For those of us who have been in the marketing arena for some years, we have seen a lot of change. Without a doubt, social media has been a game changer. I recently read that social media users around the world will expand from 2.1 billion to 2.5 billion by 2018. Whether we like it or not, the way prospective customers consume content has changed. Instead of a reading a brochure or chatting with a sales rep on the phone, target audiences are browsing websites, LinkedIn profiles, blogs, and other digital content. The tactic that manufacturers have added to their marketing tool kit to manage this paradigm shift in communication is the use of content marketing.
In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute's "B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends - North America"report, 82 percent of manufacturers are using content marketing. For clarification purposes, what is content marketing anyway?
Content marketing is creating and distributing information your target audience finds valuable.
Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Yes and no. The goal of content marketing is to find the best ways to engage and build a relationship with your target market. Patiently and systematically, you escort them down the sales funnel to ultimately become a customer. When they become a customer, remind them why. The challenge is figuring out which formats fits your marketing strategies and the manufacturing eyeballs of your audience. There are a lot of options including a website blog, LinkedIn posts, articles, videos, white papers, ebooks, enewsletters, and the use of other social media like LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.
So, if manufacturing companies are adding content marketing to their integrated marketing programs, what are some of the results of their efforts? What value is there to incorporate content marketing into your company's marketing strategy? The above-referenced report by the Content Marketing Institute provides some interesting "behind the curtain" stats on what your fellow manufacturers are doing with content marketing. Consider the following:
- 74 percent of manufacturers plan to produce more content in 2016
- In the 60th percentile and above, some of the marketing tactics used include blogs, white papers, articles, and case studies
- 89 percent of manufacturers use illustrations, photos, and video in their content
- 86 and 87 percent, respectively, use the LinkedIn and YouTube platforms
- 82 percent have one content subscription offer (typically an enewsletter)
Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, stated that, "Content marketing has been around since, well, forever, it is a new approach for most manufacturing organizations." It is this new approach that can be an incredibly valuable resource for manufacturers. In fact, let me now list the 15 reasons manufacturers are using content marketing and ways they are finding it worth the investment:
- Increase sales to the bottom line
- Means to stand out from the competition
- Brand awareness of both the company and its executive team
- Customer retention by offering quality information to solve their problems
- Nurture leads
- Engage new audiences
- Lead generation
- Create brand advocates via current customers
- Highlight customer testimonials
- Promote upcoming events and report on recent events
- Provide tools and resources
- Respond to common customer and/or industry questions
- Provide educational content about the industry and trends
- Create how-to content to showcase individual and/or company expertise
- Content remains available while advertising has a short shelf life
As you can see from the list above, content marketing can be a powerful tactic for getting out your message. The value of a multiplicity of content options like LinkedIn posts and case studies give manufacturers a range of choices to test and refine the best approaches for a maximum return-on-investment. It can also be confusing to figure out what you should do with the limited time and budgets available to most manufacturing executives. Remember, Google likes content. If you are doing nothing, I think the answer is simple then.
Has your manufacturing company used content marketing tactics? What has worked for you?
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