Work, Work, Work....and nothing to show for it?
That’s a perfect description of so many companies' content marketing efforts. Weeks, months and years of hard work go into content creation, SEO and other pieces of the industrial marketing - yet for all the diligent chopping or hammering, they never really get the results they expected, or even enough to justify the work.
The thrill is long gone, but as Seth Godin recently wrote, "The work of a professional isn't to recreate thrills. It's to show up and do the work. To continue the journey you set out on a while ago. To make the change you seek to make in the universe.". You have to keep at it, but with more than just brute force.
Inbound marketing is really complex, and there are any number of places where the potential to 'change your universe' can be derailed - more often there are many places which need to be individually optimized. A 2-3% improvement in 10 places can start to make a cumulatively significant difference!
But there's one that's increasingly important as industrial marketing success depends on putting your content in front of the right audiences...in a world completely flooded with content. That requires very effective distribution and promotion. That's the essence of the film business where the art of film is entirely different, but intertwined with the distribution and excitement.
But distribution and promotion in the industrial marketing context requires carefully planned and optimized activities in 5 categories:
- Owned media
- Shared / social media
- Earned media
- Paid media
The tools are readily available to allow you to deliver different messages to different people across different channels - including even on your own website and in your automated emails. Smart content / contextual marketing are the keys - built of course on a strong, qualitatively researched understanding of buyers and their buying process.
Great industrial marketing integrates all of these channels in the distribution and promotion of content.
This is your stuff - website, YouTube channel, blog (don't have one? here's why you must), case studies, technical drawings, whitepapers and other similar content. It must all be optimized around your target buyer personas, and mapped to specific stages in their buying journey. Make sure you put the dots really close together for Google by linking from items to items to help illustrate the web of how it all relates.
No matter how much you and I and every other person in the world hates email at this point....it's remarkably effective and resilient despite all the predictions of it's demise. But success depends on respect for your recipients. That means in addition to having substantive, helpful information, you must:
- conduct relentless quantitative A/B testing of elements including subject line, offers, day & time
- segment recipients
- use of marketing automation insight
- optimize the tempo of mails
Shared / Social Media
Think your buyers don't use social media? Wrong! They do...and they like and share. That's powerful (implicit endorsement) sharing and reach that you can't afford to ignore.
In most B2B industrial marketing situations this will focus on LinkedIn's free and paid opportunities. These include group participation, company page and sponsored listings and promotions. But don't discount Twitter or the power of image based social media (e.g. Instagram) for certain industries.
I even had an industrial buyer, who claimed to never use Twitter, express astonishment when I showed him that he initially found me through a tweet - one that Google had indexed and included in search results. Your buyers don't have to have twitter handles to use social media!
Do you realize how tough an editor's job is? Constant deadlines and pressure, never enough good stories, one hassle after another. Here's your biggest opportunity! Develop some helpful relationships with editors of trade journals related to your industry. They nearly all have decent digital properties from which inbound links will generate credibility and visitors to your site.
Give them some great content and let them use it. (And buying an ad or two every now and then helps too.....)
Lately ABM (account based marketing) is getting tons of attention. Ad retargeting, paid listings (e.g. Google AdWords) and trade journal advertising opportunities can be effective.
A lead gen strategy based on paid ads is generally folly in the industrial space - but it can be a very tactical compliment to other approaches to achieve wide distribution.
The Devil is in the Details
All of these pieces must be integrated - and the integration must be tactically and strategically sound. That's why so many companies lament unsuccessful attempts at using social media, or disgust with AdWords. And it's one of the reasons why the appeal of DiY inbound marketing is seductive but misleading. (And why an inbound marketing consultant can be a very helpful resource.)
It doesn't work to simply create content - even if it's great.