Originally published on July 1, 2020. Updated on Dec. 1, 2021.
They’ve improved their abilities to create content for multi-level roles in their target audiences and have worked harder to document their content strategies compared with just a year ago, they told CMI. But there’s still one area where manufacturing content marketers could stand to improve.
Fifty-five percent of marketers in manufacturing say their top challenge is overcoming the traditional marketing and sales mindset, which can make generating leads and closing sales tricky.
Content marketing can successfully generate leads and close sales for your business only if you approach content creation in the right way for the right audience.
According to Content Marketing Institute, only 40% of marketers in the manufacturing space frequently craft content based on the stages of the sales funnel. To dive deeper, these marketers create half of their content for those at the top of the funnel, 21% for people in the middle, and 15% for those at the bottom of the funnel.
What do these numbers reveal? Too many manufacturing marketers place their focus on content marketing at the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey — at the expense of the later stages of the customer journey.
Companies in the manufacturing industry have somewhat solid content marketing strategies, but they’re still struggling to create content to engage their audiences throughout the entire marketing funnel — especially those at the bottom.
Here are three ways manufacturing companies can create and use content to effectively reach their audiences at the bottom of the funnel in order to generate more leads and close more sales:
Your salespeople are uniquely positioned to give your marketing team the inside scoop on your prospects’ biggest sticking points when it comes to your offerings. So ask them!
Find out what questions leads ask your sales team, why leads delay working with you, and even why some leads walk away without signing on for what you have to offer. This will allow you to create content — like blog posts, case studies, or infographics — that addresses those pain points. That way, your sales team can walk into sales conversations confident that they have the materials they need in order to close new business.
Niagara Conservation Corp., a manufacturer focused on inventing new ways for its customers to "conserve water without sacrificing performance," has used blog content to speak to its target audience. For example, a blog post titled "Property Owners Installing Water-Efficient Toilets See Quicker ROI, Increased Sustainability" can serve as a sales enablement piece that drives home the fact that potential customers can see a positive return on their investment by using products like the ones Niagara produces.
As I mentioned before, case studies can be a great sales enablement tool. They showcase the impact your customers have seen as a result of working with your manufacturing company, which can illustrate to potential customers that they can expect to see similar results. (To review one of our case studies, click here!)
So choose one of your most successful customers and ask whether you can showcase that client’s success in a case study on your website. If the customer agrees, do a deep dive into the work you’ve done for that customer and the measurable impact your work has made. Then, you can write up the case study in a blog post, or you can post it on a page of your website that’s dedicated to case studies. (Here’s ours!) Now your sales team will have the collateral it needs to show leads that you have a successful track record and can help them as well.
For example, Powerblanket, a manufacturer in the industrial temperature control space, has a dedicated page on its website for case studies. Each piece of content outlines how Powerblanket worked to solve tangible problems for its customers. Sharing content like this allows the company to showcase its capabilities and help potential customers envision the kind of results they can expect to see by working with Powerblanket.
In that same vein, quotes from happy customers can go a long way in assuring leads that working with your manufacturing company is a positive, worthwhile experience. So share some on your website!
One way to gather customer testimonials is to send out a survey asking customers about their experiences. When you get the survey results, reach out to customers whose testimonials you’d like to feature on your site and get their permission. Then, post them on your website and feature them on applicable sales collateral. For example, we include testimonials in our sales proposals and throughout our website. (For example, you can find a couple on our homepage.)
If engaging your audience members who are at the bottom of the funnel has been a challenge for your manufacturing company, give these tips a try to close that gap and have more fruitful sales conversations.
I'm a content-obsessed word person with a passion for finding the coziest coffee shop in town. By day, I'm the director of content at Influence & Co. In my downtime, you can find me reading a book, sipping a latte, drawing, hand lettering, or watching "The Office" for the zillionth time.