Compared to 10 years ago, significantly more manufacturers will acknowledge their need for online marketing vs. their old tactics. Heck...compared to 2 years ago there's been a shift.
Manufacturers are finally realizing that people are shopping at their own pace, when they need something and how they want to do it...nearly all of it online. In fact, buyers are about 60%-70% towards a buying decision before even speaking to someone.
The best way to get in front of someone in that initial 60%-70% timeframe is through content marketing. We can explain this 100 times, but until a manufacturer can clearly see how content can provide value, they won't be entirely committed. A great way to see a clear vision of this is through a content marketing brainstorming session.
How to Brainstorm Content Marketing for Manufacturers
To effectively reach buyers early, you must provide content that is valuable in those early stages. ThomasNet created a great diagram explaining the buyer's journey specifically for manufacturers and their long buying cycle and how that journey aligns with content.
To brainstorm you should first understand your buyer persona(s). You want to write for them, they're your best buyers. You should do this exercise for each buyer persona you have, but you shouldn't have too many. 1-3 is common for most manufacturers.
If you've clearly defined your persona(s), start identifying their decision making process (journey). The best place to start is by defining the intent, concerns, problems your buyer would have in each of these journey stages. What will eventually bring them to a search engine?
- Before Awareness - What's going on in the mind of your buyer on a day-to-day basis? How can you get in front of them? 48% of industrial buyers spend at least 6 hours per week online related to their job (IHS Engineering360). 42% of buyers visit more than 10 work-related website each week (IHS Engineering360). You can get in front of them!
- Awareness - This is where your buyer is actively searching for something, however they may not even realize they have a problem at this point. They might be searching for symptoms, tips, things like that. What are some common things that might lead them to a search engine.
- Search for Information - This is what we would call the consideration stage. They have researched symptoms and identified they have a problem. At this point they are committed to solving that problem.
- Pricing and Negotiation - This can be a long period of time in the industrial buyers world. What types of things would they need to know in this stage? Think benefits, validation, value add, etc.
- Vendor Selection - As with any content marketing strategy, we don't want you to forget about people that have already bought. The buyer is now ready to work with you, what types of thing will they want to know?
- After the Sale - You should be delighting your current customers. As they are using your product or service, how can you add additional value or make their lives easier?
Hopefully you didn't just answer those things in your head. Write them down! You're ready to move on.
Now that you've outlined the intent of the buyer, you need to align content. For each of the stages above brainstorm at least 5 titles or subject lines. You should be thinking about these things as blog posts, email topics, videos, checklists, etc. Think about providing answers and value to someone doing research online, not how you can sell them.
After completing this brainstorming session you should be excited about how your content marketing will help you reach more people, build more relationships, and stay in front of prospects throughout a long buying cycle!