First, let’s loosely define what “content marketing” is before it’s confused with what it definitely is not: a sales pitch. Content shared on your website that engages a viewer by informing or educating them on subject matter pertinent to their industry is one way to define it. Talking shop. Shooting the…erm…breeze. Content marketing involves the kind of stuff you talk about at a trade show when you’ve long completed your spiel and are finding common ground, maybe over a beer. It may have to do with the origins of a new product application overseas or complications that have arisen from a controversial environmental regulation. Any conversation related to one or more industries that engages everyone at once because it’s stepped outside the realm of the sales cycle and into the realm of universal relevance could be considered an industrial content marketing conversation.
As industrial marketers for almost 40 years, SMS has always sought to deeply understand our clients’ markets and become fluent in their language. When one of our account representatives sits down with a customer or prospect, we already have a clear idea about what a typical day for them is like. We can feel a product line manager’s pressure to meet corporate objectives while listening closely to engineering concerns about a proprietary product feature. A good account rep knows the products his clients are selling and how they’re differentiated in the marketplace but he or she also knows the often tortured path they took to get into that marketplace. That helps them write better content because they understand where the product solutions come from and how they improve processes and systems. The same should be true for companies who manufacture those products: they need to know about the everyday challenges and struggles of their prospects in order to engage them. You’ve probably figured out by now that that’s what it’s all about: engagement.
Good marketing gets your company’s products found; great marketing converts that discovery into sales. Sales are a result of prospects being thoroughly engaged over time, and effective content marketing makes them feel that way. Generally, “magic bullet” copy doesn’t exist, especially in B-2-B marketing. Instead, it’s important to generate content that hones in on their interests as well as their pain, and simply explaining all the intricate details of your carefully engineered product isn’t enough. Content of that nature is certainly necessary, and it may be full of keywords that boost your rankings – which is very good, as the use of search engines is still the #1 method employed by industrial shoppers to find the products and services they need – but if it doesn’t somehow address a bigger, deeper picture that attracts direct contact, there’s a danger of being well known but also well ignored.
According to Industrial Marketing Today, five common hurdles that prevent good content marketing messages are:
- Our Founder/President/Owner has a clear vision of his business but it is in his head. He finds it difficult to articulate it into written words and differentiate our company
- Our in-house subject matter experts (SMEs) know their technical stuff but are not good writers and they don’t have time for marketing
- We are afraid of giving away our trade secrets if we reveal too much in our online content
- We don’t want to give away free information. We want site visitors to call our sales people who will explain everything
- Freelancers don’t understand our customers and they lack the technical background to understand our business
That’s a pretty daunting list and it requires an industrial copywriting veteran to know how to work with these common and valid concerns. Because like it or not, content remains king. And if you know how to create and use it wisely, it can still be good to be the king.
– S. Norton
For more info on how you can affordably create effective content for your company through our experienced SMS staff, send an email to [email protected] and/or reply in the comments below.