In a conversation with Industry Today, ThomasNet publisher Paul Gerbino talks about his organization’s new white paper, “Content Marketing for Industrial Companies,” and discusses how and why, as we move even further into the 21st century, content marketing has shifted from an advantage for B2B companies to an absolute need. Steve Engelhardt reports.
The world is changing. Industrial buyers have become much more sophisticated and with a slew of options available to them, in terms of suppliers and products. As a result, the power has shifted in their favor as purchasers.
Today, effective marketing requires a dynamic approach that allows businesses to paint the picture for their customer, in a manner that appeals to a variety of different decision makers. Enter content marketing, something that has been around for centuries but has just recently become an increasingly critical component of a company’s game plan in communicating with others.
“Now that content marketing has become crucial to a complete marketing campaign, we felt the need to publish this white paper, and in doing so, clue companies of all sizes in on the best practices in terms of B2B content,” says ThomasNet publisher Paul Gerbino, referencing his organization’s “Content Marketing for Industrial Companies” piece.
Gerbino says that part of the challenge for any business is building a brand, or gaining trust in the marketplace, particularly if the company is an emerging one that isn’t particularly well known. Yet he says that today’s marketing isn’t so much about selling, but rather educating and informing companies ahead of time about their marketplace as a means of establishing credibility with them. “You’re really able to grow the belief across the market that your company is the ‘smart guy’,” he says, adding that, “and by getting your company’s brand to the top of the line, if or when these businesses have to make a purchase they’re going to remember you.”
Painting the Picture
One of the biggest messages in the white paper, and something Gerbino really highlights, is that marketing is like a mosaic. Mosaics are made of numerous little tiles that come together to form a coherent picture. In marketing, and more specifically content marketing, the tiles represent different forms of content that create the picture prospects and customers want to see. These can be in the form of blogs, social media outreach, press releases, or videos. These efforts serve to engage the audience and help better inform them about their industry or marketplace, with it all eventually tying back to the company providing the information in the first place.
“Marketing cannot be about you, meaning the advertiser or marketer, it has to be about the prospects and their needs,” Gerbino says, adding, “if you make it about them, it builds trust, which is a very important factor, especially in B2B purchases.” He says there is greater risk in B2B purchases compared to consumer purchases, where you only have to answer to yourself. But with B2B purchases, if an individual buys something and it doesn’t work out, there’s executive management that they have to answer to and potentially suffer consequences from.
“In any given company there can be anywhere from four to six, or even more, decision makers, and each of these people could have differing opinions, needs, and values from each other,” Gerbino says, adding, “so you need to find ways to reach all of them in a manner that they can relate to.”
Doing It Right
The paper says that 9 out 10 B2B marketers are now relying heavily on strong and effective content marketing. But what exactly is strong and effective content marketing? Gerbino points to one example, The Rodon Group, a plastic injection molding company based in Hatfield, Penn. “What they did was build a whole content marketing campaign around the concept that you don’t have to buy from China to keep expenses down, and communicated this through numerous channels” he says.
The company stressed that in fact, by buying American, the cost of acquisition and usage is actually lower. By centering on a “Buy American” theme, they displayed the value of companies who manufacture their products in the U.S., and positioned themselves as one of those doing just that.
“They were able to grow their business by more than 30 percent over two years and even garnered the attention of the White House, as President Obama actually traveled to their facility in Pennsylvania and gave a televised speech about his economic plans for his second term,” Gerbino says.
Gerbino says that one of the biggest challenges B2B companies encounter when trying to effectively employ content marketing, is having the proper employee bandwidth and commitment in developing consistent, useful content. “If people are posting on a company’s Facebook page, tweeting at them, or commenting on their blog, the company needs to be able to respond in a timely manner so that they maintain positive engagement,” he says. Gerbino says the most effective way to handle this is by designating a staff member to oversee it, or outsource the services to businesses, like ThomasNet, who have a thorough understanding of the elements that go into content marketing, along with an understanding of specific B2B and industrial segments.
Either way, content marketing is something that B2B companies really need to employ, or at least factor into their business plans. With the ushering in of the Internet era, there are a vast amount of channels in which you can reach the marketplace.
However, in doing so, it has created a higher demand for stricter discipline in producing consistent, high quality content. “What we’re finding is that not all companies who are doing content marketing are doing it as well as they can,” Gerbino says. “That’s one of the reasons we put together this white paper, to show companies that content marketing can take your business a long way, and reach audiences in a manner that they can understand, and identify with.”
ThomasNet is an information and technology company that connects manufacturing and industrial buyers and sellers. Buyers and engineers worldwide rely on ThomasNet.com®, industry’s leading free platform for industrial/commercial product sourcing and supplier discovery. ThomasNet News® delivers industrial news and trends via a family of online publications and newsletters.
They enable suppliers to leverage their product content to increase sales, using their proprietary Navigator Platform technology. They also offer a suite of Internet and digital media solutions, from websites with product catalogs, to SEO/SEM services, to social media. Their Enterprise Solutions offer suppliers the benefits of syndicating product data across systems and sales channels.