"Content Marketing" seems to be the latest buzzword on the Manufacturing Marketing scene. Sure, you can search on your favorite search engine and get 100s of thousands of page hits.I just searched 'content marketing for manufacturing' on Google and returned 9 million results! In this post, I'll define and qualify the term, content marketing, in the context of a B2B manufacturing business. I'll also offer some ideas and concepts that will grow your business by getting more awareness and more leads.
When I ask manufacturing marketers if they are using content marketing as part of their marketing mix, most will answer "yes". When I press it a little further and ask them to describe their content marketing effort, most of them demur and say something about a recent white paper or product webinar. If you ask 10 manufacturing marketers to define content marketing, you will very likely get 10 different definitions.
This definition from the Content Marketing Institute is as close as we'll get to an official definition:
Content marketing is 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.
- Creating a white paper and posting it on your website is not content marketing.
- Starting a blog about your company news and new products is not content marketing.
- Any marketing tactic by itself, even if it shares valuable, relevant information is not content marketing.
These are some characteristics of content marketing:
- Purpose. The business strategy behind content marketing is that you give information to create a customer. You give information to the people in your target audience who can benefit from the value you offer. By sharing value, your firm gains awareness and credibility. When you have established these two outcomes, there is a high chance that you will get the business ahead of your competition who is not offering value.
- It is not. Content marketing is not about sharing information about your company's product or service. It's not blather about features and benefits. It's not about your particular technology. It's not a comparison of your product and competitors products. It's not a paper about why they should choose your product.
- It is. Content marketing shares information that helps the people in your target audience to be better at one aspect of their job or life. Some types of content that can be used in an overarching strategy:
- A paper about the science behind a certain technology
- A tutorial about how to improve a technical skill
- An infographic summarizing a complex issue in a simple way
- A webinar or blog post clearly defining content marketing
- A seminar about industry regulations. For example, a company that sells hygrometers might offer a paper or a webinar about how people who rely on accurate measurements could improve their measurement practices.
- Why should a manufacturer care? Many manufacturing marketers out there in the blogosphere may be asking the question, "What's in it for me? Why should I give away all this free information that I or my firm spends so much money to acquire or develop? Won't my competitors get hold of it and use it against me?" The short answer is audience ENGAGEMENT. Successful manufacturers are growing their businesses in the double digit range by engaging early and often with an identified target group. The firms that are able to offer high value content with no strings attached are establishing relationships with the very people who will eventually be in a position to buy your product.
Helpful information will get you engagement. Features, benefits and self-centered content will get you ignored.
- TOMA. Content marketing achieves Top of Mind Awareness throughout the minds of your target audience. TOMA means that when the day arrives (for a person or a company) when the person decides to make a purchase of the thing that you are offering, your brand is the first thing that comes to their mind and your brand has already established a certain level of credibility or trust, thanks to your comprehensive content marketing strategy.
For a more comprehensive understanding about content marketing, check out Joe Pulizzi's book, Epic Content Marketing.