Industrial Marketing Blog

Content Marketing Challenges for Industrial Distributors

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Industrial distributors face a unique set of challenges when it comes to content marketing. These companies have traditionally depended on the depth and breadth of their line cards to highlight their strengths and sell industrial products.

In the past, their marketing content came straight from the manufacturers they represented. You will find the exact same product content on sites of various distributors serving a particular industry. They’ve never had to create and publish their own content before.

The problem is republishing the same manufacturer’s content won’t help your SEO or add any value for your customers and neither will it help to differentiate one industrial distributor from another.

Industrial buyers today don’t respond well to traditional marketing tactics anymore. They want to do a large part of their research by using general search engines like Google or industry verticals like or visiting the supplier’s website. (See my previous post, “Social Media Usage by Engineers and Industrial Professionals.”)

Many industrial distributors have moved a large part of their business online by using eCommerce. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a big part of their digital marketing initiatives for driving sales. The problem is it is expensive and not sustainable unless supported by other marketing strategies such as inbound marketing with content.

Joe Pulizzi (@juntajoe) in his blog post, “Content Marketing: Why You Should Buy Value Instead of Leasing It” explained the difference very well. He refers to outbound marketing such as PPC as “leasing” whereas creating your own content is like “buying.”

How can industrial distributors use content marketing?

I can write volumes about how industrial distributors can and should use content marketing. Instead of an industrial marketing consultant like me telling you about it; let me give you two real-world examples of how it is done.

  1. DigiKey is an authorized distributor of electronic components for more than 600 industry-leading suppliers and is one of the fastest growing distributors of electronic components in the world. Visit their Resources, TechZonesm, TechExchangesm Community and Supply Chain These sections of their site are well-stocked (pun intended) with useful content that is much more than product features and specifications.
  2. Grainger (W.W. Grainger, Inc.) with 2012 sales of $9 billion is North America’s leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products, with expanding global operations. Take a look at their Resources section. They have way too many content categories for me to list here.

What can you do if you are not the 800-pound gorilla of your industry like the above two examples? Inbound or content marketing can actually help you even more by generating high quality leads at a lower cost per lead.

Here are two direct quotes about content marketing and marketing automation. I really like these and believe in them.

  • Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki), Former Chief Evangelist, Apple Co-Founder, Alltop.Com — “If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.”
  • Jon Miller (@jonmiller), Marketo’s VP of Marketing Content and Strategy – “Dream big, start small, fast wins.”

Adding a WordPress blog to your industrial site doesn’t take too much money and can pay very rich dividends for organic SEO and lead generation. Then use relevant content to nurture leads and turn site traffic into sales opportunities at a lower cost instead of continuing to spend a lot of money on one-off traditional marketing tactics.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that you abandon those marketing tactics. On the contrary, I am suggesting that you use both by reallocating your marketing budget between inbound marketing with content and traditional marketing. (See my post “Traditional Marketing is Alive and Well for Industrial Companies.” )

I would like to hear from industrial distributors. How are you using content marketing?

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.
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Achinta,

    I’ve been devouring the content of your posts after finding your blog just today. Interestingly, in this post, you cite Guy Kawasaki’s post about brains, money and inbound marketing. I saw that quote for the first time today (a coincidence I jokingly refer to as a “twofer”). It rings very true.

    As a marketing consultant and long-time business blogger, I wholeheartedly agree with your argument that content drives the web and urge industrial companies to heed your advice.

    • @Paul,

      Thanks lot your kind words and the vote of confidence. I’m glad you found my blog. Guy Kawasaki sums it up nicely and drives home the point brilliantly with his quote.

  2. Great post Achinta. So true. I would add industrial distributors because of the factors you allude to also struggle with branding their businesses as they should. I added the following guest post to Joe Pulizzi’s post you refer to above.

    “I work with industrial marketers and maybe your analogy can get them to understand the value of content distribution/marketing on the web. My only addition would be to make sure the brand message is done well to begin with. In other words, what would make a prospect select your company over the competitors? What makes your business…truly…different? (And “price, service, quality” do not count!) Once the brand message is clear then the entire marketing mix flows much easier…including the content you deploy on the web”.

    • @Tom,

      Thanks for the compliment and for adding your comments about branding challenges for industrial distributors.

  3. Great post Achinta

    What I like about your examples is that these websites provide volumes of useful content without a blog. They answer questions, demonstrate applications and provide support information around the products they sell.

    Too many industrial marketers get bogged down with the idea of creating a blog, when in fact, what they need to do is develop a more comprehensive and informational website. They need to serve up information people are looking for.

    • @Bob,

      Thanks for your comments. What matters most is relevant content for visitors and customers. It doesn’t matter if that is on a blog and/or the main site.

Ready to Start a Conversation?

Let’s start with a free 30-minute consultation to determine if this will be a good fit for both of us. It will be a friendly chat to get to know each other better, not a high-pressure sales pitch.

Post Categories