Today more than 70% of the buyer’s journey is completed long before a prospect connects with a sales representative. Now, the role of the marketing department has transitioned from simply supporting sales teams to developing content that directly aligns with the information a buyer is seeking.
Akin to accounting, marketing is rapidly growing as a department within manufacturing. With the right tools, a Marketing Director can elevate themselves within the organization and have crystal clarity about the value they bring.
Often in the industrial companies we work with, the “marketing department” often falls on the shoulders of a single person. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with tactics and tasks to support the sales team, or to feel like marketing is operating in a vacuum of legacy marketing tactics like tradeshow management. As a result, the digital presence of many industrial companies is often pushed to the backburner.
Historically, manufacturers have done well with incredible sales teams and marketing has largely played a small, supportive role. As a result, manufacturing has been slow to adopt digital marketing practices. But the truth is, your customers are looking for information online long before they purchase. So, no matter how great your sales team may be, if they aren’t getting calls because your website isn’t doing them justice, you aren’t selling.
Businesses without an updated web presence are missing out on not only the opportunity to build brand awareness but the chance to establish themselves as the expert in their industry, reach more customers and understand how to best serve them. But a solid digital marketing strategy is more than social media statuses and fancy graphics, it starts with a deep understanding of who your target customers are, and what buying experience they want.
What kind of content you create or share depends on who you are trying to attract. A best practice is to always start with the customer. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer.
“The key to successfully using buyer personas is focusing on your most profitable customers.”
A key component of successfully creating buyer personas is that it is not one single customer; in general, we recommend limiting your personas to 3-5 of your top customers. Trying to reach too many people will likely overextend your marketing team and reduce the effectiveness of any of your campaigns. In this case, less really is more effective.
If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re reaching no one.
Each persona is an amalgamation of a number of different customers with common challenges, goals, and common objections. We usually find it’s easiest to lump customers together by a shared demographic such as role, industry, location, or demeanor.
As a marketer, your goal should be to engage with customers early on and support them along their journey. Putting in place a solid inbound marketing and content strategy will help you do just that.
When it comes to content, one size rarely fits all. Delivering the right content, to the right people, at the right time is the cornerstone of effective content marketing. Content mapping is the process of doing just that.
It may sound intimidating, but content mapping is just a process that will help your buyers make a decision in your favor, and also leave a positive impression, which influences their purchase decision.
Learn where they are going to find information and what they’re looking for in their decision making process; then, determine how to create content to meet them where they are already looking for information about your solution.
You’ll need to think about when they’re most likely to be ready to consume this content in relation to what stage they’re at in their buyer’s journey. We call this content mapping, and the goal is to target content according to who will be consuming it (that’s where buyer personas come in) and how close they are to making a purchase. Here are some content ideas at each stage of the buyer’s journey:
Creating resources like blogs, videos, podcast, ebooks, testimonials, white papers and guides are a great way to begin building the much needed trust before a sale is made. Not only is this type of information beneficial in the knowledge seeking awareness stage, but it will help your sales team gather lead information they can use to move potential buyers along in your sales funnel.
Before jumping in with the sales pitch make sure you understand your audience and where they’re at in the buyer’s journey. The key is to focus on being educational and to guide your readers to a solution. Show them you’re the expert they didn’t know they were looking for. Not only will you be helping them out no strings attached but you’ll also begin to build a foundation of trust and expertise—a must for turning potential leads in paying customers.
Content that is in alignment with your company’s message is crucial in order to increase brand recognition and build trust with key customers and leads. It’s more than worth the time to develop content targeted to your business’ buyer personas and that resonates with your prospects.
A solid message strengthens your brand and increases visibility, allowing your message to reach a wider audience. Consistency is key for any marketing strategy to work. Create foundational content gets right to the point, highlight what problem you solve for your customers and why they should choose to work with you.
Consistent, branded content will gain the attention of prominent decision makers in your target industry and ultimately generate leads that trust your products and brand. Sharing carefully curated content two to three times a week will keep you top of mind. It will also give you the opportunity to get to know your network more as they interact with what you share.
You’ve probably already heard or read about how your business needs content marketing. When leveraged correctly, it builds brand awareness, establishes you as a thought leader in your industry and, most importantly, connects you with leads. But if you’re like many of the B2B businesses we’ve worked with in the past, you’re not sure if it can really work for you or if it’s something you can pull off internally.
Taking the time to discover key insights about your company and industry often allows you to see a faster ROI than traditional marketing because content and social media engagement becomes hyper-focused, attracting and converting the right people.
You might be wondering how you could possibly be saving money if you’re hiring someone. For many manufacturers, the marketing team consists of one, maybe two people. Building an inhouse team of people with the expertise to execute your content marketing efforts can quickly become expensive, with the average national salary of content strategist being $71,000. That’s not including other expenses such as marketing automation softwares and any other tools they would need to do their jobs well. If your company doesn’t have the financial resources to hire someone or train current employees to learn how to use content marketing effectively, it might just make more sense to partner with an outsourced team of experts.
At Strategy House, Hubspot has been the best choice to tackle the four most important sales and marketing tools all on one platform. Hubspot allows us to track, analyze, and report performance from our social media efforts, company website and customer relationship management (CRM) all with the help of marketing automation.
A fully responsive, SEO-friendly website can easily be created through HubSpot. However, in order to understand whether the content and design are doing its job, there are a few key performance indicators (KPI) to pay attention to which can easily be found through Google Analytics. These are:
If your social media activities aren’t related to your business growth goals, they aren’t serving a purpose. The best solution for tackling your social media strategy is a hybrid solution of internal and external resources. Set a social strategy that will resonate with your ideal customers, and ensure your team has all the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to implement.
As your business evolves, information overload can set in. A well designed CRM will keep everything in place, from contact information and sales cycle to communication channels. Having key information in one easy to find spot, makes for seamless communication and allows your sales team to spend more of their energy on what they do best - closing sales.
Marketing automation can help scale your business by automating tasks like emails, social media, and customer relationship management. Hubspot makes marketing automation easy by focusing in on where your customer is in the buying cycle and what their needs are. It then provides them with the necessary information they need to buy or get in contact.
The data you collect will shift over time and consistent reviews are necessary to fully understand the whether your digital strategy is making an impact on your business goals. Continually tracking and measuring results will provide insight to what’s working for your customers and what’s not — making it a must if you want to meet your customers' needs and see real results with your strategy.