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Manufacturing Marketers: 5 Ways to Keep Your Momentum [New Research]

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our annual Manufacturing research study for 2023.

Many manufacturing marketers say they often struggle with getting people in their companies to understand content marketing.

Fifty-one percent say they face a hurdle in overcoming the traditional marketing and sales mindsets while 51% say they’re challenged with creating valuable content instead of sales-oriented content. Half report access to subject matter experts to create content as a challenge.

Those are some of the findings from today’s release of Content Marketing Institute’s Manufacturing Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends With Insights for 2022 sponsored by GlobalSpec.

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51% of #manufacturing marketers say they are challenged to overcome traditional marketing and sales mindsets, says @LisaBeets via @CMIContent @Engineering_360. Click To Tweet

Among other findings:

  • 41% say they sometimes or rarely/never differentiate their content from the competition.
  • 44% say they sometimes or rarely/never prioritize the audience’s informational needs over their own promotional message.

But it doesn’t have to stay this way, especially coming off the fresh, long sting of little to no face-to-face interaction with customers.

In our broader B2B content marketing research this year, many respondents (but certainly not all) said content marketing had become more important to their companies in the earlier stages of the pandemic when in-person events and face-to-face selling became impossible.

Several manufacturing marketers said the same. Some mentioned the change in sales when answering: “What did the pandemic change most about your organization’s content marketing strategy/approach?” Here are some of those responses:

  • “Because our sales team and engineers couldn’t travel, they finally had time to spend on content, such as blogs and videos, which had been put on the back burner. We produced more content than ever before.”
  • “It forced us to start content marketing and add marketing as a focus. We were previously very sales-oriented.”
  • “We relied on marketing a lot more heavily and sales became very invested in the content, as they couldn’t reach customers in person anymore.”
  • “It elevated the role of content, as sales reps were not able to go out on the road as much. Therefore, they had to adopt sales enablement tools and understand better what content to use when.”

However, manufacturing marketers still must guard against going back to the old ways of thinking. As one respondent said: “We finally started to embrace digital marketing. Our company leadership is extremely old-school and slow to change/adapt to current trends.”

Though #manufacturing #content marketers made progress when sales couldn’t employ traditional methods, they must guard against going back to the old ways of thinking, says @LisaBeets via @CMIContent @Engineering_360. Click To Tweet

That’s the warning sign. While the pandemic may have gotten many more on board with content marketing, the danger lies in keeping that momentum going – and not falling back to the old ways.

Keep the positive momentum

Here are some ways to ensure your manufacturing company stays on a positive path with content marketing.

1. Stay in touch with top leadership

Keep executives abreast of the content creation work you’re doing and why. Work with them on your content marketing strategy or share it with them if you create it independently. If you don’t have a strategy, develop one now. If they try to change your strategy, be prepared to defend it if necessary.

2. Communicate regularly with sales

Many sales reps learned the value of digital content when they were unable to physically meet with prospects and customers. Meet with sales at least once a month and weekly if possible so they continue to see its importance. CMI’s 2021 sales-enablement research found 64% of the most aligned marketing and sales teams always/frequently collaborate on content topics – be sure your company is among that group next year.

64% of the most aligned marketing and sales teams always/frequently collaborate on #content topics via @CMIContent #Research via @LisaBeets @Engineering_360. Click To Tweet

3. Secure a 2022 content marketing budget, so your content marketing can remain competitive

The research shows 64% of manufacturing marketers expect their content marketing budget in 2022 to increase over 2021. Eighty-five percent expect continued investment in video in 2022 followed by events (68%), owned media assets (59%), and paid media (57%).

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4. Have a solid content distribution strategy

Only 19% of manufacturing marketers say they plan to invest in content distribution in 2022. If your distribution strategy is strong, that may be adequate. But if you’re not achieving your content goals, revisit your distribution approach. Great content is useless if it isn’t reaching the intended audience.

5. Measure your results

Three-fourths of manufacturing marketers measure content performance. Of those, 26% say they are doing an excellent/very good job and 55% report doing an average job. Make sure you are among the group measuring content performance and delivering on expectations. Leadership will want to see what you are accomplishing.

More findings from manufacturing marketer research

Videos ranked as the most used (86%) content type, followed by short articles/posts (83%), and virtual events/webinars/online courses (70%). Videos also were the content type manufacturing marketers said produced the best results.

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Video was the most used and most effective content type used by manufacturing marketers via @CMIContent @LisaBeets @Engineering_360. Click To Tweet

Virtual events/webinars/online courses were used by 70% of manufacturing marketers, a 15-percentage-point increase over the previous year. This makes sense considering the loss of in-person events.

While 88% say they used content marketing successfully to create brand awareness, only 67% use it to build credibility/trust, and 63% to educate the audience. These findings indicate more manufacturing marketers can use their content to build and nurture relationships with prospects and customers.

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Rethink your manufacturing content marketing strategy

Don’t let content marketing opportunities pass you by. Now is the perfect time to reevaluate your content marketing strategy and amp up the ways you create, distribute, and measure content. As you can see by these findings, manufacturers still have room to build credibility and trust, educate their audiences, generate demand/leads, and so much more with content marketing in 2022.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute