You first heard about inbound marketing for manufacturing a few years ago at an industry conference. It was the big buzz—the magic bullet that would fill your CRM with so many hot leads you’d have to double your sales team just to keep up.
You were thrilled at the prospect of outshining your competition online, overflowing your sales pipeline and sharing your expertise with an eager audience. So you set up a blog. You started publishing posts about your innovative products, created a few downloadable pieces of content and began emailing your customers regularly—just like all the top content marketing gurus said you should.
It was time-consuming and labor-intensive. But you’d been promised it would work, so you waited. And waited.
But nothing happened.
Your marketing reporting shows no legions of interested prospects, no colossal spike in traffic—not even so much as a comment on a blog post. And now, after all the time, money and effort you’ve spent on content marketing with little to no traction, you’re beginning to have your doubts.
Who could blame you? After all, nobody likes spending their most valuable resources on something that doesn’t work.
But before you throw in the towel on your manufacturing content marketing endeavor and let all that hard work go to waste, let’s take a quick look at why exactly your content may not be converting like you expect.
Sorry to be so frank, but boring manufacturing content is one of the top reasons your audience bails. Sure, they probably don’t expect Pulitzer Prize-winning prose or videos directed by Steven Spielberg, but they do expect to be entertained or, at the very least, interested.
More often than not, they’re going to be reading this while stretched out on the couch at home or over a sandwich at lunchtime. Drop the dull professional speak and pages of product specs and, instead, communicate human-to-human.
Take, for example, this easy-to-watch introduction to 3D printer manufacturing company Stratasys:
Your product is revolutionary and best-in-class. Your team is composed of the most brilliant minds in your industry. You increased revenue by 20 percent last year. Good job, you!
But here’s a secret: Your customer doesn’t really care about all of that stuff. Plus, their attention span is really short. Bells and whistles are nice to know, but what they really care about is how your product is going to affect their ability to reach goals. Instead of talking about your own accomplishments, share case studies and customer success stories that prove to prospects the real value of your product.
You know that friend who’s always the last to discover something? Only, he doesn’t realize he’s behind the times and he’s always super excited to share what he thinks is breaking news.
Don’t be that guy.
If something has already been covered on 12 other sites, it doesn’t mean it’s trending—it means it’s tired. If you can’t find a fresh spin or a new angle that’s both relevant and interesting to your audience, let it go.
Let’s say you manufacture commercial lighting systems, and you’ve recently published a well-researched, well-written article on the various types of LED bulbs. Great! Now what?
You can’t expect your prospects to know the next logical step. (Remember what I said about short attention spans?) Instead, you have to gently guide them onto the next step. End your brilliant post with a powerful CTA leading them to download your guide about energy-efficient lighting systems. And, at the end of the guide, provide a CTA to contact a local sales rep.
Define your path first, then make sure it’s crystal clear for your audience.
Imagine meeting up with someone you’d matched with on an online dating app. As soon as you sit down, they ask rapid-fire questions about your personal life and want you to meet their parents.
Your first instinct would likely be to run far away, delete your profile and maybe even file a restraining order.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly how your prospects feel when you ask for too much, too soon. Inbound marketing is all about slowly building relationships based on trust. And in the manufacturing industry, relationships are everything—they’re your key to ongoing business, referrals and an improved reputation. Don’t blow it by asking for the sale after the first interaction, or asking for 10 pieces of contact information to download their first e-book.
Even the most enthralling content and tantalizing offers won’t bring in a single lead if you aren’t addressing the right audience. If your content is falling flat, it may be time to readdress your buyer personas to ensure you’re targeting the right decision makers.
Talk to your sales reps to determine who is their main point of contact throughout the sales process. Interview current clients to find out which one of their team members made the first connection. The better you understand the primary buyers and influencers, the better you can tailor your content to their specific pain points.
If you’re doing all of the above and still not bringing in enough traffic and qualified leads to yield a significant ROI, it could be because no one is seeing your content. In other words, just because you publish a blog post, video, infographic or e-book doesn’t mean it’ll automatically find its way to your prospects like a heat-seeking missile.
Instead you have to make sure your content is optimized for search engines, regularly shared across social media platforms and distributed as part of paid demand generation campaigns. Once your high-quality content reaches the right audience, it’ll begin doing its job.
Manufacturing content marketing is a unique beast. To be successful, you must walk a fine line between sharing the value of your products and addressing persona pain points while simultaneously building strong, mutually beneficial relationships. If you’re not seeing a return on your resource investment, try the strategies above. The great thing about content marketing is even a small tweak to your offerings can drive a big increase in conversions.
When it comes to inbound marketing for manufacturing, it’s not always easy to find a partner who understands your industry—but we do. Learn more about the Kuno Creative manufacturing inbound marketing process now.
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