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Four myths about content marketing to engineers



I had a good chat with the CEO of a major industrial publisher this week. He said they were seeing record levels of interest in content marketing campaigns from industrial marketers.  

This is news because it represents a shift in who is using content marketing.  It is no longer the sole domain of  software companies.  Instead, it is now factoring into the marketing plans of a much broader group of engineering marketers.

Marketers who are relatively new to content marketing unfailingly run up against challenges.  Content marketing is different than typical “campaign-oriented” marketing in several ways.  With that in mind, let’s look at four myths about content marketing.

Myth #1: Content marketing is a type of campaign

Many marketers think they can start-up and turn off content marketing like any other sort of campaign. The reality is that content marketing is more of a different mindset - sort of like the difference between going on a diet and making a long-term change to your eating habits. 

When you are a content marketer, you are always on the lookout for good stories that support your brand

  • What are our customers saying?
  • Is there a related story in the engineering press?
  • Can we share insights from our market research to support the introduction of a new product?

Once this mindset is spread across your entire team, you will have a stream of stories ready-to-hand rather than always having to seek them out when you need one.  These stories can then be integrated into all of your execution, from emails to webinars, white papers to press releases, etc.  If you approach content marketing as a separate activity it will i) cost too much and ii) fail to deliver on its potential.

Myth #2: CFO’s love the high ROI from content marketing

It is true that content marketing typically has an awesome return on investment (ROI).  That said, there are two reasons why you may have trouble convincing the accountants to support it:

  1. It takes a while to get the full return. Most content marketing pieces have an initial bump in traffic that you can (I hope) track to conversions and sales pipeline.  However, what is often missed is that good content pieces will keep on pulling traffic and conversions for years. Since most budgets are quarterly or annual, you need a longer planning horizon that the financial folks typically consider.  It’s more like an investment than an expense.  All of our editors can point to stories that we wrote years ago that are still ranking as the top search result from Google.
  2. The financial return from content marketing can be difficult to track. You may not immediately be able to answer questions like, “Why is your traffic higher six months from now?” or  “Why are there more form fills?”  If you don’t have a reasonably sophisticated approach to tracking your customer’s journey, you may have trouble proving that it was content marketing that is making the difference.

Myth #3: Content marketing = SEO

While SEO should one of your objectives, it isn’t the whole story for content marketing.  You also can use content marketing to demonstrate thought leadership to your potential prospects. 

In some cases, you may want to introduce problems that prospects don’t know they have.  Take Internet of Things devices for example.  With so many manufacturers launching new products in this arena, they will soon be encountering problems with data management, remote sensing, communications protocols, etc.  Companies that target the engineers working on those projects may want to focus as much content on getting attention for new concepts as on driving search traffic. 

Myth #4: Producing content is a marketing function

Our research shows that the most trusted source for an engineer is another engineer.  So if your marketing team is creating content, they better have years of industry experience, or be interviewing engineers to get the story.  That’s because engineers expect a level of technical content in every story that they read

Your best content pieces for engineers are typically delivered by other engineers, whether in written form or via interactive processes like webinars. If you can possibly find an engineer on your team who likes to write and is good at it (they are extremely rare) then go for it.

Of course, some help from marketing is a good idea, particularly when it comes to crafting your call to action. 

If you have found this bit of myth-busting helpful, please share this post with other marketers.



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