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Content Marketing Must Go Beyond Inbound Marketing in Industrial Sales

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There is quite a bit of confusion among my industrial clients about the terms Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing. For many, the two are synonymous and it is just a matter of semantics. IMO, Content Marketing goes well beyond Inbound Marketing.

The classic definition of Inbound Marketing focuses on the top of the sales funnel (ToFU) and is built on the principle of being found in search engines and social media, attracting traffic and converting visitors into leads with relevant content. All worthwhile goals and takes a lot of hard work to accomplish them. However, you are likely to be very disappointed if your industrial marketing stayed focused only on ToFU.

I prefer the broader definition of Content Marketing because it addresses every phase of the buyer’s journey, both before and after the sale. I found a very fitting football analogy by Joe Pulizzi (@juntajoe) – the Founder of the Content Marketing Institute and the author of the books Managing Content Marketing and Get Content Get Customers, in a blog post Joe wrote, “If content marketing were a football field, inbound marketing would get you to the 35-yard line. Definitely critical, but hard to score from that distance.”

Content Marketing Infographic

I couldn’t agree more with that statement. In a twist of irony, I along with many Houstonians and football pundits across the nation believe that the Houston Texans’ inability to score more touchdowns rather than settling for field goals when in the Red Zone was one of their chief downfalls this year. Oh well!

In all fairness to Brian Halligan (@bhalligan) – CEO and Co-founder of HubSpot who is credited with popularizing the term Inbound Marketing, he has broadened his definition to put more focus on the middle of the funnel (MoFu). In several articles that I have read, he is reported as saying, “Inbound marketing 2.0 will transform the middle of the funnel. The next wave is not around the top of the funnel and getting found by more people, but in improving the conversion from the top to the middle and the bottom of the funnel.”

Now we are getting a lot closer to what content marketing should be. Many B2B marketers also agree and believe in the power of Content Marketing. The BtoB Magazine’s 2012 B2B Content Marketing: Ready for Prime Time report found that 34% of the respondents are “very” or “fully” engaged with content marketing as compared to only 18% last year. This chart from the same report illustrates the key drivers of Content Marketing.

Key Drivers of Content Marketing (BtoB Online)

That doesn’t mean that manufacturers are jumping on the Content Marketing bandwagon en masse. Many are still sitting on the fence. For more on this, read my post, “Are Manufacturers Turning a Deaf Ear to Content Marketing?” The comments left by others provide additional insights.

For more ideas on how Content Marketing can help your industrial sales, refer to some of my posts on this topic.

Let me hear your thoughts on how Content Marketing has helped drive industrial sales for your company.

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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  1. Prithvi says:

    thanks you sir for posting such a beautiful thought about Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing. It is just like a beautifully easiest tutorial for me, for this i got a nice concept for marketing.
    Thank you!

  2. Edwin Vlems says:


    I am planning an English translation, but it’s hard to motivate myself for it…


  3. Edwin Vlems says:

    Great article Achinta, exactly how I feel! It is the reason that I wrote the book ‘REAL Inbound Marketing’ (alas, only in Dutch at the moment), because I believe in Inbound Marketing but not the way that Hubspot brings it: as another way to drag ‘prospects’ (I saw them the other day, it were just people) through ‘funnels’. In this interesting article, David Edelman shows that the ‘sales funnel’ is already deceased:

    As I see it, REAL Inbound Marketing is broader than content marketing, because it requires you to not only use knowledge as a magnet for customers, but also your personality (through social media)

    • Achinta Mitra says:


      Thanks for the compliment and for sharing your insights.
      Are you planning on an English translation for your book? I’m interested.
      I liked David Edelman’s concept of consumer decision journey (CDJ). Thanks for the link.

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