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Industrial Marketing in 2020 and Beyond

Happy New Year! I recently had a very interesting conversation with Pete Hoelscher, the Acting CEO of IEEE GlobalSpec. He shared his thoughts on the state of industrial marketing in 2020 and the challenges that … Read more

The post, %Industrial Marketing in 2020 and Beyond% by %Achinta Mitra% was originally published on %Industrial Marketing Today%.

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Happy New Year!

I recently had a very interesting conversation with Pete Hoelscher, the Acting CEO of IEEE GlobalSpec. He shared his thoughts on the state of industrial marketing in 2020 and the challenges that manufacturing marketers may face in the new year and beyond.

I get to hear firsthand from my industrial clients about their challenges, but Pete talks to a variety of industrial companies in the US and across the world. His universe is much wider, and his perspective is global.

We had similar views on many of the key points, so it is good to hear that confirmation from him. I would like to thank Mena Buscetto, Account Executive at FINN Partners for arranging the interview and providing the recording.

Without further ado, here’s the audio of my interview with Pete (Note: there is no video). Scroll down to read the transcript in its entirety if that’s your preference.

Audio of my interview with Pete Hoelscher—Industrial Marketing in 2020 and Beyond

Transcript of my interview with Pete Hoelscher—Industrial Marketing in 2020 and Beyond

Pete Hoelscher:   Hello.

Achinta Mitra:  Hello Pete, how are you?

PH:  I’m doing well. How are you today?

AM:  I’m doing well, thank you.

PH:  Great, thank you. I just want to say it at the top of the conversation, and I know you have followed GlobalSpec for quite a while and have reported on our activities and we definitely appreciate that.

AM:  You’re welcome. Yes, your research reports have been very helpful, and it’s very well received by my readers and, like you said, I’ve been familiar with GlobalSpec for a long time and I’ve used it with several different clients.

PH:  Oh great.

AM:  But things have changed, I have to say. So, go Mena, I didn’t mean to interrupt you.

Mena Buscetto:  Oh no, no worries. I’m going to turn it over to you in just a second. So, just a reminder, Achinta, and Pete as well, so I am recording the conversation as we previously discussed, but with that being said, Achinta, I will turn it over to you.

AM:  Okay. Thank you, Mena. Pete, it’s a pleasure to meet you even if it’s only virtually.

PH:  You as well.

AM:  Thank you. Today, I’m speaking with PH. Am I pronouncing your last name correctly?

PH:  Yes, yes.

AM:  Good. He is the acting CEO of IEEE GlobalSpec, and I appreciate you taking the time to share with me and my readers your views and insights on industrial marketing. After all, that is my focus and that’s what my readers come to read on my blog.

So, let me start with a general question. Pete, what are your observations and thoughts on the state of industrial marketing as we move into 2020 and beyond?

PH:  Sure, and thank you, Achinta, for the opportunity to visit with you. I think the state of it is one I’d say is of complexity. Meaning that with digital marketing especially, it is in some ways the easiest way possible to measure results because some things are so instantaneous, but it’s also become some of the most complex because an industrial marketer has to look at all the various channels that their audience is accessing and consuming content.

And it makes the job far more complex to know, what channels do I go after? Do I include? How do I measure the success? And then, the focus on the personas too, right, to really understand, who am I talking to? I’ve got thousands of contacts, but who is this one individual, that persona, how do I interact with them? And so now, you’re adding another level of complexity.

And with the growing focus, we’ve seen GDPR, and now with California starting the new year, with a continuing focus, I believe, on the individuals wanting to have the voice and control over how their information is used and accessed. That also adds the complexity.

So, the industrial marketer, I think, is faced with that set of challenges, in terms of, how do they make the connection with the right people? And also, marketing budgets have always been under fire, especially when times are hard for a particular company. And so, I’ve got these challenges, these complexities, and I’ve got to do it on a budget that rarely is increasing, and is most often staying flat or shrinking. And so, I’ve got to find a way to be successful in that environment.

AM:  Great. I really enjoyed that overview because you hit on some of the key points that I talk about a lot. Industrial marketing is challenging. There’s no doubt about it and trying to force fit B2C or even general B2B marketing strategies and tactics just don’t work.

PH:  That’s correct. The successful industrial marketer is the one who is also always open to learning and knowing what else is out there and what can be used. I mean, there are certainly some lessons probably from the B2C space that I think transfer over, but certainly, definitely some different challenges for the B2B market that are unique to them because, certainly marketing principles apply across both, in the industrial space, because I think the buying process is obviously much longer and the people who are making the buying decisions or influencing the buying decisions, it can be a tough crowd, right?

They really are looking for a level of depth and detail that maybe you don’t see as much on the consumer side. I know in our own research, we’ve been researching engineers for the last five years on an annual basis through our smart marketing for engineer’s survey and it consistently shows, in the last five years, they really want that quality content with depth and some level of objectivity in their buying decision.

And not that you don’t see it on the consumer side, it’s just far more prevalent, and I think almost threshold, on the industrial side.

AM:  Right. I agree with you. Yes. Industrial marketers can certainly learn some valuable lessons from our counterparts in B2C, but the key is to be able to adapt it to this industrial buyers or industrial space.

PH:  Yes.

AM:  Okay. So, based on your conversations and interactions with manufacturers in the US as well as other countries, do you see some major differences between what industrial marketers are actually doing versus what they should be doing?

PH:  Sure. I think one thing that we’re seeing more and more, but there’s still a lot of room left to grow that area in the industrial space, is that whole concept of personas. To really know, “Okay, so who are the different marketing personas that I have?”, if I’m an industrial marketer. Have I defined those? Are they informed through research and experience so that I can then take my marketing program and figure out, “Okay, how do I connect with those different personas in a way that really does feel personal? It does feel the connection.”

Because by doing that, most successful industrial marketers, I think, are beginning to realize, “Wow, that really works.” It cuts through a lot of noise and it gets us closer to having a positive relationship and transaction from a marketing perspective. And so, again, we’re seeing some, I’d say, companies that are on the early edge of that in the industrial space, but many more that have that distance to cover.

And I think the challenge there is to do, I just described, requires having the resources internally or parting with an appropriate agency to help you with that, to understand those personas. And so, I think that is one of the immediate challenges that we see for several still in the industrial space.

AM:  Okay. I think that’s a very valid point because it leads right into my next question. One of the problems that I have seen in my daily work with industrial clients is sometimes they tend to use the one size fits all approach to content marketing. You’ve already touched on this, but can you go a little deeper on why you think that is not such an effective industrial marketing strategy?

PH:  Sure. I think, because what that does, it misses an opportunity, right? So, let’s say if I’ve got my particular component or part that I’m trying to market as an industrial marketer, if I only have one message around that part, I’m only going to resonate with one of my personas. And you can’t just simply say, “Well, it’s for…” Everyone who could possibly be interested in this part. All I got to do is talk about the part and the part will sell itself, it’s so compelling.

It will only be compelling to one subset, and because, I think, for various reasons. One, certainly generations, right? A millennial engineer, or a purchasing agent is, is different than a baby boomer. So they have different ways of looking at the world. They have different things that are going to really get their attention and they’re going to find sticky in that marketing process.

And so, the industrial marketer who only takes one approach and one persona, or even worse, isn’t taking a persona at all and just says, “I’ve got this great product. Anyone who wants that kind of product is going to be interested in it.”, is missing a huge opportunity, and also missing opportunity to really prove to their executives that their marketing budget is valuable.

Because to me, that’s how a marketing person can show so much value internally is like, “Look, our audience is not just a single type of buyer. There are multiple types of buyers for this product. We’ve got to talk to all of them and talk to them in a way that connects to them.”

AM:  Great. Understanding that age difference among engineers is important in making your content and your marketing relevant to the various stakeholders that are involved in the decision-making process. On top of that, typically in industrial sales you’re dealing with a much longer sales cycle. So, keeping in touch with relevant information is challenging.

PH:  Oh, very much so. Right? Because I think, one, have some level patience if you will, in the marketing process in the industrial space, specifically in B2B. And thinking about, again, the demographics of age. And one thing that we see in our own research is that more than 80% of the engineers over age 35 spend more than half of their buying process, which to your point, can be very long based on what it is they’re looking for, online before speaking with someone at a company.

So, while we certainly understand and see it every day that there’s this anxiousness and urgency to get to, “I want to interact with that individual that is interested in the product.”, which is of course very important at the bottom of the funnel, for marketers to realize that and that process to nurture that lead, so much of that happens online with exposure to content that you have to keep track of, and information, and that if you rush that process too much, right, you may not be successful in moving them down the funnel.

And so, content, in terms of breadth and depth and quality is essential for a B2B marketer because, again, in regards to the persona, it’s very much groups that are very strong on, “I want to see unbiased, objective information that allows me to make that decision, helps guide me to that decision.”

AM:  Correct. Okay. Since we’ve been talking about content, let me ask you something that I’ve heard sometimes, and you read a lot about it online. I’m talking about people saying or claiming that there is an information overload because everybody wants to just pump out more content for the sake of content marketing. What do you recommend manufacturing content marketers do to rise above that noise and really engage with engineers and industrial professionals?

PH:  That is really a great point because to me that is both therein lies the challenge and the opportunity. You’re right. People are bombarded because that is one of the challenges of, I think, being both a buyer and being a marketer, right? As a marketer you’ve got to find a way to cut through the noise. As a buyer, you want to find a way to get through the noise and just say, “Where should I go? I almost have so many options, where do I start?”

I think if I’m the marketer though, how I can rise above everyone else in that space is to consistently provide content that is of quality, right? So, and quality defined as, again, there is breadth of the content there and depth of the content. So, if I want to dig deeper, I can.

So, for example, on white papers, our research shows that white papers still are very attractive and well-received piece of information for a buyer in the industrial space. Certainly, product demos, done well, are also very are very interested in by the audience, be it a small video or more detailed how to.

So, I think you have to have different types of content assets to cut through. So, just like with different marketing channels, you need to have, I think, something that is the written word, something that’s video based. So, you have to think through that as a marketer.

And then, you have to really step back. I think this is a real challenge for almost anyone in the marketing place is, am I being almost too salesy in what I’m pitching? Right? Because I think in an industrial space, because there is such a high level of being pragmatic in the buying process, right? Very objective. I want information but I don’t want to be sold to, so to speak. Right?

So, the marketer has got to find a way to navigate that path. That is, I’m checking all the boxes around breadth and depth of content in different ways, in different venues or channels, but I’m not coming across too salesy in that because that will turn people off. So, find a way to balance that.

AM:  Yeah. Sometimes I guess it’s human nature. It is difficult to take the step back and think from a visitor or the customer standpoint and make your content more customer-centric because it’s easy to slip into that, talk about your products, how great you are. And frankly, the audience really wants to know, “How do you help me?”, more than anything else before they want to hear about how great your product is.

PH:  Exactly. Exactly. And so, putting yourself in their place, right? So, it’s easy to fall in love with your own products and they’d be great products and they truly are, but you’re not the buyer, right? You’re not the one who’s going to influence the purchase. So, if you can’t put yourself in that person’s shoes, make sure you go outside, talk to them and find out what will work. You may not think it’s the best video ever made or the best white paper from your own perspective, but it may be exactly what connects your product with that audience.

AM:  Yep. Going out, I’m talking about from a marketer’s perspective, sitting in on sales call or going out with somebody on an actual appointment can be eye-opening sometimes because some of the assumptions we make as a marketer may be completely off when you actually talk to a customer.

PH:  Oh, absolutely. I mean, and even in my own role today, I make it a point to try to regularly have phone conversations with our own clients just to say, “What is it you’re facing?” It’s not a sales call at all. And my part is to understand their perspective, what they’re worried about, concerned about, and then, bring that back inside to say, “Okay, here’s what…”, as part of our overall learning process for our own clients, what does that tell us? We put that into our own process and I love the idea of going on sales calls that you mentioned because you walk away with a perspective that otherwise you wouldn’t have.

AM:  Exactly. Okay. I have read the recent research report that IEE GlobalSpec released. I’m talking about the 2019 Trends in Industrial Marketing. One of the key findings that really caught my attention is that 81% of industrial marketers use both push outbound tactics and pull inbound marketing initiative, which is great. Yet only 24% of the people surveyed are satisfied with their mix.

And I think early in this conversation you mentioned the challenges of channels. Can you tell us a little bit more about how industrial marketers should diversify their channels so that they can maximize their marketing dollars?

PH:  Sure. I think I would start with, do you know what channels your audiences are engaged with? And I know it’s a very fundamental and basic question, but I think before you begin to say, what should my mix look like, you’ve got to start with that question, and then, an informed answer.

Where are they engaging? Right? Is it YouTube, is it white papers, email, newsletters. And what we found in our research is those are still extremely valuable, at least in the engineering space, to audiences. They subscribe to multiple editions, we’ve done in our research. So, but you have to ask yourself first, “Where are they engaging?” Right? And then from there, say, “Okay, so what does that tell me about my channels?” And of course, that can make the balance, well, my budget will only allow me to go to certain ones.

But starting with, where are they engaging? And then, figuring out, okay, so based on that, what are the channels? And I will emphasize it’s got to be plural, because you cannot, I think, put all your eggs in one basket in a particular area for marketing dollars. Because, again, you’ll miss your audience somewhere. Because your audience, regardless of where you are in the industrial space, your audience is engaging in more than one place.

AM:  Correct.

PH:  So, you have to make sure that whatever your plan is accounts for the multiple places that you know they’re going to.

AM:  Okay. Thank you. Yeah, that’s informative because people are struggling with so many choices, so many channels. Where do you put your money to get the biggest bang? It’s not an easy problem to solve.

PH:  Oh, it’s very difficult, right? Even before the digital marketing times, it was advertising and print saying, “Where should I advertise? What are they going to read?”

AM:  Correct.

PH:  And now, the problem’s been compounded because there are so many places to read. Companies have their own websites, and then, associations have websites, and then, manufacturers and distributors have websites. And so, that’s one thing that we have found in our own research is that it’s a challenge being a buyer almost, right? It’s a challenge being a marketer too, but it’s actually a shared, different perspectives, but a shared problem.

That’s why investing in some level of research, if you’re a marketer, for your prospect or client set, to really understand what are the places that they’re going to, I think is so vitally important, and running some tests. One thing in talking to our own clients that we find is, let’s commit to a test for a period of time and see what kind of results you get.

It’s a great way to not just test the waters, but to test your thinking and to validate your thinking, is you don’t have to commit to this necessarily, something for an extremely long period of time, if you’re not sure. If you’re trying to figure out where the best places to go, find the right partner who can conduct a test with you from a marketing perspective, and then, check the results.

AM:  Great. Okay. Can you share with us some information as to how GlobalSpec is positioning itself to help industrial marketers? I’m referring to, say, something like the recent release of Catalyst, your marketing as a service platform.

PH:  So, I’ll talk about Catalyst a little bit, and then, the broader topic of what we’re doing. So, Catalyst is a tool that we’re offering to our clients and to our marketplace that provides, I think, it’s really attractive to those smaller marketing departments, as in, could be one person, could be a short handful, because it’s designed to help that marketer do a lot to nurture leads him or herself.

And so, it has built-in pre-designed templates. For example, if you’re going to nurture the lead from the top of the funnel to the bottom, it allows the client to get their leads from GlobalSpec, each night uploaded. So, they have that at their fingertips. They come in the morning and to manage their campaigns all the way through. And so, we’re very excited about that and proving that type of opportunity and capability to our clients.

On a broader scale for our clients, I think what we do today that adds value is something that we’ve done for a long time. It’s certainly to provide that opportunity to have that client get their information in front of our audience to make that introduction, if you will, of the content, giving them multiple ways to get that content in front of our audience.

So, we have, of course, newsletters, we have white papers, custom articles, product announcements, videos, different ways that people consume content. We can help our clients figure that out and provide that.

But then also, just insight into the engineering mindset. As you’ve done for years, you followed us. So, you know we have the research on an annual basis, but also just on an ongoing basis as we look at, from the broad sense of our audience, what types of things that they’re searching for, looking for? How they consume information. Having some insight onto what we think is going to be most effective for marketing to that group, be able to share that expertise with our clients, I think, is a big part of the value we provide.

AM:  Yeah, I agree. Because I know I have used research findings from GlobalSpec to validate what I’m saying to a client. It’s like me telling them, “Don’t just take my word for it. Here’s independent research findings to validate exactly what I’m saying.”

PH:  Mm-hmm (affirmative). Exactly.

AM:  It’s very helpful.

PH:  Great.

AM:  Okay. Good. Personalization of content, and I think you’ve touched on it already, is becoming more and more important in making content more relevant to different segments of the industrial professionals. Could you provide some guidance on the best practices of personalization while still remaining compliant with laws and regulations such as GDPR?

PH:  Sure. I think that, for me, the fundamental part of successful personalization comes down to respect and trust. Respect and trust.

AM:  Right.

PH:  Meaning that, I think, first you have to earn and maybe I put them in reverse order. You have to earn the trust. If you’re the marketer, you have to earn the trust of that person that says, “It’s important to me and to my organization, to the company, to establish trust with you so that if you share your information with me so that I can provide you a better experience, if it’s navigating to our website, a better experience in terms of being exposed to content.

“If you trust me with your information, I’m going to honor that trust.” And therefore, over time, now we have a respect-based relationship because our research has shown that, again, from the engineering perspective, engineers are certainly willing to exchange information about themselves as long as the content they get in exchange matters to them and is valuable.

AM:  Correct.

PH:  And that could be their work email address, their name, their company name, last name. They’re definitely willing to do that. They understand because they do that in their personal lives, right? As we shop for things in our personal life, if we trust the provider of the information and we like the experience and it doesn’t make us feel weirded out or creepy, we’re very willing to do that.

And that is something, I think, a lesson learned from the B2C side to the B2B side is, you’ve got to take that seriously as an industrial marketer, that you’ve got to earn the trust so you can build the respectful relationship. And so, the practice I think has come exactly in that is that the burden, if you will, is on the marketer to make sure they take the first steps to do that.

And so, if I come to your site as an industrial marketer or how you first contact me, how you come across is everything. So, those first few experiences that I have with you, if they’re brand new, is everything. So, every marketer should really put themselves, again, in the shoes of their audience, of the engineer, or whoever it might be and say, “What’s it like to be a brand new potential customer with our company? What does that feel like?”

That’s some things that we have done internally at GlobalSpec in saying, “Okay, so I’ve just signed up and registered for your site. What does that look like? What’s my experience going to be?” So, I think auditing, if you will, that is vitally important. And then, internally making sure that your process is ongoing, not just are compliant by whatever law, GDPR or CCPA because I think over the next five years we’re going to see that’s going to be pretty much the standard, I believe.

AM:  Correct.

PH:  So, it’s going to be, today, the smart industrial marketer are the ones that are already planning not just to meet the minimum compliance of what’s existing today, be thinking about their internal processes so that becomes almost their standard before it has to become the standard across the country.

But so, look at your internal processes and making sure that you can keep your word about being respectful and having that trust relationship because you don’t want to clearly say something that we’re going to be, and then, you may have some hole in your internal processes that breach that trust. So, making sure that internally that you’re solid on all your operational processes.

AM:  I agree with you 100%. I think earning that trust and respecting their privacy comes before just the technical aspects of compliance.

PH:  Yes, absolutely. And I’m glad you said technical pieces because we think, “Oh, they’re technical buyers.” And all that matters is the rows and columns that the data is, and the bits and the bytes, and now, it matters. It’s important but you’re not going to have a relationship at all unless you base it on some level of trust and respect.

AM:  Correct. Okay. Any final thoughts on industrial marketing that you’d like to share before we wrap up this call?

PH:  Sure. Just a couple of things. I think, as I mentioned at the top of our conversation, complexity is the biggest challenge but there is so much opportunity for the industrial marketer, because there are people who are searching every day trying to find answers to questions. Sometimes questions are simple, sometimes very complex, but they are operating in an environment of a lot of information. Some of it organized, some not. They’re searching for objectivity, unbiased information. They’re looking for it in different ways, through different channels.

And so, as complex and challenging as it is for the industrial marketer, there is so much opportunity for the marketers who do it and do it well, and recognize the environment and adjust appropriately because the people are out there and they’re looking for answers and a really savvy industrial marketer is the one who understands how to present those answers.

AM:  Yep. The opportunities are definitely there. It’s up to the marketer to realize that and understand how best to help us, whether it be the clients, or if you’re an in-house marketing person, your own company. Great.

PH:  Absolutely.

AM:  This has been very interesting. I really appreciate you spending the time, Pete, because it’s great to hear from somebody who’s on, let’s say, on the inside. I get to hear only what my clients are telling me, whereas your world is much bigger than mine. It was really insightful. I truly appreciate it.

AM:  And, Mena, thanks a lot for arranging this. I really appreciate this opportunity to talk to Pete.

MB:Absolutely. No problem.

PH:  Thank you, Achinta. I really enjoyed the conversation very much. Look forward to… Any time if you want to, please give us a call if you have a question or want to bounce something off of us.

Source: https://www.industrialmarketingtoday.com/industrial-marketing-in-2020/

Manufacturing

With Campaign Wins in Georgia, Democrats Control the Senate. What Does That Mean for Biden’s “Build Back Better” Plan?

With ambitious goals for infrastructure and clean energy, Democratic control of Congress offers more hope that significant investment can happen under the incoming Biden presidency.

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There’s strong bipartisan support for infrastructure investment, but efforts to move the process forward have stalled. Will the incoming administration be able to get the job done? Getty Images

With ambitious goals for infrastructure and clean energy, Democratic control of Congress offers more hope that significant investment can happen under the incoming Biden presidency.

It seems like a lifetime ago now, but Georgia Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won seats in the Senate on Tuesday.

While the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is a nonpartisan organization, so we don’t weigh in on the merits of any specific political candidate. But we do think it is worth noting that those victories mean President-elect Joe Biden’s plans to deliver economic recovery through his Build Back Better plan appear likelier to come to actualization.

The twofold victories have secured Democrats’ control of the Senate, though with narrow margins, requiring President-elect Joe Biden to recruit support from conservative members of its own party ,like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.). Biden may also need backing of some Republican members to create the “at least 5 million new jobs in manufacturing and innovation” that the Build Back Better plan projects.

“Georgia’s voters delivered a resounding message yesterday: they want action on the crises we face and they want it right now. On COVID-19, on economic relief, on climate, on racial justice, on voting rights and so much more,” Biden said. “They want us to move, but move together.”

Fortunately, polling has revealed time and time again that infrastructure is a remarkably unifying issue that could offer Republicans and Democrats an opportunity to put differences aside and massively bolster America’s ailing economy.  

With a 50-50 split of control in the Senate, Manchin, one of the Senate’s other conservative Democrats, could play an integral role as a swing voter. Though the senator’s commitment to centrist politics will likely stymie some of Biden’s more progressive initiatives, Manchin has been a strong supporter for infrastructure and clean energy, critical components of President-elect Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan.

“Jobs, everybody agrees on… a pothole doesn’t have a Democratic or Republican name on it,” Manchin said during a recent webinar hosted by the BlueGreen Alliance, Environmental Defense Fund and Third Way.

Reflecting Biden’s own focus on strengthening America’s clean energy industry to boost U.S. employment, Manchin has also backed clean energy technology investment such as the American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA), which he supported this fall.

“[Clean energy technologies] have the potential to create U.S. jobs for workers and communities that need a long-term lifeline. By identifying the policies and industries that will rebuild our manufacturing sector and reclaim our economic future, I believe we can help our workers and their families while reestablishing U.S. leadership in existing and new entirely new energy markets,” Manchin said during discussion of the AEIA bill.

Though infrastructure investment presents an awesome opportunity to rebuild America’s economy, with possible gains of as much as 12.9 million jobs by 2024, there remains no lack of acrimony between the two parties. Funding for Biden’s Build Back Better plan is likely to become a sticking point.

As Vox notes:

“Infrastructure could be one of the few opportunities for bipartisanship; a number of moderate Republicans are willing to work on such a bill, but other Republicans have already begun to raise concerns about the national deficit and additional spending after themselves passing a massive tax cut in 2017 that ballooned the deficit. Still, Biden, who served as a senator for decades before becoming Obama’s vice president, has a long working relationship with McConnell in the Senate. This could prove to be an asset going into his presidency.”

Indeed, Biden’s transition team has already reportedly begun work to muster this bipartisan support during the first year of his term.

The American economy has a long road back to recovery ahead of it. Members of Congress would be wise listen to American voters and support the significant investment in infrastructure and clean energy that promises to create millions upon millions of valuable family-supporting jobs for American workers.

Source: https://www.americanmanufacturing.org/blog/with-campaign-wins-in-georgia-democrats-control-the-senate-what-does-that-mean-for-bidens-build-back-better-plan/

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Manufacturing

16 Ways To Improve Your Manufacturing Blog

A great blog can serve as the foundation of your industrial content marketing strategy and fuel lead generation. If you don’t have a blog, or if the one you have isn’t up to snuff, it may help to go back to the basics and make sure your blog is set up for success.

Before you start putting together your blog posts, you need to have a solid understanding of exactly what you want those posts to accomplish. For most industrial companies, the primary goal of a blog is to take traffic from search engines, social media, and email marketing campaigns and drive those visitors to landing pages — so make sure you understand the goals of your blog. It will influence the way you craft the content.

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A great blog can serve as the foundation of your industrial content marketing strategy and fuel lead generation. If you don’t have a blog, or if the one you have isn’t up to snuff, it may help to go back to the basics and make sure your blog is set up for success.

Before you start putting together your blog posts, you need to have a solid understanding of exactly what you want those posts to accomplish. For most industrial companies, the primary goal of a blog is to take traffic from search engines, social media, and email marketing campaigns and drive those visitors to landing pages — so make sure you understand the goals of your blog. It will influence the way you craft the content.

Agile Magnetics Blog

Blog posts can also strengthen your SEO programs by updating your website with fresh, new content. “Freshness” is one of the most important factors taken into consideration when search engines rank your website.

There are other goals that a solid blog can help you accomplish. For example, it can help solidify your credibility by showcasing your expertise, building trust with prospects and existing customers alike. It’s also a great tool for branding, as you can establish your own unique voice to distinguish yourself in the marketplace. So let’s dive into some ways you can improve your manufacturing blog.

1. Write With Your Buyer Personas In Mind

Hopefully at this point you know who your ideal personas are. You know, those folks or companies  most likely to engage with your content and more importantly turn from a lead into a customer. By establishing who these personas are, you can create effective and customized content that will draw in your specific audience, provide them a solution and put more money into your pocket.

Here are the 3 B2B personas that most we see most typically influence manufacturers, distributors, and OEMs buying processes.

    1. Design Engineers
    2. Procurement Managers
    3. MRO Managers

Learn More About The Three Buyers Above In Our Guide: Persona Targeting For Manufacturers

2. Get Familiar With Basic SEO Principles

Look, we’ll be honest: search engine optimization is an incredibly technical discipline with tons of nuances and constantly changing guidelines. There’s also a lot of mystery — many SEO “experts” spend their time trying to determine if Google has updated their algorithm and, if so, what the heck its impact will actually be.

We don’t expect you to keep up with all of the changes and become an SEO expert — after all, you’ve got a lot of other things to do. However, some core SEO best practices have stood the test of time and will likely positively impact your blogs. We review some of them in the rest of our other tips to improve your manufacturing blog, so keep reading!

Related: Ways To Increase Clicks On Your Manufacturing Website

SEO Vs. PPC

3. Use Google Search Console And Google Trends For Content Ideas

There’s no denying that coming up with new content ideas can be tricky. Sometimes think tanks and brainstorming sessions in house can dry up with no inspiration for new ideas in site. Google Search Console and Google Trends make for two great places to find that inspiration that you need. 

Google Search Console is a tool that reports and measures your site’s traffic performance, indexes pages, and fixes issues to optimize your website better. With this tool, you can see the search queries that show your site in search engine results, but don’t drive traffic. Using these keywords, you can create more detailed and specific content on your website that will perform better in Google and because it’s more specific, it will engage users more and drive traffic to your site.

Google Trends on the other hand allows you to research and analyze popular search queries. By exploring terms specific to your business, products and services you can see which popular topics may be lacking on your website.

For example, let’s say you’re a CNC machine shop for the aerospace industry, and you’d like to bring in more customers from that target. A B2B buyer searching for those services may use service-related terms like “precision cnc machining services,” or industry-related terms like “aerospace precision machining.” That’s an opportunity for you to create industry-specific content using those keywords.

Learn More In: SEO For CNC Machining Companies

4. Build A Blog Content Calendar

Your prospects want factual, educational content regularly and it’s up to you to make that happen. Just like the machinery on your shop floor, your content should run like a well-oiled machine. Creating a blog content calendar can help you organize your content ideas, keep you accountable by staying consistent and better help you develop a content strategy.

You don’t need some expensive software to make this happen. You can use Google Sheets (there are loads of templates!), the free version of Trello, or Airtable if you’re feeling fancy.

See More: Must-Have Marketing Apps And Tools (Including Free Ones)

5. Ensure Your Blogs Have A Strong Word Count

If you think you can crank out a couple of quick paragraphs and publish them as blog posts, you might want to sit down. Posts under 300 words are not recommending for SEO, and may subject your site to ranking penalties for “thin content.” When your SEO efforts aren’t strong, new customers can’t find you online. So that means your posts should be 301 words long, right?

Not exactly.

To have enough “weight” to rank in search engines, blog posts should be at around 700 words in length. However, making your posts even longer is highly recommended; longer content is not only better for your rankings, it can actually be better for lead generation as well.

With that being said, a recent study of search results showed that the average word count for top-ranked pages is a whopping 2,416 words. That’s a lot of copy, and it’s not a realistic number for most manufacturing blog posts. After all, you’re in the manufacturing business, not the writing business.

That being said, you want to strike a balance between managing your resources and optimizing your content. Regular blog posts of about 1,000 words (with occasional longer posts) should help you rank without burning you out.

While the length of your post certainly does matter, the quality of your post matters even more. The time people spend on page reading the article plays a huge role in your rankings, and if your content is awful —  whether it’s 2,500 words of awful or 25 words of awful — people won’t read it, and Google takes note of that. Many manufacturers partner with an SEO expert who has knowledge of the industrial world too to make sure no opportunities are overlooked. (Thomas offers a free digital health check to see exactly what efforts you can improve online!)

Digital Health Check

6. Implement Keywords Your Target Audience Relates To

When your prospects sit down at their computers and begin sourcing for new suppliers, what terms do they use? Those are the keywords that you want to rank for.

Each blog post you write should focus on one of these terms while using up to three other related keywords. Tools like Google Keyword Planner (free), SEMRush ($99 a month), and Moz Keyword Explorer ($99 a month) can help you brainstorm and identify these related keywords.

When writing your posts, keep in mind that your priority is to engage your readers. Therefore, write as naturally as possible, and include keywords where they make sense. Don’t overdo it.

7. Take The Time To Write Clear Blog Titles And Headings

Your title is the first thing people see when landing on your blog post. It’s also the first thing search engines crawl to get an idea of what’s on the page.

Thus, the title of your post is the single most important text element for SEO purposes. Try to work your keywords into your title (without letting it get awkwardly long or distracting).

Depending on your blogging platform, your title and your first heading may be the same. On platforms where these differ, be sure to work keywords into your first heading as well, and utilize the proper HTML tagging (<title> and <H1>). 

Similarly, h2 and h3 tags (heading 2 and heading 3, respectively) also have some value for SEO, as well as for conversion and usability. Use these to break up the topics in your blog post to make it more readable (instead of using bold text), and, when possible, naturally work keywords into these headers as well.

8. Don’t Forget About Adding Metadata

You may have heard of the term “metadata.” In addition to sounding like the name of a villainous conglomerate in a bad Sci-Fi movie, the term simply means data that describes other data. It helps search engines make sense of your web pages so that they, in turn, can help visitors make sense of them in search results.

Here are the types of metadata that your blog posts should have:

  • Title Text: Your title text should be no more than 70 characters. Try to work in a keyword naturally, if possible.
  • Meta Description: This is a short, focused description that should be about 156 characters. Again, write for the reader first, but try to work in keywords if you can.
  • URL: Don’t just use an auto-generated URL (www.yourblog/post7232382938 doesn’t have a great ring to it). Instead, write a brief, keyword-rich, relevant URL. 

9. Link To External Sources — And Your Own Content!

Links serve various purposes; they help guide readers through a story, provide credibility for statistics and information, tie together relevant posts, and drive potential customers to conversion pages. Links also represent a good opportunity to boost SEO.

Here are some guidelines for using links on your site:

  • Internal Links: Include links to other pieces of your content marketing — eBooks, whitepapers, videos, etc. — in every blog post. You should include links to core website pages whenever it is appropriate. Work keywords into the text that you are linking from for maximum SEO impact.
  • Other Links: It’s important to cite sources and link to other high-quality sites to give your blog credibility. However, do remember that these links take your visitors away from your page. So, with that in mind …
  • Set All Links To Open In A New Window: Opening links in a new browser window helps readers navigate to related content without taking their focus off your page. Add a target=”_blank” tag to all links. 
  • Use Absolute Links: Content management systems such as WordPress and HubSpot give you the option to use “relative” links, which means you don’t have to enter your domain name. So “https://yoursite.com/blogpostyoushouldread” becomes just “/blogpostyoushouldread.” While relative links take less time to create and may offer some other advantages, absolute links are preferred. There is much less chance of them breaking; they are easier to bookmark; and they eliminate any issues when search engines crawl your site.

Thomas offer free video production with an advertising program — click here to learn how you can get a free company profile or factory tour video like the one below.

10. Use Images & Visual Elements

You know the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words? When it comes to your blog, that’s 100% not true. You can’t just have one visual on your page. Guide your readers through the page with multiple images to enhance the story, break up text, and keep them engaged.

Images and visuals play an important role in improving the amount of time users spend reading your blog and interacting with other pages. This can, in turn, improve your SEO and help you maximize traffic.

With that in mind, here is some guidance:

  • Make Content Skimmable: If a reader lands on your blog and sees nothing but long, unending blocks of text, they’re likely to get intimidated. Make your blog posts appear more approachable by breaking things up with subheads (which should be your H2s), bullets, tables, quotes, and other content elements. Also, use paragraphs of varying lengths to improve flow. 
  • Use More Than One Image: Every blog post should include at least one image. For longer posts, try to use one post for every 350 words of content. Make sure all images you use include alt text, which appears in place of images when they can’t load or are blocked. 
  • Make Your Content Shareable: A great way to break up a post, boost SEO, and increase social media engagement is to use a Click To Tweet box. Create yours using the free share link generator tool.

Also, did you know you can embed videos into your blog? It keeps readers on your page longer and improves SEO. More industrial marketers are using videos in their content marketing strategy because they’re easy to share and effective at increasing sales. 

Increase Business Revenue Through Video (With Help From Thomas!)


11. Establish A Consistent Style

Establishing a consistent style makes the writing and editing process a lot easier. This is especially important if you make use of guest bloggers or freelancers.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Capitalization: Should your title and subheadings be written in “Title Case,” (Where Every Word Is Capitalized Like This) or “Sentence case,” (Where only the first word is capitalized like this)? There are good and bad arguments for both sides, but everyone agrees that YOU SHOULD NOT MAKE EVERY LETTER CAPITALIZED. Pick one style and go with it.
  • Fonts: Choose a font that is easy to read. Don’t use Comic Sans (we warned you).
  • Colors & Treatments: Use different colors or treatments (bold, italic, underlined, etc.) for your H1s, H2s, and links. Ideally, this should be part of the style sheet for your blog (called a CSS).
  • Tone: The tone of your blog should reflect you, as a company. Are you authoritative? Casual? Sincere? Approachable? 
  • Grammar: Nothing gets people irrationally riled up like a typo. Make sure you proof your work. If you have grammar questions, the AP Stylebook is a great resource. We’ve also rounded up 6 Tips For Self-Revision And Editing.

12. Structure Your Blog Clearly In A Consistent Format

Industrial Blog Layout

While having a consistent style is important, your posts don’t have to look identical. Naturally, a post focusing on a video needs to appear different from a blog post breaking down the findings of a research study.

However, there are some core elements that all of your posts need to have:

  • Title: Make sure it can appeal to your target audience, and include a relevant keyword if possible.
  • Introduction: Set the table for the rest of your post upfront, and work in relevant keywords if you can. 
  • Images: The first image you use should appear near the top of the post, but not directly below the title as this can harm your SEO. If your blog platform supports it, be sure to select a featured image, which will be displayed when your post is shared on social media.
  • Body: This is the meat and potatoes of your post. Again, strive to keep the content skimmable and easy to digest. Don’t forget about the goals and purpose of your blog — make sure your content is valuable to your reader.

13. Establish A Frequency To Posting Your Blogs

Starting a blog isn’t hard. Committing to a blog, however, is a different story. We see so many manufacturing blogs left abandoned on the Internet, collecting dust (instead of leads), and it’s a shame. 

Don’t make that mistake.

Commit to updating your blog at a pace that works for you, your budget, and your resources. The more, the better. Google even favors websites that at least update monthly, so start by posting a blog once a month — it’s one of our top lead generation tips.

14. Create A Quality Control Checklist

You wouldn’t push an order out the door without making sure it was up to your standards. Take the same approach before clicking “publish” on your blog.

Creating a quality control checklist will help make sure nothing is overlooked. Here’s a basic checklist you can use, but feel free to customize it for your needs, style, and blog guidelines:

1.

Is your blog post at least 500 words long?

2.

Did you run a spell check?

3.

Does the title include a targeted SEO term?

4.

Does your post include at least one image?

5.

Do all images have proper alt tags?

6.

Have you set a featured image for the post?

7.

Did you double-check all your links to make sure they work?

8.

Are all links set to open in a new window?

9.

Do all subheads look correct and consistent?

10.

Does the post include a CTA?

15. Close With A Call-To-Action

A call-to-action (CTA) is either text, image, or a button that links directly to a landing  page or “Contact Us” page so your industrial leads can find and download your offer or contact you for more information. It’s a lead generation mechanic necessity. You can place CTAs throughout your entire blog post, but remember — don’t be overly promotional. Drop a CTA about a related eBook in the middle of your blog post or add a CTA to the end of your blog post. There isn’t one exact formula to follow so it’s important you A/B test to see what works best for you.

16. Promote Your Blog Content

Help prospects find your helpful content by promoting it using a multi-platform approach. If you’re new to digital marketing and your website’s domain authority is low, you can’t rely solely on organic search results.

Promote your content on platforms you know your buyers will be. Think industrial spaces like Thomasnet.com (a free listing can put your business in front of 1 million buyers).

We set a record for quotes in Q1, increasing them by 197% over the previous year,” said Ken Carlton, VP Corrugated Metals. “The average value of quotes has grown. We have received orders in the same day. The sales team can’t believe how many good opportunities they have now. Participating in the Thomas program has changed the way I market my business.”

List Your Business Too 

Other platforms to promote your blog content:

  • Social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Newsletter advertising (Reach +310K industrial buyers by sponsoring the Thomas Industry Update Newsletter)
  • Display advertising opportunities
  • Press releases
  • Pay-Per-Click ads

What Else Can You Do To Improve Your Blog?

Following these suggestions will help you form a solid foundation for your blog and get you on your way to increase your website ranking and get you found by industrial buyers. However a blog is just one component to a great content strategy — and although great content is the heart of every inbound marketing strategy, it takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to execute. Not sure where to start? Drop us a line! And in the meantime, visit the below resources for more tips.

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Source: https://blog.thomasnet.com/ways-to-improve-manufacturing-blog

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Manufacturing

Top 10 UK-made sock brands

From sturdy walking socks, warm and cosy merino wool socks, to luxury patterned or plain, our top 10 list of UK-made sock brands feature something for everyone. Socks are often an afterthought when pulling together your outfit, but they can make or break your look. Whether you want them for warmth, comfort, performance or to…

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From sturdy walking socks, warm and cosy merino wool socks, to luxury patterned or plain, our top 10 list of UK-made sock brands feature something for everyone.

Socks are often an afterthought when pulling together your outfit, but they can make or break your look. Whether you want them for warmth, comfort, performance or to make a statement, this list of UK-made socks will have you wishing you were wearing them now!

[Updated January 2021]

Pantherella

Pantheralla Socks
Pantherella

Pantherella Socks have never shied away from setting precedents. When others have turned to cheaper alternatives, Pantherella has held firm in their beliefs, still today making all of Pantherella’s fine English socks at the family-owned factory in Leicester, England. Pantherella’s philosophy of ‘Provenance, Design & Quality’ still rings true today, however, Pantherella’s collections have advanced in leaps and bounds since the early days of Louis Goldschmidt’s basic ribbed socks to create socks for the discerning gentleman and lady in the 21st Century.

Blackshore Coastal Clothing

Blackshore Coastal Clothing
Blackshore Coastal Clothing

Blackshore alpaca walking socks are knitted in England and come with a beautifully constructed cushion sole to offer extra protection when worn for walking with boots. They provide all-round warmth, but they’re also breathable and kind to skin. 

HebTroCo

HebTroCo, Made in Yorkshire
HebTroCo

HebTroCo offers a variety of UK-made socks knitted for them in Bradford, West Yorkshire using British wool. With a seamless construction, you won’t get blisters. Especially good if you like to hike, bike, go running or even if you just spend all day on your feet.Only soft quality fibres used for all-day comfort without being itchy.

Teddy Edward

Teddy Edward, british brand
Teddy Edward

Teddy Edward support British craftsmanship by selecting and working in partnership with the very best UK manufacturers. Try their UK-made socks Brocklesby, Cheshire and Dartmoor luxury Alpaca blend with hand-linked toe seams.

Corrymoor Mohair Socks

Corrymoor Mohair Socks,
Corrymoor Mohair Socks

Made from the luxurious and hardwearing fleece of Corrymoor Angora Goats farmed in Devon. For 25 years Corrymore has been breeding organic Angora Goats and perfecting their mohair socks. Mohair is naturally strong and highly resistant to abrasion so Corrymoor Socks are durable and last longer.

Genevieve Sweeney

Genevieve Sweeney Socks, Derbyshire
Genevieve Sweeney

The story of the Solline sock began when Genevieve discovered a beautiful yarn that was, unfortunately, too fine to knit a jumper with. Undeterred, she travelled to Derbyshire, yarn in hand, to learn the art of knitting socks. The result is the Solline, a luxurious sock crafted from a cotton viscose lurex blend with silk tweeds. Plated with lycra, the socks are beautifully soft against the skin, and seamless toes ensure ultimate comfort. Complete with a colour block heel, toe and cuff, these socks can be machine washed without losing stretch or shape.

Jennifer Kent

Jennifer Kent, Scottish made
Jennifer Kent

Jennifer Kent cashmere socks are the ultimate luxury, combining extreme warmth and delicate softness.  They are knitted and hand-finished in the town of Hawick in the Scottish Borders at a mill with over 200 years of tradition and expertise in textile manufacturing.

John Smedley

John Smedley socks
John Smedley

John Smedley specialises in men’s mid-calf socks; the perfect accompaniment to both office and casual attire. They design, create and produce all their men’s UK-made socks in our factory in Lea Mills, Derbyshire. Whilst socks are often an afterthought, John Smedley ensure that quality is embedded into every stitch.

Peper Harow

Peper Harrow Socks
Peper Harow

Founded in 2013, Peper Harow is a small quintessentially British brand supplying customers across the globe with the highest quality cotton socks and exquisite gifts. Their designs are unique, fashionable and created to complement the modern lifestyle of both men and women.

Their luxury socks are made in a state-of-the-art factory in West Sussex from Supima cotton, Egyptian cotton or Organic cotton.  All of their packaging is FSC approved recycled and recyclable and any plastic we use is recycled and biodegradable.

PITTCH Merino Wool Socks

Pittch Merino Wool Socks
PITTCH

PITTCH is a Great British brand offering Great British design in the form of vibrant, exceptionally styled luxury merino wool socks of the highest quality and fit for all seasons. Discover the warmth and comfort of PITTCH merino wool socks, beautifully designed and popping with colour, to carry you effortlessly through every day, every adventure, every season, never failing to perform no matter what life throws at them.

Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this article about British-made socks. If you want to be included you can join Make it British here.

Source: https://makeitbritish.co.uk/top-ten/top-10-uk-made-sock-brands/

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