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Learn what types of content are the most effective at different points in your customer journey.

As previously discussed in our buyer's journey post, digital content is critical to your manufacturing marketing plan. Knowing what message to deliver to each client at each stage of their journey can be the difference between an engaged, loyal customer base and a slow trickle of incoming orders.

In this post, we'll discuss how manufacturers can use common content marketing pieces to attract and engage their audience. First, let's talk about what content marketing is and how it differs from traditional marketing.


Table of Contents:


Key Takeaways:
  • Content marketing involves planning, creating, and distributing content that's relevant to your audience and targeted to their needs.
  • marketing differs from traditional marketing in that it's centered on the client's needs, not the seller's message.
  • Blog posts, case studies, whitepapers, how-tos, and guides are all common content marketing tools.
  • Webinars, videos, and social media all fall into this category, as well.


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What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is planning, developing, and sharing content. Specifically, this content should be primarily designed to meet the needs of your target audience. Its secondary purpose is to build up your brand image, position your company as a source of information and help, and help you meet your business goals.

Admittedly, most companies are more focused on the outcomes of their business goals . And that's perfectly fine. When you do content marketing right, this customer-centric strategy actually propels you toward business goals while increasing your customer engagement and conversion rates.

The content marketing process looks something like this:

  1. Identify your target audience.
  2. Understand their buyer journey.
  3. Determine what goals they want to achieve or pain points they are trying to solve.
  4. Create content that's relevant to each stage in the buyer journey and to each problem/goal faced by your audience.
  5. Share this content with the right people at the right time.

Content Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing

How is this process different from traditional marketing? There are several ways, but we'll just mention three:

  1. Content marketing is a conversation; traditional marketing is an announcement.
  2. Content marketing provides insight; traditional marketing provides reasons to buy your product.
  3. Content marketing puts the customer first; traditional marketing puts the seller first.

None of the traditional marketing activities mentioned above are ‘bad”. They just don't invite interaction, which is what today's customers prefer. There's a place for both traditional marketing and content marketing in any organization. But in our experience, most manufacturers need to increase their content marketing efforts.


Challenges Solved by Content Marketing

  • Relevant content – “People aren't reading our blog posts, watching our videos, etc.”
  • Valuable content – “Our content isn't generating leads or converting customers.”
  • Customer engagement – “We're just not connecting with our audience.”


Understanding Content Marketing Tools

In this case, content marketing tools refer to the types of content commonly used at various points in the buyer's journey. (There are software-based content marketing tools for things like SEO, design, publishing, and analysis, but we won't be covering them in this article.) Let's take a quick look at each of them:

Blog posts. Usually associated most with the awareness stage, blog posts are a great way to explain and define a problem your audience may be facing. Blog posts can also feature success stories, product/feature announcements, how-tos, updates, interviews with employees, customers, or industry figures, etc. Keep in mind that the primary purpose of a blog post is to share information, not sell.

Reports. Reports are another great educational tool. Like blog posts, they are primarily meant to inform, not sell. Unlike blog posts, reports often provide an analysis of a broad topic, such as industry trends or challenges. They can be an excellent way to provide value to current as well as prospective customers.

Guides. Guides provide an overview of the solutions on the market and compare/contrast their performance. They are usually consumed early in the consideration phases.

Case studies and whitepapers. Case studies and whitepapers explore how your product/solution solved a specific problem for a specific client. This is a natural fit for the consideration phase. Like blog posts, case studies are meant to be informative; however, it is expected that you'll highlight how you provided a solution to that exact problem.

Product sheets and pricing guides. These are self-explanatory; they're best suited for the decision-making phase.

Video. The B2C world has long recognized videos as an effective marketing tool. Not only would most people rather watch a short video than read hundreds of words, videos are flexible. You can use them as product demonstrations, explainers, how-to, tips and tutorials, expert interviews, etc.

Social media and email. Both social media and email have their own marketing strategies. However, they can complement your content strategy by directing attention to relevant content pieces. That's why B2B companies use social media posts and emails to promote blogs, reports, etc.

Up Next: Nurture Customers via Smart Email Strategies

Email marketing works closely with content marketing. But how can you make sure your emails are delivering value to your customers? Find out in our next post.

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