Great Content Takes Work - a Style Guide is a Helpful Tool for Manufacturing Marketing
Guide to Episode
- A style guide is an editorial tool to improve industrial content marketing consistency
- Many industrial companies struggle to create adequate content for a strong program of content marketing for manufactures
- A style guide will support the content creation process in three specific ways
- You can begin with a simple style guide and gradually improve it as your digital marketing program matures
Hello. I’m Ed Marsh. Welcome to Signals from the OP, my biweekly video blog. On each episode, I pull on a thread that isn’t really on the radar of industrial company execs, but I think should be. If you know of someone who would find value in this video, please share it with them.
What is a Style Guide and Why Does it Matter to Content Marketing for Manufacturers?
We will go deep into the weeds today – at least, it will seem that way. I’d ask that you bear with me because I think you’ll see how it has strategic implications that warrant the awareness of presidents and senior execs. Today I will share with you reasons why I think you should have a “Style Guide.”
A what, you ask? Fair enough. Let’s start from the beginning.
What is a style guide? A style guide is a document that codifies a company’s expectations for writing, formatting, and design of digital content. Longer formats are often called style manuals or style book. You’re probably familiar with the AP Stylebook, and you may have heard of the Chicago Manual of Style. Many companies actually incorporate the AP Stylebook into their guide by reference.
That’s what a style guide is, but why does it matter for manufacturing marketing? That’s a fair question. So let’s back up to explore the nature of marketing and sales for most industrial marketing companies today. Much of it happens digitally. And digital marketing for manufacturers gets built on content.
Content is articles, web pages, guides, videos, webinars, and more – most of it requires writing and publishing. So fundamentally, marketing for manufacturing is largely built around written content. And each of us has our own habits and style of writing.
That’s potentially a problem for a company because all of the content needs to meet certain criteria for consistency, tone, and style so that it’s appropriate for the brand and for the consumers of the content.
That’s where a style guide comes in. There are three reasons why a style guide is an important supplement to content marketing for manufacturers and a key element of a manufacturing marketing program.
Three Ways a Style Guide Supports Inbound Industrial Marketing
First, it helps establish consistency across internal contributors. A veteran on your sales team will present things very differently than the CFO. Both will present them differently than a technical writer who creates user manuals. That doesn’t mean any are wrong, but they’re not consistent. So while they will have different, complementary perspectives that you’ll surely want to capture and share, the general tone and style all need to match – just like you want your logo color to match on everyone’s business cards (you still use business cards, right?)
Second, a strong style guide makes the editorial work easier when you have guest and freelance contributors. Most industrial companies struggle to create the volume of content that they need to support a strong program of content marketing for manufacturers. They may turn to an industrial marketing agency for help or build a team of freelancers to create content, as well as seek opportunities to place guest posts on other sites and invite appropriate guests to contribute on theirs. A style guide helps contributors adapt their content to the company’s standards.
Third, a style guide will help to ensure that content consistently and faithfully represents the company’s culture and brand. This applies broadly, from details like colors, fonts, and grammar, to tone, style, and formatting. Generally, digital marketing for manufacturers is most effective with content that is conversational in tone. That’s uncomfortable or surprising for some companies that are more conservative and formal in their communications. Creating the style guide allows everyone to preemptively participate in those discussions rather than make ad hoc decisions in an unpredictable editing process.
Start Simply and Build Gradually - an Evolving Industrial Marketing Style Guide
You may be thinking, “I don’t need another project.” I hear you. Don’t stress. You can start small with your style guide and gradually refine and expand it as necessary. Understand that it’s a tool to make content marketing for manufacturers more effective, not just another to-do.
Digital marketing is complex, but it’s now the core of marketing for manufacturing. So it’s not really optional like a specific trade show, or journal ad might be. A style guide will streamline and improve digital marketing for manufacturers and improve your results.
I’m Ed Marsh. Thank you for joining me for this episode of Signals from the OP. If you enjoyed it, please share it and subscribe – either to my YouTube channel EdMarshSpeaks.TV or at the related blog SignalsFromTheOP.com.