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Manufacturing Marketers: 3 Fixes for Your Content Marketing Strategy

How manufacturing marketers rate the effectiveness of their organization's use of content marketing
82% of manufacturers are using a content strategy,
but only 26% of manufacturing marketers rate it as effective.

According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 survey of B2B Manufacturing Marketers, 82% of manufacturers have gotten onboard with content marketing.

Sadly, only 26% of your manufacturing marketing peers say they are doing a good job of it (ie; “Effective” or “Very Effective”).

We’ve used data from the report, along with our own experiences to list three common content marketing fails and how to fix them. 


A lot of the content strategy challenges that manufacturers face are due to an entrenched sales culture. They are slow to give their marketers the credit and budget they need.  As a result, marketers are faced with:

  1)    Unrealistic demands for sales-ready leads
  2)    Short-term measurements of content marketing, which is a long term strategy

In this environment, manufacturing marketers face three common problems:

 1.   Marketers can’t measure and prove ROI.  

Measuring ROI is a common struggle of all B2B marketers, but manufacturing marketers struggle with this more than most. Only 12% rate themselves as successful. 

In the 2015 survey of B2B Manufacturing Marketers, only 12% of marketers say they are successful at tracking ROI of their marketing program.

Here’s how you can calculate your ROI.

Say you have a 10% conversion rate from web visitors to leads and a 25% conversion rate from lead to closed sale and that the lifetime value of a customer is $6,000. That should be enough data to crank the math on your content program.

In this scenario a customer is worth $6,000, so a lead is worth $6,000 x 25% = $1,500 and a site visitor is worth $1,500 x 10% = $150.  Compare that to your total cost to run a marketing campaign, including your internal staff, content creation and distribution and you’ll likely find that content marketing is worthwhile.  You’ll also probably find that it is a good idea to put more budget behind distribution.

 2.   Marketers are not meeting expectations for branding or sales 

One quick fix opportunity to improve your results is to redirect your budget for distributing that content.

In addition to internal distribution and social media, 85% of manufacturing marketers say they use print or other offline media to distribute their content.  However, only 34% say it’s effective.

Of those same marketers, only 45% pay for native advertising. I think that’s a big disconnect and a big opportunity that manufacturing marketers are missing.

Manufacturers' paid advertising usage from CMI's 2015 survey to B2B manufacturing marketers
Only 34% of manufacturers say print or other offline media advertising is effective, despite usage of over 85%.

From the perspective of a publisher, I can tell you that the software and technology marketers are way out front of manufacturers on the native advertising trend. Buying sponsored posts solves two problems; i) creating content and ii) distributing it, all in one tidy package.

Yes, I’m hopelessly biased here, so draw your own conclusions. But manufacturing marketers themselves say that what they are doing now isn’t working.


 3.  Marketers are producing more content than ever, but effectiveness is down

Manufacturers are increasing their spending on content and producing more. But effectiveness is down: only 26% of manufacturing marketers rated their organization’s use of content marketing as, “Effective” or “Very Effective” in 2015, which is actually a decrease when compared to 30% in 2014.

In our experience, the primary reason for ineffective content marketing is writing poor stories. Manufacturing marketers agree. 62% said that creating engaging content is a top challenge.  

Good stories come from your customer’s point of view. They are long on solving your customer’s problems and short on features of your product. Here’s a comical case in point. We have had advertising customers ask us to treat a brochure as a white paper. Ie – they want us to put their brochure behind a gate and give it to our audience as a prize for registering. Not only won’t that work, I think it’s actually kind of mean.  

Talking about yourself won’t work for your content strategy. You have to talk about your customer’s issues.


What have we learned?

Manufacturing marketers, compared to their B2B peers are struggling to succeed with content marketing.  We think they can do better by:

  • Justifying their budgets by proving their ROI with the formula set out above
  • Reallocating their budgets to more effective distribution channels
  • Writing stories from their customer’s point of view


Let me know what you think,



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