We work with a lot of manufacturing companies and one of the questions we get most often is ‘Why do we need to blog’? Often followed by ‘How do we blog for manufacturing’? A word about what a blog is. When manufacturers think about manufacturing blogging, they think about writing, and along with public speaking, writing produces an almost visceral reaction in many people. Thinking about writing and publishing creates a reaction of fear.
But a blog is not all writing and the part that is written should be conversational and natural. You are not writing a novel, you are talking to people just like you do all day every day face-to-face.
Blog post format can be just about anything:
- Podcast or audio
- how to’s
- Reference materials
- Summary of other articles
- Photo gallery
There is almost no end to the options for the format of an individual blog post. A post could be two sentences or a 5,000-word essay. Or a video shot on the factory floor using a mobile phone or a produced training class about an innovative technology.
A blog post is anything that your readers/prospects/customers want by way of topic in a format they will consume.
So now we know what a blog is but why is manufacturing blogging a great idea and not a waste of time:
To Help People
That’s why you here right, to help people. What better way to do that than to start publishing articles about their issues and sending them straight to their inboxes (if they opt in).
And the key statistic stat in my mind – 74% of sales go to the first company that was helpful.
The principle of reciprocation outlined by Robert Cialdini explains why. “We like to reciprocate when someone gives us something for free or helps us.” So those being helpful online before a prospect even talks to the company win a large % of the time.
To Get Found
Many manufacturing companies have a ‘set it and forget it’ philosophy when it comes to their websites and online marketing.
Search engines like additional content served in an easily findable and consumable way and a blog fits both of those goals quite nicely. Adding more content to a site also tells the search engines that a site is relevant since it is growing. Each blog post is a new webpage. Estimates vary but somewhere around 300-400 total indexed pages on a site will trigger an improvement in search rankings.
How many manufacturers have a paltry 20-40 pages of product focused content? Those sites are not going to get found much.
Google ‘percent of B2B purchases that start with a search’ and you’ll see many studies showing that the number is somewhere around 66% to 93%, and many of these surveys are a year or two old. That number is surely going up so a blog is an ideal way to create content that is targeted to a narrow topic and audience. Just the long tail focus that searchers are looking for.
And there are other benefits when it comes to SEO. Answer a specific question well and you might be rewarded by a features snippet. These answer the question posed in the search result with net effect of a significant increase in views and clicks to your site around that topic.
Here is an example from one of our clients:
Over 4.6 million results for this question and our client not only has the featured snippet but the organic positions 1 and 2. They own this search question.
Drive traffic and leads with blog posts all while being helpful. A win all around I would say.
To Increase Customer Engagement
Manufacturing companies say to me ‘no one wants to read about our stuff’ or ‘there is nothing to write about’.
We recently engaged with a company and had lots of inbound lead generation success and revenue generation, with their blog being a key aspect of the plan. Read the story here. The sales team remained skeptical about the power of manufacturing blogging until they went to a large industry trade show. The sales team started to hear comments from people they did not know that went like this:
“We love your articles and look forward to getting them every week”
“Thanks for sharing all of the helpful tips, we share them with our team all the time”
“Can you write about this or that topic in the future”
Their prospects and customers were paying attention and wanted more great articles!
Write about what your target audience needs or wants and they will love you for it. You can also use your blog content to power your email campaigns, sales process improvement, prospecting, and getting referrals.
Blogs are great content for email campaigns, follow up emails, social media, LinkedIn, and direct sales outreach. Be creative, find ways to share and promote your content and build engagement for your company and your team.
B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not.
And if you need more reasons than that check out this article that happens to be a helpful blog post.
To Build Trust
Marcus Sheridan once told me, “Helping, that’s the essence of the they ask, you answer process. We don’t base our decisions on competitors. We don’t base our decisions on bad fits that aren’t ideal customers or clients anyway. We base our decisions on those that are a good fit for our business. If that is whom we’re focused on then it gives us the ability to communicate however we want and be totally honest and be totally real. We don’t have to fluff it, we don’t have to do any of that stuff. We can just be straightforward with the information and give it to them as they would want to hear it. That would win us trust and ultimately that is what drives revenue.”
Not sure I can say it any better than that!
So that’s why you should blog if you are a manufacturer, Now, on to the second question.
How to start manufacturing blogging and what to do?
Brainstorm a List of Ideas, Topics, and Types of Posts
Sit down with your customer facing people like service folks, marketing team members, and of course, salespeople. Even those on in the technical departments understand customer issues.
Start by listing all the areas and topics they think are important. Ask your team to write down every question they answer for prospects and customers during one week. These could be done in person, on the phone or in emails. Once you think of your answers in terms of blog content you will have a wealth of topics to blog about.
You already know what these things are. The ones they ask you about all the time.
Speed, savings, downtime, safety, integration, uptime, quality, throughput, preventive maintenance, repairs, rebuilds, retrofits, logistics, shipping, rules, regulations, etc.
To give you some concrete ideas the following is a list of diverse types of blog posts, all real live examples from our clients:
- recent trends in your industry or predictions for the future
- new rules or regulations
- news jack a story in the headlines and relate it to what you do
- a story about how you solved a problem for a customer, make sure to state the problem that needed to be solved, how you did it, and then the list measurable results attained
- industry specific solutions
- video of your solution in the field
- a how to story
- a best story, best way to fix this problem, 11 best places to get that answer, etc.
- checklist to run through to prevent something from happening
- explain something, why do these tools look this way?
- a history lesson
- announce an event
- talk openly about pricing (hint, they all know what your stuff costs anyway)
- detailed story of an application of your technology
These topics become your keywords and form the basis of your get found optimization strategy. Because in the end SEO is about the search engines giving the searcher what they want, the best answer to their question.
Pick a Tool to Use
Here is a great article about the best manufacturing blogging platforms and a good example of the type of post that comes up when I search ‘best blogging platform.’ Site hosting and marketing automation tools like HubSpot include blog modules. Word Press is a popular choice if you don’t have a marketing automation platform in use. Other options like Blogger and Tumblr exist but always make sure to use one that is cost-effective and user friendly.
Learn to blog by following other blogs and copy what they do until you find your groove. Lots of resources exist to help you with manufacturing blogging like Moz.com, HubSpot, copyblogger.com, problogger.com, and dailyblogtips.com. Check out blogs in your industry, competitor blogs, and anyone related to your customer’s interests. Watch how they blog, when they post, how often they post, what they write about, look at the details to see what works.
This blog is a notable example for manufacturing companies. This blog is a strategic asset for Cerasis and helps position them for success and delivers all five of the benefits of manufacturing blogging to the company, and more.
The key is to get started and to stick with it. Overnight success is not your goal. Consistency and quality are what you need to strive for.
Blog What You Know, Not What You Sell
Theodore Levitt, the famous management consultant, once said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter inch hole.”
Blog about the results of what you do. Your expertise is in the way to solve problems and deliver results to your customers.
What is your expertise? It is not your product, or service, but the results of the application of it.
You sell what your customers get from their perspective. Crate blog posts that describe and show benefits, improvements, savings, quality, avoidance of risk, etc.
Leadership needs to buy in first and foremost. Top down works here since there needs to be an ongoing commitment to blog.
Once leaders are on board make sure someone owns the blog and the process, and connect the blog to your corporate goals.
Do you have a goal to enter a new market? Connect the blog to that goal by writing attractive content to that target audience.
Need to drive more leads? Tie the blog to new traffic generation, SEO, and lead conversion.
Need to stay connected to your existing contacts? Tie the blog to interactions with your existing contacts and new upsell, cross-sell, and service opportunities.
To run a manufacturing blog successfully it must be tended, consistently fed, and nurtured. If well done a manufacturing blog is a strategic asset and one of the best long-term investments you can make.
But it does take time, consistency, commitment, creativity, and effort. Manufacturing blogging is not always easy but like most things, if you stick with it, you will get better at it over time, and you will see a nice return on those efforts.
To be successful you need to have goals. You know about goal setting, make them timely, specific, achievable, measurable and assigned to someone. What do you want to accomplish?
- Grow your reach
- Increase leads
- Engage your audience
- Support sales efforts
- Raise awareness about a problem and solution
- Save money by answering customer questions
- Increase opportunities to upsell and cross-sell
- Stay ahead of competitors
- Engage your internal team and have some fun
Figure out why we want to start manufacturing blogging question and then measure your results against those goals. Make sure you set realistic goals since starting a blog and maintaining one is a commitment that requires time to build and nurture. Measure your performance and connect the results back to your company goals and you will be well on your way to creating a unique asset for your company.
That is how to blog for manufacturing.
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