More and more research in the industrial sector is being conducted online. There’s a study of 2015 digital media use in the industrial sector published by the firm IHS Engineering360, for instance, which found that 77 percent of engineers use digital media to find parts, services and suppliers. So, as we at Gorilla76 recently wrote in a blog, your online industrial marketing efforts should be prioritized accordingly.
But what does such a shift look like and where does it begin? Does it entail hiring an advertising agency to produce polished banner ads for your favorite trade publication? I’d suggest step one is a little easier to execute, and that you’re already in possession of all the tools you need to get started. Though a shiny new website or a banner ad on your favorite trade publication’s website might turn out to be good tactics further down the line, they should be built on a solid foundation of well-researched, informative content living on your site.
The importance of content to online industrial marketing
As the post I linked to above lays out in detail, informative content is the linchpin of an effective online industrial marketing strategy. While I definitely recommend checking out the entirety of that post, I’ll try to summarize here:
- Your customers are looking for answers online. The above study, as well as data from search engines like Bing and Google, proves it. When you provide answers to those questions in the place your customers are looking (the web), you become associated with the experts.
- If the information you’re providing is valuable enough (a product catalog, for instance), your customers in the research phase will be willing to give you something for it, an email address or a little more information about their needs, say.
- Buyers remember where they found answers in the past and are more likely to return to those sources. Like a predator revisiting fertile hunting grounds, online researches develop favored sources of information. In the online industrial marketing landscape, reliable sources of informative content become favored hunting grounds.
- When those researches arrive at the right moment to buy, they remember where they were able to find answers in the past.
Here’s how to get started producing content for online industrial marketing
As mentioned, while content-driven online industrial marketing strategy may require a little legwork on behalf of your company, you’re already in possession of all you need to get started. Here’s how:
Leverage the experts
Your work is complicated. We live in a high-tech society, and the days of the donkey-powered gristmill have come and gone. Chances are, you deal in complicated machinery or nuanced services or highly specialized manufacturing operations. Even if you’re not selling something complicated, chances are your industry is governed by complex regulations or subject to exacting professional oversight organizations.
On the bright side, no one understands these complicated concepts better than your own employees. The expertise is already in-house. Whether it’s an engine manufacturing specialist or the person in charge of making those engines comply with industry standards, the experts are in your office. Seek them out. Talk to them. Talk to them until it no longer sounds like they’re speaking a foreign language. And then practice turning what you’ve learned into a language those researching online can understand.
Ask all of your customers this one simple question
“What’s your biggest problem with [your industry, product, service, etc.]?”
Start here. Pinpointing your customers’ main pain points, and then creating informative content that helps them to circumvent those issues is the surest way to wind up on their good side. It’s also the surest way to make sure that they find you.
To use an example from our own work, a client’s industry was faced with some complicated new EPA emissions standards due to be enacted by the end of 2015. It was the question on everyone’s mind, so the company anticipated the need for answers and began to provide them themselves. Anticipating the demand for information, they began to produce helpful online content like blog posts, infographics and downloadable white papers, hoping to become the definitive source for information on the EPA’s regulations. All because they know what their industry was struggling with. This consultative marketing approach really works.
Keep the information pipeline flowing
Your customers and the experts within your company already hold the keys to an effective online industrial marketing strategy. All it takes is the legwork to package that information in a helpful, easy-to-understand way. But researchers don’t become buyers because they once found the answer to a question they had on a website. They become buyers once a seller has gained their trust by showing themselves to be industry thought leaders. And, of course, content can’t close deals for you. That’s what your talented sales team is for. What consistent content can do for you, though, is help to get you to a spot where your sales team is talking with potential customers directly. Taken as a whole, you’ve already got all the tools you need to repeat as necessary.
Kyle Fiehler is a writer at Gorilla 76, a B2B marketing agency specializing in inbound marketing for the industrial sector. Gorizza76 helps manufacturers, industrial service providers, distributors, builders and their subcontractors grow their businesses online.