Posted by Todd Hockenberry ● Apr 26, 2017
How to Blog for Manufacturing
We work with a lot of manufacturing companies and one of the most common manufacturing marketing questions we get is 'Why do we need to blog'? Often followed by 'How do we blog for manufacturing'?
Why do manufacturing companies need to blog?
1. To Help Your Target Prospects
Your prospects are using the Internet to find answers to questions, look for new ideas, evaluate options, compare companies, contrast solutions, and a whole lot more. Does anyone at this point think people in the future will use the Internet less than they do now? Of course not, so you better be staking you claim to your digital territory before so many competitors are there that you are shut out - if you aren't already.
Google 'percent of B2B purchases that start with a search' and you'll see all of the studies showing that the number is between 66% and 93%, and many of these surveys are a year or two old. That number is surely going up.
And the most important stat in my mind - 74% of sales go to the first company that was helpful.
The principle of reciprocation outlined by Robert Cialdini explains why. We like to reciprocate when someone gives us something for free or helps us. So those being helpful online before a prospect even talks to the company win a large % of the time.
2. To Get Found by Prospects
Most manufacturing companies have a 'set it and forget it' attitude when it comes to their websites. The search engines serve results based on relevance and authority according to their ever-updating algorithms. One of the signals they watch is the recency of published content, among many others. The number of pages on a given websites is another. Makes sense. More pages equal more content about a particular subject and then signals relevance.
Well optimized blog posts are a proven way to build SEO juice and drive traffic to your site. We have seen blog posts that answer specific questions become featured snippet pages when that question is Googled. Here is an example from one of our clients:
Over 4.6 million results for this search and our client has the featured snippet and organic positions 1 and 2. All from blog posts. If you want to show up in search like this, then you need to be blogging.
3. To Increase Customer Engagement
What do manufacturing people want to read about and what content do they want to engage with? The content that is helpful to them. What they care about. Pretty straight forward but not always easy to do. Many manufacturers want to talk features and specifications because that is what they are comfortable with. The old saying goes 'nothing is as sweet to a person as the sound of their own name.' The blogging for manufacturing version of that is 'nothing is as interesting to a person as content about their problems, issues, and opportunities.'
You know what these things are. The topics your prospects want to engage with are the ones they ask you about all the time. Speed, savings, downtime, safety, integration, uptime, quality, throughput, preventive maintenance, repairs, rebuilds, retrofits, logistics, shipping, etc. The more you blog about these things, the more they will engage with you.
Blogs are great content for email campaigns, follow up emails, social media, and direct sales outreach. Writing down your ideas, the helpful ones for your audience, is a huge way to build credibility. You didn't just tell someone you do certain things; you published it!
A word about what a blog is. It is true that when many manufacturers think about blogging, they think about writing. Yes, that is a part of it but not all of it. Video, audio, infographics, lists, guides, how to's there is almost no end to the format of an individual blog post. A post could be one sentence or a 10,000-word essay. A blog post could be a video shot on the factory floor using a mobile phone or a produced training class delving deep into a topic. The answer to what is a blog post is anything that your readers/prospects/customers want in the format they want it.
So that's why you should blog if you are a manufacturer, Now, on to the second question.
How to blog for manufacturing?
1. Brainstorm a List of Ideas, Topics, and Types of Posts
Sit down with your customer facing people, salespeople are great at knowing what your prospects and customers want to talk about, and start listing all the areas and types of things they think are important.
Here is a list with links to examples of different types, all real examples from our clients:
- recent trends in your industry or predictions for the future
- new rules or regulations
- newsjack a story in the headlines and relate it to what you do
- a story about how you solved a problem for a customer, make sure to state the problem that needed to be solved, how you did it, and then the list measurable results attained
- industry specific solutions
- video of your solution in the field
- a how to story
- a best story, best way to fix this problem, 11 best places to get that answer, etc
- checklist to run through to prevent something from happening
- explain something, why do these tools look this way?
- a history lesson
- announce an event
- talk openly about pricing (hint, they all know what you stuff costs anyway)
- detailed story of an application of your technology
2. Pick a Tool to Use
Website hosting and marketing integration tools like HubSpot include blog modules. Word Press is a good option if you don't have marketing automation. There are others like Blogger and Tumblr, make sure to use one that is low cost and easy to use. Here is a great article about the best blogging platforms and a good example of the type of post that comes up when I search 'best blogging platform.'
Find, follow, and study sources online that talk about blogging best practices like Moz.com, HubSpot, copyblogger.com, problogger.com, and dailyblogtips.com. Follow blogs in your industry or in related industries. Watch how they blog, how often, what they write about, look for the details.
A great blog in the industrial world is run by our friends over at Cerasis. Their blog is a strategic asset and helps position them for success in a market with some pretty big players, and it helps them achieve a digital competitive advantage. That advantage translates into more leads, more opportunities, more engagement, and is felt on their top and bottom line.
The key is to get started. Blog once a week at a minimum to start. You can always migrate your posts to a new platform if you need to update your tools.
3. Blog What You Know, Not What You Sell
What is your expertise? It is not equipment, or your product, or service, but the application of it. You sell what your customers see in terms of benefits, improvements, savings, quality, avoidance of risk, etc.
Theodore Levitt, the famous management consultant, once said, "People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter inch hole."
Blog what your prospects ask you about. You are creating content every day in the form of your customer facing people's phone calls and emails, as well as their presentations and proposals. Take these sources and make them the foundation of your blog topics. The questions you answer all day long are the best topics for your blog. Why? Because dollars to donuts your prospects are asking the same questions using search engines, their phones, and devices like Amazon's Echo.
4. Establish OwnershipMake sure someone owns the blog and the process, and connect the blog to your corporate goals. Do you have a goal to enter a new market? Connect the blog to that goal by writing attractive content to that target audience. Need to drive more leads? Tie the blog to new traffic generation, SEO, and lead conversion. Need to stay connected to your existing contacts? Tie the blog to interactions with your existing contacts and new up sell, cross-sell, and service opportunities.
A manufacturing blog done well, tended correctly, and consistently fed is a strategic asset for manufacturing companies and one of the best long-term investments you can make. But it does take time, consistency, and effort. Make no mistake, blogging is not always easy but like most things, if you stick with it, you will get better at it over time, and you will see a return on those efforts.
5. Set Goals
And last but certainly not least you need to have goals. Follow the basics of goal setting - make them time frame specific. attainable, assigned to a person, and realistic, as well as tied to your corporate goals.
What are some goals for a blog?
- Increase reach
- More leads and sales
- Connect with your audience
- Resource for sales team
- Drive awareness about something
- Stay connected to customers
- Up sell and cross sell
- Differentiate from competitors
- Energize your internal team and have some fun
Answer the why you want to blog question and measure progress towards your goals. Follow these steps and create goals that push you to succeed and you will be well on your way to creating a unique asset for your company with a blog.