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Content Marketing: 4 Rules You Should Follow

Posted by Ellen McKewen on Jun 2, 2015 10:32:00 AM

As manufacturing customers are increasingly searching for information online that can help them with their job, this has opened the gates for manufacturers to become a major part of the content creation process.

Content marketing serves as an ideal method for driving website traffic — but more importantly — it helps to build a solid reputation as a content creator who answers the difficult questions of prospects and consumers. By sharing pertinent information, you'll establish trust and interest in your services without coming off as aggressive to your audience.

Although you may already be using content marketing to attract visitors to your website, there are some basic tips that many overlook before they begin to write content. Here, we’ll give you some pointers on how to ensure you’re making the most out of your content marketing efforts.

Creating valuable content that caters to your prospects and existing customers helps to build your rapport in the industry.

1. Define Your Goals in the Beginning

When you begin to write content for your website, you should have a clear intention as to why you’re writing, filming or recording the material. The content should cater to the readers' needs by answering questions that they're looking for on the web.

Ideally, you’ll have answers for all of the following questions before you begin to create:
  • What are my prospects/customers searching for?
  • Is the topic relevant to their manufacturing needs/interests?
  • Is right now the ideal time to publish your content?
  • How do I establish my organization as a source for answers?
Specifically, manufacturers’ goals usually align with one of three optionsbrand awareness, lead generation or customer acquisition — with credibility serving as an outcome of effective content marketing.

Ideally, you’ll want your content to be perceived by prospects or existing customers as helpful, insightful and easy to digest. With your goals fully defined in your marketing strategies, it’ll become easier to develop content that your audience is looking for while building a solid readership following and establishing yourself as a credible source of relevant information.

2. Get to Know Your Audience

Understanding who you’re marketing to saves ample amounts of work on the backend of content creation. If your organization caters to other businesses (B2B) or does business strictly with your products’ end-users (B2C), then the way your content is written will inevitably be different. 

Some prefer to read longer content (eBooks) while some prefer quick reads (blog posts) and others prefer visual content (video). Fortunately, content marketing is flexible enough to accommodate all of these media. Once you conduct research on the type of content that your audience gravitates to the most, then you can focus on catering to their needs — benefiting their thirst for knowledge and your desire to attract them to your brand.

3. Determine Your Distribution Method

Once you’ve created content, how will you get it in front of your prospects? Whether your organization is small or large, the internet makes distribution simple. Once content is written on your blog or filmed and published to your YouTube page, prioritize email newsletters and LinkedIn as your primary distribution methods.

Email delivers new content directly to a prospect's inbox without them having to spend time searching for it. On the other hand, LinkedIn is the ideal platform where you'll find a targeted group of manufacturers, partners or those who are simply interested in manufacturing topics.

As your target audience may be scattered across social media, don't neglect other sites such as Facebook to alert customers when new content becomes available.

Finding the optimum distribution method is key making content marketing work for your organization..You’re likely already connected to prospects, current clients and manufacturing partners who can comment on your content — but more favorably — they'll share the content so it can be distributed in an exponential fashion.

Remember, different distribution methods work well for different purposes. With that said, engage your customers to give you feedback on which methods they prefer to receive content and use that data for your future content marketing strategies.

For example, many manufacturers use YouTube for marketing purposes and rate it as the most effective medium for their field, according to the Content Marketing Institute. As a more hands-on industry where it's easier to digest information visually, YouTube serves as a helpful platform where organizations can showcase their products, facilities and even explain intricate processes that takes place within their manufacturing operations.

The video format also allows your company to show your face to potential clients. Those in the beginning of the sales cycle enjoy getting to see exactly who they could be working with and it breaks down the business barrier to show more the unique personality that makes up your organization. Videos should be short, yet informative — kept under 2 minutes, ideally. 

4. Devise a Plan to Create Content

With all of the previous steps mapped out, the only thing left is how you’re going to create the actual marketing content. 

One of the most important, yet overlooked steps is creating a content calendar with topics and potential dates to publish. This preliminary step saves ample amount of time by giving your team a well-organized vision of what to expect from week to week.

If you’re a small organization without the means to hire an in-house marketing specialist or an outside vendor, you can still use the staff you already have. It’ll be a huge benefit if you’re able to get your staff to collaborate on content creation.

For example, you can create a rotating schedule where a different employee creates content every week. To make this process easier, you can have employees write about what they know best. This will not only boost the quality of the content, but it will also engage your team members by giving them a platform to share the knowledge of their position. Of course, someone should always review the content for accuracy before anything is published.  

Catering to the Sales Cycle

Another point in content creation that must be addressed is where your prospects are in the sales process. In addition to creating good content, you should also create material that addresses the needs of prospects who may be in the middle or near the end of the sale cycle.

"Top of the funnel" content caters to those who are browsing and newly interested. While many organizations cater to this area to garner interest in their products or services, there is also much to be gained with "middle and/or bottom of the funnel" content that addresses more complex issues once a prospect shows deeper interest.

Publishing case studies, testimonials or a comparison post of your product/services versus your competition's, gives readers a clearer view of how your services can address their problems. If they're in the middle or bottom stages of the sales cycle, it's likely they've spoken to your sales staff — and it's here where your sales reps should provide this helpful, real-world information that will serve as evidence that your products or services can satisfy their needs. 

Remember, content comes in different shapes and sizes. With that said, you can keep content fresh by creating it in different forms from white papers and emails to videos and blog posts.

For statistical data on how the manufacturing industry is making use of content marketing (as of last year), be sure to view this resource from the Content Marketing Institute.

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