Industrial Marketing Blog

How manufacturers can use content for differentiation

How Manufacturers Can Use Content for Differentiation and Create a Competitive Edge

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Using content for differentiation of your manufacturing company can be a powerful marketing strategy. Across various industries where global competition is fierce, finding ways to set your company apart from competitors is crucial.

This goes beyond just marketing tactics and carries real-world significance. When companies have similar value propositions, creating real differentiation that doesn’t come across as a mere imitation or can be easily replicated by the competition allows you to stand out and establish a unique selling proposition. Doing so can attract potential customers, expand your market share, and ultimately drive business growth.

Those are lofty goals for industrial content marketing. You’ll need strategic planning, diligently executing the strategy, and measuring results regularly to achieve those goals. The more successful manufacturing content marketers almost always focus on quality content over quantity.

80% of those who always/frequently differentiate their content said they do so by producing better quality content than their competitors. (Source).

quality content for differentiation

The Power of Content for Differentiating Your Brand

To use content for differentiation, you have to take several steps. This post is written for manufacturing content marketers who are not well-versed in marketing to engineers and technical professionals. There is nothing to be ashamed of; marketing to engineers is different and can be challenging.

Identify Your Target Audience

Determine who your ideal customers are and what their needs and pain points are. This will help you create content that resonates with them.

It would help if you went deeper than industry classifications and company size. You want to identify who within those niches you want to target (Job Titles, role in the buying decision – Specifier vs. Functional Buyer).

Many marketing consultants will advise you to interview your top 10 customers. There is nothing wrong with that per se; however, your favorite customers already like you and do business with you. These are not prospects that you need to win over.

Talk to your sales team and ask them about the objections they heard from leads that seemed promising but never closed. Combine this information with what you learned about from the loyal customers. This will provide a more complete picture of your target audience.

Understand Your Unique Value Proposition

To stand out from the competition, your manufacturing company must identify and emphasize what sets it apart from others in the industry. This could be a variety of factors, ranging from your expertise and experience in the field to the exceptional quality of your products.

Product features and specifications are essential because they show your products meet the technical requirements, but those alone are not enough.

Highlighting any innovative approaches or technologies you utilize in your manufacturing processes can showcase your company’s commitment to staying ahead of the curve. You must be careful not to give away proprietary information and/or the company’s IP.

Another aspect that can separate your business is exceptional customer service, which allows you to build long-lasting relationships with your customers and establish a positive reputation. You can’t just say, “We offer exceptional customer service.” You have to prove it to the skeptical audience.

For example, you can say:

  • We offer a 24/7 emergency call number where a technically competent person will answer
  • We can deploy a crew to your jobsite or plant within 24 hours
  • We have a searchable knowledge base of common troubleshooting questions
  • Our online video library has many how-to videos for field repairs (Field MRO people may not have a say in the initial purchase but can make or break repeat orders) 

The key is to identify and effectively communicate the unique aspects of your business to potential customers. This strategic approach is essential for ensuring your company’s continued success and growth.

Showcase Your In-house Expertise

Use content to demonstrate your expertise in your industry. Bring your in-house Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to the forefront. As a content marketer, you are responsible for extracting the key talking points from your SMEs and expanding them into cohesive, customer-centric content that addresses the audience’s challenges. Don’t ask them to write the content for you.

Have the SME review and vet your draft and publish it under their names. One engineer to another is a powerful strategy and lends credibility to your content. This could involve sharing success stories, highlighting your team’s qualifications, or providing thought leadership content. (See Industrial Blogging Lessons Learned from Working with Technical SMEs).

Educational Content and Thought Leadership

This could include blog posts, case studies, whitepapers, videos, infographics, or technical articles published in well-known industry portals and publications. Manufacturing blogging is an excellent channel for this. Focus on creating content that educates and informs your target audience.

You should share industry insights, best practices, tips, and tutorials about your manufacturing niche.

Regularly creating and publishing technical blog posts is challenging for many manufacturing content marketers, especially those just starting out. If you are in this situation, consider outsourcing your manufacturing blog creation. Learn from them until you feel confident about writing them yourself.

59% of manufacturers outsource at least one marketing activity. Last year’s survey found content creation was the most outsourced activity at 80%.

However, it is not just a matter of finding low-cost freelance copywriters from one of the many services out there. The two biggest challenges were finding partners with adequate technical knowledge and understanding the target audience’s mindset. (Technical Content Writing is Challenging for Manufacturing Marketers).

Leverage Customer Testimonials and Case Studies

Incorporate customer testimonials to build trust and credibility. This can help potential customers see the real-world benefits of working with your company. The problem you may face is that many customers tend to shy away from endorsing any vendor. You have to work at it and assure your customers you won’t misuse or abuse their trust when they agree to provide a testimonial. A video testimonial will provide a level of authenticity that is hard to get from written text.

Case studies are powerful content assets as assurance for your potential customers that your company knows its stuff and has “Been There Done That.”

Sometimes, NDAs can make it difficult to name names, but there are legal ways to overcome those hurdles.

Leveraging the persuasive power of customer testimonials and case studies is a highly effective strategy to build trust and credibility, ultimately driving the success and growth of your manufacturing business.

Don’t Forget About Organic SEO

With social media garnering all the attention these days, it is easy to think that organic SEO for manufacturers is dead. Nothing could be further from the truth. After all, your audience has to find your content before they can read it.

Make sure you’ve optimized your content for search engines by using relevant keywords and meta tags. This will help your content rank higher in search engine results and attract organic traffic. Use strategic internal links to drive readers deeper into your site and improve engagement. It also helps with your SEO.

A word of advice—Don’t rely 100% on organic SEO. Promote your content by sharing your posts and other new content through various channels, such as your social media platforms, email newsletters, and industry forums. Engage with your audience and encourage them to share your content with others.

Measure, Refine, and Repeat

Track the performance of your content using analytics tools. Monitor metrics such as website traffic, engagement, conversions, and customer feedback. Use this data to refine your content strategy and make improvements over time.

Engagement metrics reveal user interaction with your content, such as time on site, pages per visit, and bounce rate, helping you identify engaging content and areas for improvement. Similarly, tracking conversions—like newsletter sign-ups, purchases, or form submissions—is vital to understanding what drives users to act and enhance your site’s conversion process.

Remember that discovery optimization (SEO) differs from conversion optimization (CRO).

It is tempting to start with step 1 in this post. Before implementing any content marketing tactics, you should develop a content marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals. It will provide you with a clear roadmap to success.

Without it, you may get frustrated with the lack of results and find it difficult to prove ROI to upper management.

We at Tiecas take a strategy-first approach before implementing any hit-or-miss tactics. Take a look at our process to learn from it.

Developing a content marketing strategy first and following these steps, you can use content to differentiate your manufacturing company and attract customers who value your unique offerings.

Achinta Mitra

Achinta Mitra calls himself a “marketing engineer” because he combines his engineering education and an MBA with 35+ years of practical manufacturing and industrial marketing experience. You want an expert with an insider’s knowledge and an outsider’s objectivity who can point you in the right direction immediately. That's Achinta. He is the Founder of Tiecas, Inc., a manufacturing marketing agency in Houston, Texas. Read Achinta's story here.
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