Industrial Marketing Blog

What Content Marketing Functions Do Industrial Companies Outsource?

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I hope your Holidays were wonderful and that you are off to a good start in 2014.

The views I have expressed in this post are based on my daily dealings with manufacturing and industrial companies that are looking to outsource their content marketing and are not based on any scientific research studies. However, I would like to validate my findings with data from third-party surveys. In this case, it is the 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/ MarketingProfs.

Functions that B2B Marketers Outsource

Functions that B2B Marketers Outsource

Those findings parallel what I experience with my industrial clients but there are some differences.

Content Planning & Strategy is probably the first thing I am asked to do. There are two kinds of clients that need this done — the first group needs educating about the what and why of industrial content marketing and in the second group are people who have done their own research and understand the benefits, but need help developing an effective content marketing strategy.

The needs of these two groups of clients are very different. I direct people from the first group to this blog and ask them to download some of my industrial marketing white papers as a free educational service. Whereas my Industrial Marketing Consulting and Coaching service is a much better fit for those from the second group.

My post, “What Does a Content Marketing Strategy Mean for Industrial Companies?” goes into more details about content marketing strategy.

Copywriting is the second biggest need for outsourced content marketing. Effective copywriting for industrial content marketing requires a skill set that is very different from copywriting in general. Skills needed for content marketing are much more than just technical copywriting. Outsourcing industrial copywriting is by far the biggest source of confusion and frustrations for clients.

The biggest difference that I have seen from my experience is the ability to extract the technical knowledge from in-house subject matter experts (SME). I consider it the most important aspect of my job as a consultant for outsourced industrial content marketing. Why is this critical?

Things begin to get very complicated when industrial companies realize that there is much more to content marketing than just creating and publishing content. Here are some of the common hurdles that I have come across in my conversations with manufacturers, distributors and engineering companies:

  • Our Founder/President/Owner has a clear vision of his business but it is in his head. He finds it difficult to articulate it into written words and differentiate our company
  • Our in-house SMEs know their technical stuff but are not good writers and they don’t have time for marketing
  • We are afraid of giving away our trade secrets if we reveal too much in our online content
  • We don’t want to give away free information. We want site visitors to call our sales people who will explain everything
  • Freelancers don’t understand our customers and they lack the technical background to understand our business

Those are not easy challenges to overcome for a copywriter. A good content marketer must play many roles – he/she must know SEO, be an investigative reporter who asks the right questions for extracting the meat of the matter from SMEs, be a copywriter, an editor, a marketer, be savvy about social media and most importantly, be well versed with Analytics and Marketing Automation in order to prove ROI of content marketing. You’ll find many articles here on each one of those topics. Click on an appropriate category or use the search function to find them.

I direct you to three of my earlier blog posts to learn more about working with SMEs and engineers:

  1. Industrial Blogging Lessons Learned from Working with Technical SMEs
  2. How to Coax Content Out of Engineers
  3. Use Content to Uncover Tacit Know-how Inside the Minds of Engineers

These are my thoughts on why industrial companies outsource their content marketing. Share your experiences if you outsource industrial content creation and other marketing functions.

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. Great post Bob. Personally I think the content has nothing to do with the writer or the writer has a very small role in the process. If anything there it’s about the editor more but that’s not what I’m getting at either. Really, successful technical content(writing) and strategy for the industrial industry depends on a proven process for extracting the information from the in-house experts whether they be engineers or experienced industry salesman. Then that content, blog or whitepaper for instance, should be formatted in a way to highlight that industry experts input into the piece of content and leverage their reputation while building their authority.
    What I’m saying is you could have a writer with over ten years journalism experience produce industrial content and do your strategy but times have changed so much recently that the old way of writing is no longer the best way and the industrial industry must accept, adapt and embrace this.
    So when looking to outsource writing, the number 1 item on your graphic above, I think the best route is not to seek an experienced writer but instead to find a company that specializes in producing quality content across many industries but has had success within the industrial space because of their process for producing finished content. It is very likely that the company you find with this excellent process for extracting the quality industry specific knowledge from your in-house experts and turning it into content also has already done the legwork to round-up a group of writers and train them on what is effective today in terms of writing.

    Again thanks for the post Bob great info!

  2. With social media becoming one of the most useful marketing channels for B2C companies, B2B companies seem to fall behind. I’ve been reading success stories from how SMEs become successful in using social media to market their brands and sell their products/services. On the other hand, B2B companies’ main weapon is content, and this is the reason why it is crucial to apply content marketing strategies at its best. Based from your article, I’d say that outsourcing when done right could just be the very best option to become successful from content marketing. I’m sure your readers and followers have learned a lot from this – thank you, Achinta.

  3. Great post, Achinta

    As always, you’ve raised some important points for industrial marketers to consider. You know this market better than anyone. Your articles continually provide a wealth of information and guidance.

    As a freelance B2B writer and marketer myself, I was very encouraged by your outsourcing chart putting writing at the top.

    I do think writers need to be sensitive to some of the hurdles you outlined and some of the concerns industrial clients have about using outside content creators.

    Many writers (myself included) began as journalists who typically write for general audiences. But when you write B2B copy for a particular company, you need to write in the voice of that industry.

    This is not an easy thing to do if you’re new to that industry.

    If I’m working in a new industry and unfamiliar with the “language” of that industry, I try to take a collaborative approach to my writing by working closely with a designated expert in the company. It takes more time, but I think it gives clients a comfort level with the process and the end product.

    • Bob,

      Thanks a lot for your kind words and for sharing your own experiences as a B2B copywriter.
      Your background in journalism is a valuable skill set. I couldn’t agree more with you regarding learning about an industry by working closely with SMEs. It does take time to develop that “voice.”

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