Industrial Marketing Blog

Content – The Biggest Hurdle in Digital Marketing for Manufacturers

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Most manufacturers of industrial products agree that digital marketing is essential for their success now and going forward. Yet, many of these industrial companies are struggling to implement digital marketing because of  lack of relevant content.

At first glance, that may sound like an oversimplification of a bigger problem.

I talk to small and mid-sized manufacturers on a regular basis. What I have learned is that these companies need help with content in digital marketing at many levels.

This is not a new problem. You can read some of my earlier posts on inbound and content marketing for manufacturers and industrial companies.

Manufacturers are dealing with some big issues when it comes to content for digital marketing. Here are the ones that I have discovered:

  • Most manufacturers have been predominantly sales oriented in the past. They have become completely dependent on referrals and repeat business. As a result, the owners and decision makers at these companies are having a difficult time wrapping their heads around the concept of proactively using content to attract qualified prospects instead of sales initiating the contact and using content only on an “as needed” basis.
  • The traditional mindset at many of these companies is that marketing’s primary role is sales support. As a result, the content that they do have is of the one-size-fits-all variety. Existing marketing collateral focuses primarily on the company and its products. It is a major hurdle for them to customize their content for different stakeholders and make it relevant for different stages of the prospect’s/customer’s buying cycle.
  • Other than a few case studies and some application notes, new content must be created to put the focus more on the customer’s pain points. Most manufacturers don’t have the in-house resources for this task and budgets are too tight to outsource. Compounding the problem is the fact that they have been burned before by consultants and copywriters who were clueless about engaging with an audience of engineers and industrial professionals.
  • I have been asked a few times to scan old product datasheets because that’s all that a particular manufacturer had for collateral. The content was so outdated that it was missing several sizes, options and accessories that this manufacturer had been selling for a couple of years. Their call to action was asking site visitors to call the toll-free number in order to get the latest information. That digital marketing strategy is doomed to fail even before it gets off the ground.
  • It is true that a manufacturer’s website is the hub of its online presence. Unfortunately, redesigning a company website is not the be-all and end-all of digital marketing. Keeping it current with fresh content is a stumbling block for them. And it is not just a matter of building a content management system (CMS); they just don’t have the time, expertise and the desire to continuously publish content.

This post is not meant to be a criticism of the current state of manufacturing marketing. My intent is to highlight some of the problem areas that are stopping manufacturers from successfully implementing digital marketing. You can’t get serious about finding a solution until you know there is a problem. (See my recent post, “Problem-centric Industrial Marketing.”)

You may be facing other content related problems that I’m not aware of. Please feel free to add them here.

Contact me if you need specific help or would like to chat about your digital marketing issues. I offer ½-hour of phone consulting that is free of cost or obligation. It will help us both determine if we are a good fit and if I can really help you achieve better results with your digital marketing program.

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. Excellent perspective and one that I am challenged with daily. I have found that “seasoned” manufacturers will accept our digital efforts IF we make sure and align them with their current and proven practices. We have to respect what tactics they have employed in the past and carefully incorporate them into an integrated mix. We have found much success with this method and it gains trust, which is key. Additionally, we not do push social media (Twitter/FB) unless we are certain they will benefit, which in my professional opinion can be more of an embarressment vs. and asset. Thank you.

  2. Thank you, Achnita for sharing the information on Content & how is it helpful for Digital marketing
    Content – The Biggest Hurdle in Digital Marketing for Manufacturers

  3. This seems to be the biggest hurdle in many industries. Many companies are incorrect in thinking that they have nothing to share. Since content is a big piece of online marketing, it’s important to continually develop something worth sharing and hire a content marketer if needed.

    • @Nick,

      Thanks for your comments.
      I agree in a perfect world, companies should hire a content marketer but the reality on the ground is different. It presents both a challenge and a huge potential. Many of the smaller manufacturers that I deal with are family-owned and operated. They have limited resources that are already stretched to the max. Many of them are not fully convinced about the power of inbound marketing with content. As a small business owner myself, I understand their need for sales now versus promises of big rewards down the road. Part of my job is to overcome this skepticism and build a strong business case with proof of results. The tide is changing – albeit slowly.

  4. Good post, Achinta. B2B industrial marketers often possess the subject matter expertise that the market is craving, and another reason that they should develop a content strategy that leverages their expertise to garner more leads and sales. Many manufacturers also have manufacturers representatives who can be a source of good content or an avenue for distributing the manufacturer’s content, which can bring business for manufacturer’s reps and manufacturers alike.

    • Thank you Joan. You make an excellent point about Manufacturer’s Reps being a source of content and distribution. It would be a win-win (pardon the cliché) situation.

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