For many years, companies in the manufacturing industry conducted their marketing initiatives in the traditional manner. They pushed out print advertising, direct mail, trade shows, public relations and more and hoped for a good return on their investment. Tradition was everything.
Today, however, manufacturers and industrial companies are jumping on the content marketing wagon not only because it is so much less expensive to produce and execute, but also because the return is so much greater.
Getting started with content marketing can seem overwhelming, however, but it doesn’t have to be when a few principles are understood.
What is content marketing?
Sometimes it helps to understand what content marketing is by talking about what it isn’t. Content marketing is not traditional advertising and promotions that are created and pushed out to a target audience. In contrast, content marketing works on the principle of pulling targeted prospects and customers to you through substantive content including white papers, case studies, articles, blogs, videos and more.
This is especially appropriate and relevant for industrial businesses where the sales cycle is typically longer than in other industries. The volume of content that satisfies prospect questions about solutions works directly to support prospect needs.
Where to start with content marketing?
The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to create a content marketing program all at once. Inbound marketing is a dynamic process and content can always be created and re-purposed to keep your program fresh.
There are, however, some fundamentals that are critical to a hard-working content marketing program:
- Website. Your website is the hub of your content marketing program. This is where all of your content will reside and in many cases, you’ll drive people back to view content housed on your site. If it’s been awhile since your site has had a makeover, it’s a good idea to connect with a content marketing agency to help you determine where your website is working and where it may need some updating. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to visit your site with a critical eye every six months to make sure it’s current and it’s keeping up with digital marketing trends. The goal is to inform visitors and make the experience as easy as possible for them to learn about you and your solutions.
- Content marketing strategy. Defining your goals will drive how you roll out content for your business. Do you want to prioritize leads? Are you interested in creating a thought leadership position? There’s no right or wrong answer. Understand what is important to your business today—and long term—and work toward those goals.
- Review current content. You may be further along in the content marketing process than you think just by having various communications assets already created. Product brochures, data sheets, case studies, etc. all have a place in a content marketing program.
- Work the funnel. The visitors to your site will be in various stages of interest in your business and solutions. They’ll range from merely interested to engaged and ready to purchase. Understanding this will help you create varying levels of content to meet those different needs.
Content marketing will bring great advantages to a manufacturing business but it’s important to remember that it’s not a set-it-and-forget it proposition. Interactions with prospects and customers is a dynamic process and staying current with content will position you as innovative and someone ready to do business.