21 August 20 -

Getting bang for buck: how to make the most of content in the manufacturing sector.

If you’re interested in fascinating stories, you’ll be gripped by manufacturing, engineering and industrial businesses. This is where sparks fly, ingenuity collides with engines, and twisted chunks of metal become badges of organisational honour.

To put it plainly, manufacturing and industrial business is fun. It’s exciting. It’s massive projects, incredible machinery, and ‘under-the-hood’ technical insights into many of the things we take for granted every day.

Isn’t it slightly ironic then, that for many people who work in the sector, fascinating manufacturing stories are what they take for granted every day.

Long-term overexposure to the industry often desensitises manufacturing professionals to their organisation’s incredible capability. Therefore, creating digital content can easily be seen as an afterthought, rather than any kind of exciting opportunity. It’s too hard, too time consuming, or too often that a manufacturing business can’t find anything interesting to say.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Why do manufacturing and industrial businesses need to make the most of their stories?

Most manufacturing content involves complicated subject matter. Sometimes, prohibitively complex.

You’ll likely never be able to navigate the difference between WERS codes and u-values, or the intricacies of coal seam gas extraction without talking to someone who is deeply experienced in their field. They might work in R&D, operations, or some kind of managerial capacity.

This person is your subject matter expert.

Rule number one: you cannot create effective manufacturing content without the input of your subject matter expert(s).

These experts, as you would expect, are usually in high demand. They’re often managing day-to-day production or multiple teams, which means it’s difficult to book out the necessary couple of hours (or more) every week for digital content creation.

Adding to the challenge, the lifecycle of projects—or ‘content worthy’ moments like case studies or product launches—is typically longer than comparative industries. When you’re building a house or fabricating a completely custom polyweld, the time to completion of a job can be months, if not more.

If you only have one ‘case study moment’ per quarter, it’s hard to continually create the new content required for newsletters, social media channels, website updates, or tender submissions.

So how do you get the most out of the content you do produce?

The secret lies in a simple technique; I’ll call it the flexible introduction. Or, flexi-duction™ (that way, it sounds more like a manufacturing concept).

Let’s say you produce one piece of content.

Imagine your business fabricated a new product for installation within the componentry of a wider project. The requirement for DIFOT was incredibly tough: you had to design, manufacture, and install the product in a remote location. All within a week.

You might collect the insights from a subject matter expert and write one long-form piece about this project. Maybe you’ll outline the brief, your approach, and the result.

To push this news out to your market (which is rarely singular, by the way), you’ll create a smaller content piece—let’s say for LinkedIn, but it could be any social channel—which is based on the long-form article.

Here’s how it looks:

If you adopt this singularly focused approach, you’re leaving far too much value on the factory floor.

Instead, try using the flexible introduction approach.

Getting to know the flexi-duction™ technique.

Let’s think in personal terms for a second.

If you’re at a barbecue with 25 guests, and you introduce a new friend to different people throughout the day, chances are you won’t provide the same exact introduction every single time.

Instead, you’d introduce this friend based on the different aspects of their personality. The aspects you know are likely to connect or resonate with each new contact. You don’t make new friends that often, so you want to give this particular friend their moment in the sun.

Over the course of multiple introductions throughout the day, you’ll draw on things like:

  1. What they do for a living.
  2. Who they support in the footy.
  3. Their favourite film.
  4. Where they travelled on a recent holiday.

So here’s the thing: you should do the same with every single piece of content you produce as a manufacturing or industrial business.

Think back to the hypothetical case study: the custom fabrication for a new project. How many ways could you introduce this piece of content? If you’re unsure, try asking some of the following questions:

  • General perspective: what did we do on this project? Who did we do it for, and with? Why did we have to do it? What was the result for the client or the contractor? What was the benefit to the community?
  • Product perspective: what was the product we used in the project? Why was it selected? Does it provide any unique advantage in comparison to competitor offerings?
  • Service perspective: who were the stakeholders involved? Did they have any unique requirements? Did we collaborate with any other larger civil or government entities? Who else would be interested in our capability in this space? How would our partners describe the experience of working with us on this project?
  • Supply chain and logistical perspective: what were the complexities in delivering this project? What challenges did they create? How did we overcome those challenges? Do we have any unique or proprietary method for mitigating those challenges on similar projects in future? What departments were involved? What roles did they play? How are they uniquely equipped to ensure those roles are successful?

If you can answer some of these questions and create short-form pieces of content based on the answers, you’ll end up with something like this:

From one piece of created content, you’ve generated five (or more) owned pieces of smaller content you can use to populate an ongoing content calendar.

Schedule each of these out over a month. Then do the exact same exercise with another long-form article—even one that’s a year or two old—especially if the original content is written well and contains a compelling, multi-faceted story. Because chances are it’s still a valuable and relevant example of your organisation’s capability.

Why it works uniquely well in manufacturing.

Most industrial or manufacturing businesses involve sophisticated supply chains:

  • Manufacturing.
  • Operations.
  • Logistics.
  • Customer support.
  • R&D.
  • After sales support.

The list goes on.

Each of these teams offers a unique perspective on any one project—a different angle on the story—and therefore a unique frame for how we can position one single piece of content for multiple different audiences.

When a prospective customer is looking at your business as a potential vendor or supplier, they’re typically looking at multiple aspects of your offering (the experience and quality of your people, your technical capability, logistical reliability, and more).

If you’re confident in your end-to-end capabilities—across your entire operation—you’ll likely talk about those capabilities. All of them. Frequently.

Publishing content showcases conviction in your own ability as a manufacturing business. It’s assurance.

If you can’t create long-form content quickly enough to convey this assurance of capability, then you should try the flexi-duction™ technique.

And if you can’t master it? Or you don’t have the time? Try the next best thing: introduce yourself to someone who can. Remember, I’m interested in fascinating manufacturing stories, so there’s a decent chance I’ll be interested in yours.