I don’t believe in cutting corners or trying to find cheap shortcuts to success. But I do believe in time efficiency and producing results as fast as possible. Because most of our customers and prospects feel the same way, I wanted to outline the approach to marketing for manufacturers that I’d take if tasked with generating leads on an accelerated timeline. The marketing plan below can be fully-implemented within 1-2 months.
One important note before we jump in: the list below is an ongoing process. To be successful with online marketing, it’s imperative that you never stop developing resourceful content to attract, educate and convert prospects to leads. There’s a study of 2015 digital media use in the industrial sector published by the firm IHS Engineering360, for instance, which found that 77 percent of engineers use digital media to find parts, services and suppliers. That means that your audience is going online for solutions. Once you’ve made it through step seven, go back to step one, evaluate what you’ve done, rinse and repeat. This approach has worked consistently for our clients and with commitment, it can work for you too.
1. Identify your three most important buyer personas - Target audience
Before you dive in and start developing resourceful marketing content, you want to be very clear about WHO you’re writing to and what their needs truly are. Many influencers can play a role throughout the buying process, from procurement to engineers to CEOs. This article about creating targeted buyer personas will help you identify those most important influencers.
2. Identify core problems for each persona
Once you know who you’re writing to, identify what each of these buyers/influencers really cares about. What are their pain points and problems they need solved? CEOs might care about high-level company problems you can solve. Engineers likely care about technical considerations. Project managers care about how to improve their daily work. With a clear perspective on your most important buyers’ challenges, you’ll have much less trouble planning content ideas that will help demonstrate your expertise and earn their trust.
3. Do keyword research around those problems
Many manufacturers have problems like lack of qualified leads, uninformed buyers and inability to measure marketing results. Through keyword research, we can target the keywords and topics that our customers are searching for. We then develop our content around these topics and make ourselves helpful resources to our prospects. Doing so builds trust and opens the door to sales conversations when our prospects are ready to have them. What’s the equivalent for your customers and prospects?
4. Create a white paper for each persona
Once you’ve identified the core problems for each of your buyer personas, it’s time to develop your problem-solving content. Start with a white paper written for your most important persona – a tightly-focused 1500-to-2500-word-long article that educates in depth on a topic. Structure it in 500-word, easy-to-digest “chapters” that could have the ability to live as shorter, stand-alone articles later on (hint, hint). Later, you’ll also want to create additional white papers for your other personas.
5. Create lead capture pages, calls-to-action and email alerts
This part gets a bit more technical, but it’s imperative to the manufacturing marketing process if you’re going to generate real leads. So get the help of a web developer to make some updates on your website. Create lead capture landing pages (like this B2B web marketing guide) where visitors can trade their contact info for the expert white paper you created in step four. Place call-to-action buttons throughout your website that encourage visitors to download that white paper and drive them to the landing page through the simple click of a mouse. And finally, set up alerts throughout your website that fire you an email every time visitors download your white paper. Then you can learn the names, email addresses, phone numbers, company names and any other info you chose to collect through the website form right away. When an alert comes through, and if he or she is a good fit, pick up the phone and make the call!
6. Publish a short blog article once a week
Back in step four, I recommended writing your white paper in shorter “chapters”. Each of those chapters can now live as individual articles on your blog. Why? Because each shorter article provides you with the opportunity to speak to a more specific subtopic individually. And each of those articles gives you an extra page that Google will index as well as the opportunity to target a different keyword or phrase that’s important to rank for in search engines. One really important last step: You know those call-to-action buttons I asked you to create in step five? You’ll need one at the bottom of each blog post too. “If you found this article helpful, download our more in-depth guide on the topic. Click here”. This step is what turns your educational article into a real lead-capture opportunity.
7. Share your content on social media
If you did a good job choosing relevant keywords for your individual blog articles in step six, you’ll start attracting prospects through Google searches before long. But there’s no reason not to proactively promote your new content as well. Social media – particularly LinkedIn – provides a perfect venue for sharing links to your articles in front of a relevant audience. Post them to your feed. Encourage others at your company to do the same. And if you want to get ambitious, seek out LinkedIn industry groups where you can participate in topical discussions and offer your articles as helpful answers to questions of others.
None of the seven steps above happens with the snap of a finger. But at the same time, marketing for manufacturers isn’t rocket science. Carve out the time, make the commitment to doing it right, and I’m confident you’ll succeed.
Joe Sullivan is a Partner at Gorilla 76 – a B2B marketing agency specializing in inbound marketing for the industrial sector. Gorilla 76 helps manufacturers, industrial service providers, distributors, builders and their subcontractors grow their businesses online