriate for every company, but there should be several that fit nicely with your goals.

Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose

Repurposing content is an established best practice of content marketing. It saves time, saves money, and helps ensure a consistent message across different content formats and channels.

Your content library may have a few signature pieces, such as a comprehensive white paper or an eBook. White papers or eBooks can be segmented into a series of short articles, blog posts or web pages. A presentation you created for a conference can become a webinar. A single slide with figures and data might make a good infographic.

Focus on the most important content

According to the survey, “Smart Marketing for Engineers,” produced by GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing, the content most valuable to engineers includes datasheets, case studies, product demo videos, and white papers.

If you’re not able to produce all the content on your list right now, stick to these essential pieces. Technical datasheets can serve double-duty by as a page on your website—another example of repurposing content. The same survey found that the most important website features for engineers are in-depth technical information and technical specifications.

Increase Social Media Usage

Social media is an effective way to raise brand awareness and keep your company top of mind with prospects even if they aren’t ready to buy right now.

Social media posts can be short and simple. Consider starting a discussion on LinkedIn or participating in other discussions. Also, you don’t have to create all of your own social media content. Easily half of your content can be curated from other sources, such as industry experts, partners, analysts, or others. Include a short note on why the content is relevant to your audience, create a link and you’re done.

Another idea is to recruit guest bloggers. You can look to customers, partners, and your own subject matter experts for blog posts.

Narrow your target audiences

On average, manufacturers create content for four different audiences. Half of the content is for top-of-funnel awareness.

If you’re really strapped for resources, focus content marketing on your most important audiences—those that have the biggest sway over purchase decisions. Make sure that you have content for various stages of your customer’s buying cycle, but don’t overdo it.

Send an extra email or two this month

You likely have an email marketing strategy and most manufacturers use an email marketing platform that offers flexibility around how many and how often you send emails.

Now is a good time to craft a “special” email that extends the boundaries of your usual campaigns. Inform your audience what’s going on at your company. If you have any new policies or procedures for interacting with customers, this is a good way to let them know. Work with your sales team to craft a special offer. Or simply let customers and prospects know you’re staying in touch and thinking of them during these challenging times.

Bring on a summer intern

There are a lot of college students out there eager for something to do this summer. An internship in the marketing department of a manufacturer would look good on their resume.

Determine what activities you need the most help with, whether writing or designing content, updating social media, repurposing for other formats, shooting video, or assisting with analytics. Lots of talented young people are out there. You’d be doing yourself and them a favor by making one of them an intern.

Content Marketing

Tips for Marketing During Challenging Times

Your plan was set in place and the marketing machine was humming along, but then uncertainty set in.  You suddenly find that external factors you simply cannot control, such as the economy or the impact of the coronavirus, are affecting your marketing efforts.

Your instinct might be to pull back from marketing during difficult times, but this is unlikely to be the best strategy. Cut back and you could lose market share to competitors or you begin to fall behind leading to a downward spiral.

Instead, when faced with external challenges, you need to find ways to adjust your current marketing plan to be more effective. Your mantra should be to “prepare not panic.”

Here are some tips:

Focus on what you can control

While you can’t control the emergence of external factors, you can control how you react. For example:

  • Recognize where demand is and what markets are strong and allocate your investments in those areas.
  • Keep track of what your customers and prospects are saying and doing and adjust your marketing channels and messaging to align with their needs.
  • Maintain visibility in your most important sectors, even if it means reallocating budget from less essential or more experimental programs.

Re-examine your marketing goals

During challenging times, it’s important to take a close look at your marketing goals. You might have to make decisions regarding what goals are must-haves, such as supporting a new product launch, while others might be nice-to-have, such as trying to enter a new market.

Given the current situation, some of your goals may no longer be achievable or your plans no longer viable. The sooner you recognize what you can and can’t achieve—and prioritize what you must achieve—the quicker you can take effective action.

For example, if you usually promote a product launch at a trade show that has been canceled, you can reallocate that marketing budget to other activities, such as e-newsletter or display ads, webinars, or content marketing.

Stay on top of measurement

More than ever, you need to get the most out of every marketing dollar during challenging times. While it’s always the right time to purge marketing programs that don’t perform, it may be time to suspend or scale back any marketing plans whose results you can’t measure or are unsure about.

If uncertainty is causing rapid changes in the market, increase your frequency of measurement to spot any disturbing (or encouraging) performance trends in your marketing programs.

You might find that some programs are working better than expected, while others are underperforming your stated goals. Use this opportunity to reallocate your budget to those programs that are most effective.

Get more from your existing marketing assets

This could be a good time to focus on updating web pages, repurposing content for other uses, or even combining programs.

Whatever the external climate, your website is still the face of your company and prospects will continue to visit. Make sure the content is current and accurate, links work, and pages are optimized for search.

In addition, repurpose and reuse content. Take that white paper and create a series of blog posts or develop a webinar. Create infographics using market or product data. Conduct a customer survey. You remain the owner and in full control of your content, so focus on making the most of what you have.

Another possibility is combining programs. If you are running a webinar series and planning to exhibit at a trade show that is no longer part of your plan, you may want to integrate your tradeshow message into your webinar series and use email and e-newsletter advertisements to promote the combined event.

Stay visible in your most important markets

If you do have to make program adjustments due to external pressures or other factors, don’t sacrifice your most important markets or most effective programs. If anything, reallocate budget to those initiatives from weaker performing programs or uncertain markets. Challenging times are often the right time for “circling the wagons” and defending your territory.

Reap the benefits of working with media partners

In challenging times, you may be forced to make harder and smarter decisions about allocating budgets. You don’t have to do this alone. Ask existing or potential media partners, who may have a broader and deeper view of the market, their advice on how to handle market uncertainty.

Ask media partners to demonstrate how their marketing solutions can help your company achieve its goals during challenging times. You may come away with unique ideas to navigate this period of uncertainty and come out the other end in a position of strength.

Content Marketing Digital Media Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Marketing, General Productivity