The boy stood on the edge of the dock staring into the blue lake. His friends were already in the water, splashing around and having fun. But he was nervous to dive in. Would the water be cold? What lay beneath the surface? If his jump looked awkward, would everyone laugh? What if his bathing suit came off?
Finally, with the encouragement of his buddies – along with the nagging feeling that he was missing out on something great – he made the leap. To be honest, his first attempt was a bit clumsy. But the more he practiced, the better and more creative his jumps became. By the end of the summer, he was doing flips.
While you may be cheering for this boy who overcame his fears, you’re probably wondering what it has to do with B2B content marketing. Fair question.
Take the Content Marketing Plunge
Like the boy in our story, there are some manufacturers who are either unsure of how to get started with content marketing or fearful of investing resources in content marketing versus traditional advertising or promotion. For those who are testing the waters, there is still room for improvement.
According to CMI’s latest report on B2B content marketing trends, 89% of B2B marketers are using content marketing. That’s great news. However, only 28% of those companies consider themselves proficient. And, that leaves 11% of B2B companies who are still hesitant to take the plunge.
But, it’s worth the effort. Customers in every industry are more comfortable doing their own research prior to engaging with a sales rep. They review 10-12 sources before contacting a company.1 On average, B2B customers are already 57% of the way through the decision process before they take action (Forrester). These educated customers are looking for vendors who understand their pain points and meet their unique needs.
How do you reach this new breed of decision makers? With content marketing, which is defined as “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.”
Improve Your Form
The key is to influence prospects at many points throughout the buying process with rich, relevant content that offers solutions to their problems or answers their questions. Effective content marketing nurtures customers along the path to purchase, from building awareness to creating loyalty after purchase. Whether you’ve already dipped your toes in the content marketing waters and are looking to improve your strategy, or you’re still on the edge of the dock, here are few things to consider:
- Focus on what sets you apart. It’s easy to find multiple vendors through a simple Internet search. So, it’s more important than ever to tell your company’s unique story – especially if pricing in your industry is very competitive. What is your value proposition? Have you invested in new equipment which gives you an advantage in speed, accuracy or cost? Have you shortened lead times? Do you provide custom products or adjust quickly to special requests? How do you make life easier for customers (unsurpassed service, a dedicated product manager)? Create content that differentiates your company and your products.
- Let satisfied customers speak for you with testimonials or case studies. Nothing is more convincing than a job well done. This is particularly effective when buyers are considering a large investment or complicated purchase. Give buyers the proof they need to convince their boss (often the final decision maker or influencer) that your product is the best choice. (For more on buyers vs. influencers, read “Why Creating Content for Buyers and Influencers is Key.”)
- Gear your message to what your customers truly care about. You may have superior products, but if potential customers see short lead times and on-time delivery as the top priority that’s the message you need to convey. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them.
- Target your audience where they hang out, and no, we don’t mean the golf course. Remember, your buyers are human, and like most humans these days, they are probably online – especially younger buyers. They are more likely than their predecessors to be on social media and business platforms, such as Linkedin – which is where your content needs to be.
- Educate your prospects. B2B companies tend to produce more complex products, which requires a higher degree of education prior to purchase. Provide educational blogs, white papers and how-to videos to position yourself as an industry expert and help guide buyers to your door. This type of content can also reach influencers, which, in turn, gets relayed to buyers.
- Show off a little. Too often, we see manufacturers who have updated their facilities, invested in new equipment and offer innovative solutions, but have websites and content that don’t reflect the company’s progress. Be sure to update your website and other communication with prospects, along with your equipment and capabilities.
Grab a Life Raft
With most of your competitors using content marketing and finding ways to target communications with tools such as marketing automation, you can’t afford not to dive in and learn a few new strokes. If you’re not sure where to start (or keep hearing the theme to Jaws in your head), let us offer you a life raft. From content strategy and development, to targeted delivery and analytics, we provide one-stop content marketing solutions.
For more information, call Kevin Anger at 734-531-7600 or drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1”The Evolution of Manufacturing Marketing and How it Changed Sales,” by Jason Plavic, Advance Ohio, 2016.