It's not advertising
nor is it
It's about applying your company's huge store of information & expertise to help educate prospects and customers so they can make informed decisions.
It's content marketing
Grab your tablet, mute your phone and shut down your mail client for 40 minutes to watch this powerful video from the Content Marketing Institute. It demystifies content marketing (or inbound marketing, digital marketing or as David Meerman Scott whose blog tipped me off to this video calls it, simply marketing.)
Oh, and by the way, done right it will change your company; cultivate one-on-one relationships in the market; and change your approach to business.
This is about management consulting.
That may be a problem
Many mid-size industrial manufacturing companies have a rather dim view of management consultants. (Probably viewing them with about the same regard as marketers!)
This picture illustrates the problem. Imagine how this conversation goes. Kim may know his way around a piece of Emmental cheese, but I'd be willing to bet he's not a great authority on the operation of a commercial bakery. But you can envision the scene as he glibly opines on the operation. Not only does he not understand issues of HR, raw material procurement, food safety, flavor, shelf life, mixing, portioning, cooking, cooling, packaging and distribution, but he certainly doesn't understand the finance of the business. His qualifications as a consumer don't provide value here. Yet this isn't much different than the experience many manufacturers have with management consultants.
The skepticism of folks that actually invent and make stuff is understandable. Spreadsheets, 2X2 matrices and lavish expense accounts don't generate value. Effective consulting requires the ability to identify key issues, the perspective to envision great solutions, and the expertise to help achieve lasting change. Industry experience isn't an unalloyed benefit as it can often entail myopia. Rather broad business perspective and acumen allow great consultants to identify similarities between situations.
Translating content marketing to business vitality
Typically a conversation around content marketing turns into a discussion of keywords, topics, software and, in some cases, leads. Then it pretty quickly devolves into a discussion of how to actually produce content. Convinced that they "can't write" B2B companies hang up here. (The answer is a mental cleanse. Eliminating the jargon toxins like 'world class' and 'industry leading' allows them to have a conversation just like those that they have with real customers every day solving real problems. Maybe the solution is to try to figure out how to make your business content more like sports. Sports, in fact, seems to be the one thing that actually engages people enough to induce them to endure the indignity of intrusive ads and cable customer service! After all, what's the only printed paper you see in an airport men's room? The sports section.)
Those are important tactical topics - but solid management consulting approaches the challenge differently, asking questions like:
- How can content marketing be used to deepen the connection with customers?
- Can the business scale production? How quickly?
- What rate of growth can be financed and managed?
- What strategic goals are attainable beyond simple revenue growth? Increased valuation? Other strategic assets?
- How can marketing be used to identify disruptive opportunities while competitors pursue an incremental product roadmap?
- What are the implications to traditional sales channel?
- What new markets (vertical, global) can be reached feasibly that would have been prohibitively difficult before?
- Are there strategic partnerships? Acquisitions? that would make sense based on a broader industry perspective?
- How are the traditional organization and resource allocations of an industrial manufacturing business model misaligned with today's buyer expectations?
- How will the sharing economy change the business model?
- What are extreme (and likely) implications of 3D printing to the manufacturing and distribution model?
- Will IoT change customers' expectations of the value they expect from this product category?
- Is the right sales team in place to sell these types of leads?
- Is adequate data analysis capability in place? Can finance provide this? Do we need more?
- How will this effort position the business and owners for transition success / growth opportunity as boomers flood the market with businesses for sale?
- How do we create a "culture of content" in a product focused, technology based company?
Obviously there are many more - and the exact questions are dependent on the specifics in each case.
Want another tie in with content marketing? Not only should your digital marketing help position your company for strength as you wrestle with these issues, but your content should be helping to get your prospects thinking about how these sorts of questions/issues are going to be impacting their businesses! (And eventually maybe a bit of how you can help them win.)
The point is that content marketing is different than, for instance, SEO. The latter is a very technical, tactical discipline. Content marketing, in contrast, opens the door to an entirely different relationship with prospects and customers. That creates incredible opportunity for a company, it's owners and employees - as well as for the marketplace.
But the value can only be fully realized by applying the approach in conjunction with the depth and breadth of superb management consulting.
Want to learn more about how industrial manufacturing companies can apply the content marketing approach to their business growth? Download our free eBook here.