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Top Trends in B2B Manufacturing Marketing

By: Alyssa Dannaker

Marketing methods used to attract customers in one market won’t always work in other markets. Take B2B manufacturing for example. This industry requires a marketing strategy that fits its prolonged sales cycle, engineer-minded target audiences and often highly technical product and service lines. So what is your in-house team or agency doing to customize your B2B manufacturing company’s marketing? Take a look at what tactics other manufacturing marketers are using to see if you’re missing out on a competitive angle. Then check to make sure your 2018 marketing budget is in line with the new investments you’d like to make.

Creating More Content

The biggest trend quickly unfolding in the manufacturing industry is content marketing. According to a recent Content Marketing Institute (CMI) study, 85% of manufacturing marketers use content marketing to attract new customers and 80% say the method is an important part of their ongoing marketing program.1 These impressive numbers are expected to rise in 2018 as marketers recognize the need to dedicate more time to creating higher quality content that drives sales and boosts SEO.

CMI content marketing tactics stats
The same study also highlights the tactics most manufacturing marketers are using to capture leads, with newsletters, social and video coming out on top. Video is a growing trend for its ability to showcase more complex products and discuss industry topics through engaging and shareable visuals.

In order to keep up with the demands of content marketing management, marketers are also investing time and money in a number of tools to help plan, create, share and analyze content. 51% of marketers in the manufacturing industry maintain an editorial calendar to give structure to their efforts, 48% operate a content management system to keep track of campaigns and 65% have a dedicated email platform for regular email distribution.1

Building It Up and Breaking It Down

Content marketing that breaks down complex topics serves bottom of the funnel purposes, warranting the attention of busy leadership teams who need to understand the makeup of technical products and why they need them.

The target audience for most industrial manufacturing businesses typically includes engineers – a very difficult bunch to reach. To connect with this target, manufacturing marketers have to work harder than the average B2B marketer, as engineers don’t respond well to simple, digestible content. Instead they gravitate toward detailed technical writing, complex subjects and time-saving guides, thus manufacturing marketers are beginning to create more content that builds upon engineers’ existing knowledge base.

Engineers may constitute one buyer persona for a manufacturing company, but oftentimes it’s not the engineer who makes a purchase decision – it’s the CEO or COO who has the final say. This is an audience on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to content consumption. Content marketing that breaks down complex topics will serve bottom of the funnel purposes because it warrants the attention of busy leadership teams who need to understand the makeup of technical products and why they need them.

Managing relationships with multiple audiences is all about finding the right balance and properly segmenting content to capture the attention of each distinct buyer persona.

Getting Ready for Tradeshows

As in many B2B industries, tradeshows and other forms of traditional marketing are still good lead sources. They give manufacturing companies the opportunity to interact directly with buyers, business influencers, publications and thought leaders, as well as the chance to exhibit brand messaging and products through booths and banners.

Some tradeshow packages offer ad buys in event handouts, which can help with attendees’ brand recall, but the best way to put a face to your company while you’re there is to guest speak on an engaging industry topic if the event allows. Explore all your options when planning for your next tradeshow or conference and don’t forget to scope out the competition to remain on top.

Revealing Friendly Faces

Newsletters are easy ways to notify prospective and current customers that you have something important to say. New blogs, articles, resources and events can entice interested audiences, but email newsletters perform best when they feature the faces of a company. You’ve heard it many times because it’s true: people trust people more than people trust brands.

If you give your employees, engineers and leadership team the spotlight, you’ll increase brand awareness and build trust among readers new and old. Take another look at your website to make sure some faces are visible on your about us page or blog and highlight their expertise when relevant to boost credibility within the industry.

Are you keeping up with these top manufacturing marketing trends? If you’re beginning to brainstorm for 2018, get a refresher on the two basic marketing frameworks that drive all integrated efforts: inbound and outbound marketing. Download a free infographic for handy facts and figures that will help you set a clear course for the year ahead.

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Are you interested in B2B marketing services? Contact Sagefrog Marketing Group today.

1. 2017 Manufacturing Content Marketing: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, Content Marketing Institute