Industrial Marketing Blog

Industrial Content Marketing – Dazed and Confused

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How many of you remember the song “Dazed and Confused” from Led Zeppelin’s debut album based on a folk song by Jake Holmes? I am finding industrial content marketing in a similar state of confusion.

Manufacturers and industrial companies are confused by the dizzying array of things they have been advised to do in the name of content marketing. I found this chart from the Content Marketing Institute that shows the usage of various content marketing tactics by manufacturers in North America.

Manufacturing content marketing Usage by manufacturers in North America: CMI

If that wasn’t enough to make your heads spin, there is a lot of misinformation about how and what to track and measure to tie everything back to sales. Not an easy task given the typical long sales cycles and multiple stakeholders involved in the industrial buying process. You will get a distorted picture if you attribute leads and/or sales to the “last click.”

Because of these issues, industrial content marketing never gets off the launching pad for many of these companies. Some get started with a lot of enthusiasm only to fizzle out because no one has made a strong enough business case to the higher ups and they continue to believe that content marketing is just another promotional tactic that should produce quick results.

If you think I’m exaggerating, think again!

Here are just a few of the questions that I have fielded during actual conversations with industrial companies.

  • How do we prioritize our content marketing tactics between blogging, social media, webinars, white papers, case studies, videos etc.? We just don’t have the time or the expertise to do it all.
  • Who can we outsource our industrial content creation to since most B2B copywriters have trouble understanding our business and communicating effectively with engineers and technical buyers?
  • Should we redesign our website or focus on content marketing?
  • Is content marketing a new form of SEO or will it help us generate more qualified leads?
  • We have been blogging for some time now but how can we correlate those efforts to leads and sales?
  • How do we make proactive business/marketing decisions based on our analytics and reports when we seem to be drowning in data?

If you are manufacturer or an industrial company that has been doing content marketing for a while, you know the correct answer is all of the above. The key to success lies in developing a good content marketing strategy, executing it methodically, tracking, measuring and refining diligently.

For those just starting out with industrial content marketing, I suggest you read the following posts that I have published in the past:

P.S. Here’s a link to the YouTube video of Led Zeppelin’s Dazed and Confused.

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. @Bruce and @Tom,

    Thanks for your additional comments.

    Bruce, your comment — “… most manufacturing companies grew up around a product focused pitch delivered with a sales centric strategy” is spot on. I wrote about this in my earlier post, Are Manufacturers Turning a Deaf Ear to Content Marketing? (See bullet point #1).

  2. Ditto Bruce. You are right, the industrial folks that get this have a very unique (maybe…once in a lifetime ??) window of opportunity to, as you say, “eat their competitors’ lunch”.


  3. Seems the three of us are preaching to the choir a bit here, but I’ll add one more comment about ‘dazed and confused’ industrial companies when it comes to content marketing. If you think about it, most manufacturing companies grew up around a product focused pitch delivered with a sales centric strategy and associated tactics meaning feet on the street. For these companies to embrace and even understand the concept of how buyers behavior has changed and how it affects their business is a huge cultural shift. It is a disruptive change. Those industrial companies that are able to adjust the culture and become modern marketers will eat the other competitors for lunch. Change is hard enough and disruptive change is ten times harder. I also blog about some of these topics at my blog ‘Modern Marketing for Industry’ here
    Bruce McDuffee

  4. Achinta…you hit the nail on the head when you said, “out of their comfort zones”. I truly think that is the primary challenge holding industrial marketers back from inbound/content marketing. As I, you know these great folks, and I have never seen them shy away from opportunities that would bring more business in their doors. First they don’t really understand (out of their comfort zone) content/inbound marketing and when they finally do figure it out they have no clue (still out of their comfort zone) what the next/first step is. That is our job…get them to the next/first step…so they are no longer “dazed & confused”.
    I am going to put a follow-up post on my blog at with a graphic I use in many of my presentations. I have had more emotional reaction/visible pain to this graphic than at any time in my career. I think this graphic and its reaction speaks volumes about our friends in industrial marketing and validates your original post. Stay tuned. Thanks

    “By Tom Repp”

  5. Achinta…this caught my eye for two reasons: The emphasis on industrial content marketing as well as “Dazed and Confused” by Led Zeppelin, one of my favorites during my informative years at Adrian College.

    I could not agree more. I have presented this concept on many occasions and industrial marketers are, to use another worn out metaphor, like “deer in headlights”.

    I agree with Bob McCarthy, this process should start with the industrial web site. But I would go one step farther and start with a blog first, attached to your company’s primary domain.

    If you are an industrial marketer and just warming up to the concept of industrial content marketing, start with a blog. Read everything you can about blogging such as books like, Content Rules by Handley and Chapman or get David Meerman Scott’s revised edition of The New Rules of Marketing and PR. You can read these in weekend or two and then get started. Make sure you attach your blog to your primary domain and let ‘er rip. As Seth Godin says, “ship it”

    Once you start blogging all the different iterations of content marketing, inbound marketing…whatever you want to call it, will magically appear. You will start to connect to like-minded folks all over the world. You will say to yourself, “This is amazing!” You will have fun. You will grow. You will read more. You will find ways to harness all this content using innovation web-based tools.

    This will be a journey. This will get you out of your… industrial…comfort zone.

    Start with a blog!

    • @Tom,

      Thanks for adding your insights. I’m a big believer of blogs as an integral part of industrial websites and online marketing. Many of these companies tend to shy away from blogging because they just don’t have the time, the right people and/or the budget to completely outsource content creation. May be these are just convenient excuses to not get out of their comfort zones but sure seem like real challenges to them. It is up to industrial marketers like us to show them the way by making a strong and convincing business case.
      Looks like we both grew up listening to the same kind of music.

  6. Achinta, Content marketing for industry does seem like a monumental task especially in the context of trying to create so many different types of content to “do it right”. I suggest that those marketers in industry interested in leveraging content as a way to market take it one piece at a time and make that one piece available in multiple targeted channels and formats. Re-purposing is the secret to efficient content marketing.

    Another very important point to remember is that a good content marketing plan serves the customers or target audience, not the firm providing the content. Ultimately, the firm will benefit from increased growth rates and market share, but the mindset must be to provide content that benefits the customer. If the objective of a content marketing program is to create leads, then it is off to a poor start in my opinion.

    • @Bruce,

      Thanks for weighing in with your thoughts. You’ve brought up two good points — repurposing content and creating content that serves the interests of your audience. I strongly believe in both and advise my clients to do the same. Content marketing shouldn’t be about you, it’s all about what how your content helps your readers and customers.

  7. Excellent post, Achinta

    You raise a key question – where should you start?

    Personally, I think you should start with your website.

    Even before you engage in content marketing (which is an ongoing exercise), most websites could be dramatically improved by adding a lead generation element to every page.

    This involves a simple addition of informational offers (like a catalog or white paper) and lead capture forms, along with a back-end system for data capture, fulfillment and lead nurturing.

    This is just a starting point. But it maximizes your opportunity to capture leads from the people who are already visiting your site.

    It also provides a platform on which to develop content marketing as well as other forms of marketing outreach.

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