Six Tips to Get the Best Return from Your Webinars

One of the key reasons why webinars are an effective marketing tactic is that your attending audience tends to be motivated and interested. Think about it: they are taking 30 minutes to an hour or so out of their busy day to listen to your message and interact with your presenters. That takes a lot more effort on their part than, for instance, scanning an email or reading a web page.

If you aren’t already, you should integrate webinars into your marketing mix. If you currently are using webinars, you can make them stronger and more successful. Here are six tips (plus a bonus!) on how to be efficient and earn a higher return on your webinar efforts.

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WeBINARS ATTRACT MOTIVATED AND ENGAGED ENGINEERS AND TECHNICAL PROFESSIONALS. mAKE THEM WORK EVEN HARDER FOR YOU WITH THESE SIX TIPS.

1. Leverage content you already have

You might have an existing presentation from an industry conference, technical report, white paper, product demo, customer testimonial or other content that can make a strong foundation for a webinar or at least help generate ideas for a webinar. You don’t have to start from scratch every time. Another benefit of leveraging existing content is that it helps you deliver a consistent message to the market.

2. Be clear on your topic and the audience you want to reach

You need to be honest with your audience on what to expect during your webinar or they will lose trust in your brand and company. Webinars are ideal to deliver thought leadership content. If your webinar is about how additive manufacturing is transforming the automotive industry, then it shouldn’t be about your 3D printers. It’s standard practice for the host or sponsor of a webinar to deliver a brief promotion about its products. However, if you want to devote an entire webinar to the benefits of your products, then that needs to be clear in your webinar promotions.

Before creating your webinar, you not only need to define your topic but also the audience you wish to attract. Leveraging your existing content can again provide an advantage here. For example, you might invite everyone who downloaded a certain white paper to a webinar on a topic related to the white paper. That way, you are matching topic to audience, and will increase the likelihood of keeping your audience engaged.

3. Promote the webinar through multiple channels

First follow the tip above about identifying your topic and the audience you want to attract, and then determine the best channels to promote your webinar. Your in-house email list is a likely choice as are your own website and social media platforms. You might consider reaching farther out to connect with a wider audience, as long as your content is relevant to them. Advertising in industry-specific e-newsletters is an effective way to reach a potentially new, yet still targeted audience. If you are working with a partner on the webinar, reach out to their email list in addition to your own. For an even broader audience, try promoting your webinar through banner ads on industrial websites, distributing press releases, or posting on your directory listings.

4. Generate new content during the live webinar

Today’s webinar hosting platforms offer sophisticated features such as real-time polls and live Q & A. Not only can you deliver educational content to your audience, you can capture content from your audience in return. Poll questions can serve as effective transitions between topics, help involve your audience, and return to you valuable information. You can display answers in real-time and offer comments on the results, making the webinar even more interactive. After the webinar, results of your polls can be the basis for blog articles, social media postings, infographics and more.

At the end of the webinar, you will typically leave time for a question and answer period. Again, you can gain valuable information from your audience based on the questions they ask. You might be able to use this content to create an FAQ document to share on your blog, website and through social media.

5. Extend the shelf life of your webinar content

Your webinar content can remain useful long after the live event itself is over. You can archive the webinar on your website for on-demand viewing. Post it to YouTube or SlideShare. Write a blog post re-cap of the event. These other channels provide an opportunity for those in your audience who missed or didn’t know about the webinar to access the content. On-demand availability also gives you another opportunity to reach out to your email list (Sorry we missed you, now you can view the webinar at your convenience…). You can reasonably ask for registration information from visitors who want to view recorded webinars, resulting in additional engagement opportunities for you.

6. Follow-up with attendees

An engineer or technical professional who attended your webinar has demonstrated an active interest in your content. Be sure to have in place a marketing process to stay in touch with those attendees. Some of them might have expressed enough interest to qualify as a good engagement opportunity for your sales team; others may be better suited to a longer-term nurturing program. However you score these opportunities, be sure to deliver relevant content to them based on their interest in your webinar topic.

Bonus: Sponsor a webinar featuring an industry thought leader

If you would like to take advantage of the engagement opportunities generated by a webinar, without putting together and executing the actual presentation, you may want to consider sponsoring a webinar delivered by an expert in your industry.

These types of webinars are usually on a pre-determined topic (although the sponsor may have some input) and feature a trusted authority in the market presenting on a topic of interest to your audience.

The sponsor receives branding and association with the expert’s thought leadership as well as exposure to an audience they might not otherwise have attracted to their content.

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How are you using webinars in your marketing strategy? What advice or tips would you give your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Learn more about webinar solutions from IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions.

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Three Steps to Get Media Attention When You Have No News to Report

Media attention is one of the best ways to build brand awareness and demonstrate thought leadership for your company in the industrial sector. Respected third-party mentions of your company can help influence potential customers, and those relevant links back to your website are like gold. But what if your company doesn’t have any breaking news to write about for a press release? There’s a way around that problem. You can still gain the interest of editors, bloggers and writers. Just follow these three steps.

1. Identify the relevant media properties and journalists
If you have any kind of public relations or marketing strategy you probably already know (and read) the relevant websites, blogs, online publications and other media outlets that cover your industry. Make a list and start to dig deeper. Find out who the reporters, writers and editors are that cover the topics most closely related to your subject matter expertise, products and services. Get their contact information. Their email addresses are usually published next to their names.

Next, examine any media kits or editorial calendars these media outlets have available. Even mission statements can reveal special areas of interest. See where your company and expertise fits in. You have to plan because most media properties publish editorial calendars six months to a year in advance, plus it takes time to establish contact with editors and writers, build a relationship and pitch your story.

2. Generate and develop story ideas
This is the step where marketers sometimes get stuck because their company doesn’t have any breaking news to report. But there are always good stories waiting to be discovered and told. Here are a few ways to find them:

  • Piggyback on the issues currently trending in your industry. It might be a technology breakthrough, a shift in market dynamics, new regulations, a key merger or acquisition, or other issues in the news. What is your company’s position on these issues? Do you have a point of view that’s unique or under-reported? Develop a story around it.
  • Offer up an in-house expert to analyze or comment on trends or other recent news. Prepare a compelling bio for your expert that you can submit to editors. What’s special about your experts and what they have to say? Why will it be important to the readers of the publication?
  • Conduct a survey or other research and promote the findings to relevant media outlets. What have you uncovered in your research that may be of interest to the writers and editors—and the readers? You can also use the research tactic to produce white papers, webinars, articles and other marketing content.
  • Choose a topic that’s recently been covered. It might be an article about one of your competitors. Look for a side of the story that hasn’t been reported on and develop a new idea around it. Journalists like to report every side of a story and may be interested in follow-up articles.

3. Make Your Pitch
You have your list of targeted media outlets and contacts. You have your story idea and you’ve turned it into a compelling pitch. Now it’s time to reach out to reporters, bloggers, writers and editors. You need to personalize your pitch to each individual—don’t send out a spray-and-pray mass email. Introduce yourself and your company, pitch your story idea, and tell them why their audience will be interested (answer the always-relevant question: Who cares?). Offer background materials, which you should have at your fingertips ready to hit the send button. Do everything you can to make their jobs easier and make saying “yes” easier for them.

The fact is, the media in any industry is a story seller’s market for you, not a buyer’s market. Every media outlet is looking for the next great story to give to their readers. If you’ve got it, and you can make a convincing case for it, they will want it. Of course, not every idea you pitch will hit the strike zone. Sometimes your story won’t get picked up. But even if it doesn’t, you’ve cultivated relationships with important media contacts in your industry and have positioned yourself as a go-to resource that could be called upon in the future for quotes, opinions and interviews for other stories.

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Find the Perfect Balance of Content in Your Marketing Efforts

Now that most industrial marketers are deploying a content management strategy, they’ve also discovered how much work it is to produce and publish content. There’s also the question of what type of content you should put out there.

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Content types fit into one of three general categories. Thought leadership content that your company produces. Curated content that others produce and you share with your audience. And promotional content that focuses on your own products and services. Each type has its place in your content mix. There are no rigid rules about the mix, but we think a balance and appropriate breakdown looks something like this:

  • 30 percent thought leadership content
  • 50 percent curated content
  • 20 percent promotional content.

Thought Leadership Content

Thought leadership is original content produced by your internal team. It’s usually educational in nature. It’s always relevant to your audience. Thought leadership is powerful stuff because it:

  • Demonstrates your expertise in specific areas
  • Showcases your opinion and point of view on issues
  • Builds customer and market perceptions of your brand

Thought leadership content is also the hardest to produce. It requires the most resources in terms of generating ideas, writing, illustrating and more. It requires the most time and money. But you need to produce thought leadership as part of your content marketing strategy, and if only thirty percent of your content is thought leadership, you should be able to handle the effort especially if you repurpose your content in multiple formats. For example, a white paper can be the basis for a blog post or a product demo can evolve into a YouTube video.

Curated Content

To curate means to pull together, organize, sift through and select for presentation. Curating content from other sources and sharing it with your audience offers a number of benefits:

  • Requires fewer resources on your part to pull together
  • Faster to get it out because you don’t need to produce it
  • Gives your audience other perspectives
  • Also builds thought leadership because of what you choose to share and how you share it

If you’ve ever retweeted and commented on a link in Twitter, or shared an article on Facebook and added your commentary, then you’ve curated content. You’ve also gone one step further by adding context for your audience with your comment on what you’re sharing. That little extra—a comment added to the share—can help put your own spin on curated content.

You can easily discover content to curate. Follow other industry leaders and industry news sites. Track relevant hashtags on Twitter. Use Google Alerts to be notified when specific keywords appear in the news. Evaluate what you find and then share with your own audience what you consider to be the most useful and relevant content. If 50 percent of your content is curated, you’re letting others do a lot of the heavy lifting for you—and you’re working smarter.

Promotional Content

Because you share thought leadership and curated content you “earn” the right with your audience to publish promotional content. And by keeping the mix at 20 percent of your overall content, you are unlikely to anger your readers for occasionally tooting your own horn. They’re following you for a reason: they’re interested in what you have to say.

You need promotional content mixed in because you need ways to talk about new and updated products, or enhanced and expanded services. You need to get your target audience interested in what you sell. You need to make offers, generate engagement opportunities and keep your sales and marketing teams excited. And you can do all of this through content marketing, as long as you keep the percentage down.

Even promotional content can offer value. If you know your audience’s desires well, you can make your promotional content more targeted and increase the likelihood it will be accepted.

Where, What and How Often to Share

You have three basic choices on where to share content: your social media channels, corporate website or blog and e-newsletters. That’s a start. You may want to look at webinars, online events, banner advertising, press releases and third-party list rental to help promote your content to a wider audience.

What to share includes your own or third-party curated articles, blog posts, white papers, eBooks, presentations, videos, infographics and more.

How often should you share? As often as you can as long as your audience continues wanting to hear from you. If you find comments, likes and shares increasing on your content, you’ve got your audience’s interest. If people are dropping off, you’re sharing too much or what you’re sharing isn’t relevant. Find out what’s right for you.

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It’s the Golden Era for Webinars

This may be the golden era for webinars as a marketing tool in the industrial sector. Broadband connections are nearly ubiquitous, webinar hosting platforms offer sophisticated features enriching the webinar experience, and marketers have learned to offer relevant, educational content that technical professionals find interesting and useful.

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Here are six other reasons why webinars make such an effective marketing tool:

1. Webinars are easy for your audience
Technical professionals are already spending hours per week online for work-related purposes, so it’s easy for them to join your webinar right from their office, coffee cup or snack in hand. Plus, webinars break down geographical barriers; you can be anywhere in the world and still attend. This is especially helpful if your customers are dispersed and difficult to reach or your webinar topic has broad appeal. You can also make webinars easy by keeping them short—definitely under an hour, including Q&A time at the end. If your content is long or complex, consider creating a series of shorter webinars to make it easier for your audience.

2. Webinars generate good engagement opportunities
While webinars may be easy for your audience to attend, they also require commitment. Not just any lazy tire-kicker is going to attend your webinar. A technical professional willing to take time out of their busy day for your webinar is likely highly interested in your webinar topic and eager to learn something new. These are exactly the people you want to engage and start a relationship with. And you already have their contact information because they’ve registered.

3. Webinars let you be the expert
In a webinar, you’re educating your audience—about industry trends, novel solutions to problems, hot topics, new products or technologies—and by the nature of your position as host you’re the expert on the content. You’re in control of the message and how it’s delivered, unlike, for example, on social media where you don’t have control over comments and feedback. This makes webinars a perfect tool for helping to establish and maintain your thought leadership position on important topics.

4. Webinars let you give and get
With webinars, not only can you deliver educational content to your audience, you can capture data from your audience in return. Adding several real-time polling questions to your webinar can serve as effective transitions between topics, help involve your audience, and return to you valuable information. You can ask how technical professionals currently solve a problem you’re presenting on. Or how often they use certain types of products. Or any other multiple-choice question they can answer quickly. You can display their answers in real-time and comment on the results, making the webinar even more interactive.

5. Webinar content can be re-purposed
If this is the golden age of webinars, it’s also the golden age of content marketing. Every marketer has a mandate to get content into the hands of their target audience using multiple digital channels. Webinars can help. You can promote the content of your webinar over channels such as social media, your website, e-newsletter ads and banner ads. You can also re-purpose the webinar content into other forms: articles, white papers, infographics, videos and more. Not only do you help fulfill content marketing goals, you can maintain a consistent message across different content formats and distribution channels.

6. Webinars have a long shelf life
Webinars don’t have to be live events only. You can archive past webinars on your website for on-demand viewing by technical professionals. This gives those audience members who missed or didn’t know about the webinar an opportunity to participate. You can reasonably ask for registration information from visitors who want to view recorded webinars, resulting in additional engagement opportunities for you.

If you’d like to know how leading industrial suppliers are using webinars to build thought leadership and generate engagement opportunities, check out the schedule of upcoming webinars hosted by IHS GlobalSpec.

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Have you added webinars to your marketing mix? How have they helped generate engagement opportunities for you and your sales team? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Webinar Recap: Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector

Social media has made an impact in B2B marketing. According to Advertising Age, 58 percent of B2B marketers are increasing their social media spending this year, ranking it fourth among tactics with spending increases. Marketers are not only investing money, they are investing time, with 62 percent using social media for six hours or more each week and 36 percent for 11 or more hours, according to the Social Media Examiner.

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As spending grows and you commit valuable time to social media, this channel’s role becomes increasingly important in your marketing strategy. It’s essential to know how to do social media right. The recent webinar, Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector, shows how social media is being used by your target audience of technical professionals, presents the results from our fourth annual social media usage survey of technical professionals, and offers recommendations on how you can use this data in your social media planning.

Watch the webinar on demand.

Below are some of the highlights of the webinar.

How technical professionals use social media

  • The majority of technical professionals—56 percent—spend less than one hour per week on social media for work-related purposes. That still leaves a sizeable portion of this audience that is on social media for more than an hour each week.
  • For the most part, technical professionals are looking for content on social media: keeping up on company news, new technologies and products. But they’re also looking for you: 41 percent use social media to find new suppliers.
  • Technical professionals of all ages use social media, with some differences. Those under age 35 are more apt to use social media to find a new job, network and seek expertise, while older workers use social media for more traditional purposes such as reading news and product reviews.
  • Overall, technical professionals are passive users of social media. They tend to read and watch rather than post and participate. The most popular social media activity is watching video, with 27 percent watching a video a few times a month, whereas only 14 percent post a comment.

Preferred social media platforms

  • LinkedIn continues to be the most popular social media platform among technical professionals, with 74 percent having an account. Sixty-one percent have a Facebook account and 41 percent have a Google Plus account.
  • LinkedIn usage has shown growth every year for the past four years. Google Plus is also growing. Facebook and Twitter remain flat, but a large portion of technical professionals still use Facebook.
  • LinkedIn: 69 percent use LinkedIn to search for contacts and 47 percent to read product and industry news. Seventy-nine percent belong to at least one group, primarily to read discussions (62 percent). Only 27 percent actually participate.
  • Facebook: With the line between work and personal life continuing to blur, Facebook is not just for personal use. Top work-related activities on Facebook are following businesses and reading/researching content.
  • Twitter: 73 percent follow businesses and 27 percent read/research content.
  • Google Plus: 80 percent follow businesses and 25 percent participate in discussions.
  • Video: Overall, 48 percent of technical professionals use YouTube or other video sharing sites for work, although among 18-34 year olds, the percentage is 58. The most popular types of videos among technical professionals are product demos, how-to videos and training videos.

The value of digital resources

  • Your customers spend an increasing amount of time online using a variety of digital resources, but when researching work-related purchases, social media channels are not nearly as valued as other established digital channels. The top resources have remained consistent over the years: search engines, online catalogs, supplier websites and GlobalSpec.com.
  • Technical professionals report that social media is not more valuable because it is not efficient, too noisy and not reliable. Technical professionals also say it’s hard to find useful content on social media. In addition, about a quarter of workers are blocked from using social media at work; using a mobile device offers a workaround for that problem.
  • A key takeaway is that to be successful with social media you must deliver the content technical professionals want. This will help elevate you above the noise and become more valuable to your target audience.

Recommendations for suppliers

  • It’s worth using social media as a marketing channel; however, don’t rely on it too heavily or divert resources from more effective and established digital channels.
  • To get the most out of your efforts, integrate social media into your overall marketing strategy. Establish a vision, strategy and goals for your social media initiatives.
  • Tie your social media efforts to marketing objectives. Research shows that social media is best used for brand awareness and thought leadership.
  • Get more of your organization involved in spreading your message through social media. Seventy-eight percent of technical professionals say they have never posted news or information about their company on their social networks. Create guidelines and rules for using social media. Make it easy by providing content for your sales, customer service and other colleagues to post.
  • Gain a more in-depth look at social media usage by your target audience and how you can most effectively incorporate social media into your overall marketing efforts.

View the recorded webinar.

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Seven Steps to Thought Leadership in Your Industry

Admittedly, thought leadership is a buzzword. But like many buzzwords, rub away the patina of jargon and you’ll see there is substance relevance behind the popular phrase.

Thought leadership means having a reputation in the market as a company with unique, innovative, and important ideas about your industry, the forces shaping it, the challenges facing it, and the future awaiting it. As a thought leader, your company will gain credibility in the market and become a trusted advisor and partner. Potential customers will gravitate toward your products and services. Journalists will seek you out for quotes. Analysts will call you. Industry websites will link to you.

Thought leadership is especially important in B2B markets where the decision-making process can be long and complex, and involve multiple people who look at problems from various angles. But what every one of those people have are questions about the decisions they face. What they all need is an expert they can trust, someone (or company) who can demonstrate the knowledge and perspective to solve their problems. They need a thought leader.

Here’s how to be that thought leader that the market will turn to for expertise.

1. Focus on your audience
The number one attribute of thought leaders is they are able to provide answers to questions their audience has. Questions about approaches to solving problems. Questions about technology trends. Questions about industry best practices. Every industry is changing rapidly. Your audience has a multitude of questions that must be answered so they can make the right decisions about buying products or setting strategic direction. Answer those questions.

2. Sell ideas, not products
Your audience knows your company is in business to make a profit, but that doesn’t mean you should be trying at all times to be turning a profit. Before you can sell products and services, you need to be able to sell ideas. Offering intelligent, well-reasoned, and useful ideas is what will attract your audience. What will turn them off is trying to slip product pitches into articles, white papers, blog posts and other content that is allegedly educational in nature. Your audience will smell a rat.

3. Identify a niche
In this day of extreme market segmentation and specialization, the generalist thought leader is dead. The specialist survives. Choose a niche that is important to both your company and your audience. Focus on that arena to develop thought leadership. It’s best if you can choose a niche that is not already dominated by another company, so you can “own” the expertise. Putting your resources into one area of specialty means that you might have to sacrifice somewhere else. That’s okay because you’re choosing what’s most important to you and your audience. You’ll also be able to find targeted outlets—websites, e-publications, industry events—where you have a captive and motivated audience.

4. Give it time
More than most other initiatives, building a thought leadership platform takes time. Not only must you produce content to support your position, you must publish and distribute the content. You must participate in industry conferences and events. You must continue to repeat your position and perspective in order to be heard. All of this takes time—not days or weeks, but months and years. You don’t become a recognized thought leader overnight. The benefits are there, but they take time to accrue.

5. Educate and entertain
Your main goal is to educate your audience by being able to answer their questions and becoming a trusted resource. But you can’t do this with facts and figures alone. If you’re boring your audience won’t pay attention. In any communication today, there has to be some aspect of entertainment. But not dog and pony shows. Not juggling acts. The way to entertain is through stories: real-world experiences and anecdotes are the best ways to add entertainment to education. Get personal. Start sharing. Be human.

6. Don’t be a know-it-all
Being a thought leader doesn’t mean you know everything about a subject. And it definitely doesn’t mean you can predict the future with absolute accuracy. Instead it means you have enthusiasm for your subject matter. You have a vested interest in your industry niche. You are open to the possibilities the future may bring. You are able to admit you don’t know everything and at the same time you refuse to abandon your quest to advance the knowledge base in your industry.

7. Commit to producing and distributing content
There’s only one way to build your reputation: content. Your target audience is hungry for information. Thought leaders supply it. You should be pitching article ideas to relevant online publications in your industry and getting to know editors. You should also be moving forward with producing content on a regular basis in the form of blog posts, webinars, newsletters, white papers, videos and more. Distribute your thought leadership content on your website and through your social media platforms. Find a media partner with channels like e-newsletters, webinars, online events and banner advertisements that can help you distribute your content to a targeted and engaged audience.

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How to Give Your Content Marketing More Momentum

Most industrial marketers understand the importance of content marketing to help feed the industrial professional’s almost insatiable appetite for useful, relevant information. For that purpose you produce a steady stream of white papers, datasheets, how-to videos, webinars, social posts, technical articles and more.

But cranking out content just because content marketing is the thing to do won’t get you very far towards your goals. Your content marketing efforts should fit within a larger plan to build awareness and thought leadership, as well as to generate engagement opportunities.

To achieve these goals, you should check that all of your content meets these parameters:

  • Fits within the framework of the key positioning and messages you want to get across as a thought leader and industry expert. All of the content producers on your team should know the key messages and guidelines to follow.
  • Focuses on the informational needs of your target audience and is educational in nature, helping them do their jobs better. You may want to get across specific messages or positioning, but the content also has to be about your audience and what they want. When the two are the same, your company is in a sweet spot.
  • Is widely distributed and visible across those media channels used by your target audience. Your audience is online, using websites, search engines, email, video sharing sites, online catalogs, social networks and more. That’s where your content needs to be.
  • Is “actionable.”

By actionable we mean that your target audience can and will do something after consuming your content. This is one of the best ways to give your content marketing more momentum. The action could be a small step (get more content, re-think a position) or a large step (engage with your sales team, make a purchase), but the point is to help your customers and prospects move forward through the phases of their buy cycle.

Here are some tips to make your content marketing more actionable:

  • Make the next offer. For example, at the end of a white paper, promote a webinar that’s based on a related topic. In a blog post, link to other articles of interest. Add a link in a short video interview to a more in-depth case study. Think in terms of “if my audience likes X, then they should also be interested in Y.” Give them X, then offer them Y. The idea is to always be offering more, and making your audience want to say yes.
  • Create content that’s easy to share. Especially with complex industrial products, the buying cycle can be long and involve a number of decision makers, influencers and recommenders. Therefore, it’s important to make content easy to share among the decision-making team. Include a forwarding feature in emails. Make web pages that are easy to print, email and share. Don’t be shy about asking your audience to share and recommend content that they like.
  • Ask for interaction. Getting your audience involved helps boost the momentum of your content marketing, helping it reach farther and become more visible. Ask provocative questions about important industry topics on your blog or Facebook posts to get the conversation rolling. Take a stand on an issue and ask your audience for their opinion. Use polls on web pages and emails—and share the results.
  • Include contact information. You never know when your content might motivate a customer or prospect to contact you. That’s why you always need to provide a contact mechanism. It doesn’t have to be, and probably shouldn’t be, a hard call to action (Buy now! Call us today!), but it’s easy and non-aggressive to add a ‘For more info’ or ‘Have questions?’ or ‘Contact’ at the end of your content and put in an email address or phone number. It’s surprising how many marketers skip this step.

Content marketing is essential in today’s industrial marketplace. Make sure you do it with purpose and action in mind, and you will experience forward momentum.

Download IHS GlobalSpec’s complimentary white paper, Content Marketing for Industrial Marketers,  and get the information, inspirations and recommendations you need to develop or accelerate a winning content marketing strategy.

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Content Marketing: It’s a Matter of Trust (and Sales)

The Information Age has transformed your company’s prospects into savvy researchers and confident buyers. They are hungry for content and are finding plenty of online and offline outlets to satiate their appetites. While it may be true that more knowledgeable prospects are more difficult to sell to, providing them with the valuable, authoritative content they need to help solve their problems will position your company as an authority in the field, build trust with your prospects and, ultimately, make it easier to sell your products and services and to drive revenue.

What’s your take on content marketing? Check out the post and comment below.

Seeking Information
According to the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA), nearly two-thirds of business-to-business buyers (regardless of what product or service they plan to purchase) conduct their own research before contacting a vendor. Before they even pick up the phone to call you or send you an email, they likely know who you are, what you do and what you sell. This may be intimidating to some companies but a huge opportunity for others if a dynamic content marketing strategy has been implemented to attract, engage and inform your prospects.

Establishing Authority, Building Trust
Strong content marketing positions your company as a thought leader in your industry and helps you rise above your competitors. Going beyond simply discussing your products, effective content marketers also provide competitive analysis, industry trends, case studies, best practices and other materials that establish their companies as the expert and “go-to” resource for their types of solutions and services. For industrial suppliers that could also mean product specifications, CAD files, technical datasheets, a request for quotation form, searchable product catalogs, product availability, pricing information and part number search. Through content marketing, you have helped make your business prospects smarter and more knowledgeable about your industry, products, and services and have positioned yourself as the potential answer to their needs. You’ve also begun a relationship with them and can start fostering that critical – and often elusive – trust. Building a high level of confidence with your prospects isn’t simple and is more important than ever. This will lead to a greater comfort level with your company and make it easier for your prospects to buy from you.

Marketing Intelligently
Content marketing is cost effective, as materials can often be created in-house and used across multiple online and offline platforms. For example, you have produced a research report on the latest trends in your industry. A summary of your findings (linking back to the original report) can be part of an e-newsletter, posted to a company blog and distributed through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It can be the basis for an article that can be pitched to industry-specific magazines and turned into a print collateral piece for a direct mailing or trade show. An interview with the author of the report can be turned into a podcast or a short video for a YouTube channel. With one piece of content and a well-constructed strategy around it, you have delivered valuable information to your prospects where they are most likely to turn for these resources.

Driving Revenues
Ultimately, the reason why content marketing is an essential piece to your company’s strategy is revenue. You are placing your prospects in a better position to buy from you rather than your competitor by delivering the information they seek, becoming the authority they want and building the trust they need before making a purchasing decision.

Content Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General