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John Hayes
By
July 31, 2014

Should engineering marketers be publishers? It depends on the content.

Marketers are increasingly asking engineering publications to write their stories.  That’s because 3rd party stories provide:

  1. Instant access to an audience of engineers
  2. Credibility
  3. Big time savings
  4. SEO juice from the link-backs

To preserve the credibility of these pieces, the authors conduct external research and bring their own expertise to the topics.  The resulting stories  lean more towards editorial than advertorial.  As a result, they travel far in social media, often garnering hundreds of shares. 

On the other hand, you’ve all read that every brand needs to become their own publisher.  While our own survey of 2014 plans for engineering marketers underscored that truth, it also highlights what you already know – most of you are already producing tons of content.

So, which is it?  Do you create and publish your own content or rely on 3rd parties?

My view is that the closer you get to a decision, the more likely it is that the content will be published by the brand.  Engineers can rely on the company to be a reliable expert on its own products and services.  That’s why most industrial brands publish spec sheets, case studies, product videos and all manner of customer support material. 

So when do you use a 3rd party?  Here’s a figure from a study done by Nielsen.  The study compared the reaction of consumers to content from three sources:

  1. User generated content
  2. Content from the brand
  3. Expert 3rd party content

 Impact_of_content_types_across_purhcase_process

The study found that expert 3rd party content was almost twice as effective (+88%) as branded content for developing awareness and 38% more effective for generating purchase intent.  When you consider that engineers are often motivated by a fear of screwing up, you can imagine that they will behave similarly to the consumers in this study.  You can download the full report here:  http://www.inpwrd.com/nielsen or read Chad Pollitt’s thoughts.

My view is that it makes a ton of sense to hire a trade pub to create stories (text or video) or host webinars to introduce your products to their audience.  It also makes sense to publish your own spec sheets and case studies. 

I don’t see publishers adding value to spec sheets unless they are providing a catalog service.  And I really don’t get why a brand would publish a glossy paper magazine of “thought leadership” stories and mail it out at great expense.  Is there any way to prove ROI against such a big investment?

As always, please share your views.

If you want to learn how ENGINEERING.com’s sponsored article writing service works, download this piece

Thanks,

John

 

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