Tl;dr - Podcasts are all the rage. So periodically, I am asked if a manufacturer should incorporate one into their content marketing program. The short answer is probably not, but maybe....Helpful, huh? Actually, that's a decent answer if we back up and understand the role of inbound marketing content, the common struggles that arise in content marketing for manufacturers, and what adding a podcast would mean. Let's go!
What is Inbound Marketing Content
Inbound marketing content is the material you create to help buyers find your company, your products and your services, and then engage them and convert them to leads when they visit your website. Lead generation content is carefully planned and executed to support SEO and to answer the questions that buyers ask for their various roles on buying teams at various stages in the buying journey. It's an important tool for B2B industrial marketing in a world where buyers conduct research online.
Typical content used in content marketing for manufacturers includes webpages, blog articles, press releases, videos, downloadable guides, webinars, checklists, calculators, and more. Some companies also include a podcast in their inbound marketing content materials.
|ai generated image by Dall E|
And content isn't only for lead generation. Sometimes inbound marketing content is also used as sales enablement content to support the industrial sales team, or for customer engagement.
Why Should Industrial Manufacturers Care About "Content"?
Creating content is a hassle for many industrial manufacturers. Although most people use internet search to find answers to their questions (engaging with content on topics important to them), for some reason, many industrial companies maintain that their buyers don't.
Of course, like the rest of us, they do.
Content is how you help Google to help the right people find you. It's how you reach potential buyers who wouldn't have known of you otherwise. It's how to help prospects understand the expertise that you and your company bring to applications, and it's how you induce prospects to share their contact details with you in exchange for some of your particularly valuable information.
In short, it's how you generate leads from buyers who are using the internet, and it's the core function of marketing for manufacturing companies.
Nevertheless, it's a struggle. Consistently creating good content requires senior management support and consistent involvement until a program reaches critical mass. Often, sadly, they start anemically and wither quickly.
How to Create Good B2B Industrial Marketing Content
It's pretty easy to create content. Many companies do. For instance, blog articles that are really more like press releases announcing relatively insignificant events that nobody outside of the company notices are frequently published.
But that easy content has little value. In fact, it can often be counterproductive.
Good content is much harder to create.
Good content speaks to the questions that customers, buyers, and prospects ask. They may be directly about your products, services, and company, but more often, the questions are about the business problems and challenges they face.
Good content is published consistently. For instance, one blog article every week, two web pages every month, one downloadable guide every quarter, one case study every six weeks, and one video every two weeks. It's well-optimized around specific key terms and focuses on a particular buyer persona at a specific stage in their buying journey.
Good content is also easy for buyers to consume. It's written in a conversational voice, free of jargon, and efficiently answers their questions. It's helpful for a company to have a style guide to ensure that content is consistent.
Content Marketing for Manufacturers
Good content is important because inbound marketing content is critical to numerous B2B industrial marketing functions. These include:
- SEO - content is the fuel that helps you rank for key terms and get clicked. It's the key to driving significant and appropriate traffic to your website
- Engaging and converting - once visitors hit your site, your content must interest them, answer their questions, lead them to other interesting ideas, and eventually get them to exchange contact details for more substantive information you provide
- Sales enablement - content also is a tool that your industrial marketing team can use to support their sales colleagues
- Up/Cross sell - content can engage current customers just as it can prospects. Customer success and sales teams can use content to introduce new ideas and answer technical questions
Inbound marketing content can contribute to revenue across the entire customer lifecycle.
That's why it's so distressing that this important pillar of marketing for manufacturing companies is rarely optimized.
And that context, then, brings us to a podcast.
Podcasts have captured lots of attention and energy for the last couple of years. Joe Rogan's monster deal was one factor. And many of us listen to podcasts as part of our entertainment, education, and professional activities.
Important podcast statistics include:
- 177MM Americans have listened to podcasts2
- demographics of podcast listeners (education, professional status, etc.) are impressive
But it's not all roses:
- 44% of podcasts have less than three episodes, and only 720K have more than 101
- out of 3-4MM podcasts, only 700K are active1
- a mere 30 downloads/month puts you in the top 50% of podcasts3
It's really easy to launch a podcast. Platforms like Libsyn make it easy, and Dave Jackson's "School of Podcasting" Podcast is a great resource. Gear is cheap, and editing (average quality) is easy.
But does that mean it's a worthwhile tool for your inbound marketing content creation effort? I'll answer that two ways.
No! A Podcast is Great, but Only After Everything Else is Working
Absolutely not. It will be a distraction. It's easy to launch and hard to maintain. It's a shiny object that will distract you from other important content creation activities. Solid web pages and blog posts will have a much larger impact on your SEO, traffic, and conversions than will any podcast.
Focus on the basics, including solid buyer and keyword research, a strong editorial calendar, consistent publishing on a routine schedule, and tracking metrics to learn about what's working and how to improve it.
When you've got text content pretty well figured out, then add in some video, then some other variations.
Get senior management on board to publicly support the effort and to help hold your internal SMEs accountable to meet expectations regarding helping your marketing team create content. You've got 3-5 years of solid work before you even need to consider adding a podcast on top of your other activities.
Yes! Maybe a Podcast is the Key to Creating Your Content
For sure! Podcasting may be the key to finally getting over your inbound marketing content creation hurdles!
Here's what I mean.
It is brutally hard to get many of your internal technical experts to write content for you or to get in front of a video camera to offer their comments. There are no end of excuses and reasons. And often writer's block and camera shyness are hidden behind claims that it's inappropriate for your company to opine on a topic because it's not your area of expertise.
So whether you're asking them to write, or even to feed you ideas for you to write, it's often an uphill (read hopeless) battle.
That's where a podcast might come in. Just sit down and record a conversation. It could be a weekly service meeting talking about the most recent trends they see in the field. Or an exchange of horror stories from the field. Or a venting session about the things they hate most to see when they go into a new customer. You get the idea - could be any of thousands of easy-to-talk-about, entertaining topics.
Then get them talking.
Nothing says that a podcast episode has to be posted, or posted without drastic editing. But in the meantime, you've got 30 minutes of engaging, energetic conversation from a group that's normally pretty reticent to talk. That recording, and the resulting transcript, become the basis for several content pieces that you or a freelancer can create.
So it could be that a podcast is actually the content laxative that you need to actually clear your content constipation and get your content marketing for manufacturers program moving!!
Pro tip - A skilled and enthusiastic interviewer might help kick-start your program. Check out Scott MacKenzie and his Industrial Talk podcast. He provides services for other companies and could help prime your pump.
Don't Forget Other People's Podcasts
There's another option. Nothing says that the podcast question has to be binary - you do one, or you don't. There are lots of other podcasts out there, and the standard format (interviews with industry experts) means that hosts are often scrambling to find interesting people with worthwhile contributions that are willing to participate.
That's an opportunity for you to find podcasts for which your SMEs would be great contributors. This is an important part of a content distribution and promotion program, and it helps you reach other audiences. Look outside your niche into adjacent areas that are of mutual interest to you and your prospects.
You can also stretch your podcast thinking a bit. Instead of two people sitting behind microphones, how about two people having a Zoom conversation? Or a panel? Why not incorporate engaging conversational formats into your partner marketing approach by inviting recognized experts from adjacent areas to your business to join your SMEs for recorded conversations? This can be a great way to reach their audiences and bring new insights to yours.
A Podcast Could Energize your Industrial Inbound Marketing Content....but Be Cautious
Let those professionals with audiences and refined processes demonstrate their craft.
And then, instead of jumping into producing your own, consider an initial step of simply adapting your mindset to think and capture insights like a podcast, but in support of your traditional content.