Manufacturing, engineering and industrial businesses provide opportunities for incredible content. This is where sparks fly, ingenuity is everywhere, 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, fascinating machinery, and ‘under-the-hood’ technical insights into many of the things we take for granted every single day.
It’s slightly ironic then, that for many people who work in these sectors, fascinating manufacturing stories and content opportunities are what they take for granted every day.
Long-term overexposure to the industry can desensitise manufacturing professionals and marketing teams to their own incredible capability. Beyond that, there are some unique challenges specific to these organisations that make content production difficult.
As a result, creating marketing content can easily be seen as an afterthought, rather than an exciting opportunity.
It’s too hard, too time consuming, or too often that manufacturing businesses feel they can’t find compelling stories to publish.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Why do manufacturing and industrial businesses need to make the most of their stories?
Most manufacturing, industrial or engineering content involves sophisticated and highly technical subject matter. Sometimes, it’s prohibitively complex.
As a layperson, you’ll likely never be able to navigate the steps involved in configuring a 750-80-X altitude valve to control a pipeline system or the intricacies of coal seam gas extraction without talking to someone who is deeply experienced in their field. This experienced person might work in research and development, logistical operations, or some kind of managerial capacity.
This person is your subject matter expert.
Rule number one: you cannot create effective manufacturing or industrial content without the input of your subject matter expert(s).
These experts, as you may expect, are usually in high demand. They often manage day-to-day production schedules or multiple teams, which means it is difficult to book out the necessary couple of hours (or more) every week for frequent content production.
Adding to the challenge, the lifecycle of projects in manufacturing and industrial businesses—or ‘content worthy’ moments like case studies or product launches—is typically longer than other industries. When you’re building a house, supplying pipeline infrastructure for a mine, or fabricating a completely custom polyweld, the time to completion for a job can be months. If not more.
When you only have on ‘case study moment’ per quarter, it’s difficult to continually create the new content required for newsletters, social media channels, website updates, or RFP submissions.
The successful delivery of a new product or project might trigger some concerted marketing effort, like the production of a one-page microsite similar to Grazenfilter or Refire Fuel Cell Systems. But then you need a polyformat content approach to maximise the exposure of these high quality marketing assets.
If you’ve invested in creating high quality pieces of content, like these promotional brochure sites from Grazenfilter and Refire, you want to get your money’s worth.
How do you overcome these challenges and get the most value out of the content you produce?
The secret lies in a simple technique; let’s call it the ‘flexible introduction’ approach. Or, flexi-duction (that way, it sounds more like a manufacturing concept).
Let’s say you have a watershed moment for content.
Imagine your business successfully delivers a major contract for a huge project—let’s say product supply and installation for a commercial construction project. The requirement for DIFOT was incredibly tough: you had to design a solution, source and supply all componentry, deliver it to site, and install the full solution at a remote location. All within the space of two weeks.
As a marketing team, you might interview a subject matter expert and write a case study. You might create a promotional brochure website to promote the specific product or solution in question. You’ll probably highlight the challenges your team faced, the approach you took, and the successful result.
To push this news out to your market (which is rarely single, by the way), you’ll create a smaller content piece. Hypothetically, let’s suggest you write a LinkedIn post to promote a long-form case study on your website.
Here’s how that approach looks:
If you adopt this singularly focused approach, you’re leaving far too much value on the factory floor.You need to wring more consistent, ongoing value out of every content asset you create.
Instead, try using the flexible introduction—or flexi-duction—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 exact same introduction every single time.
Instead, you’d introduce the friend based on different aspects of their personality. Specifically, the aspects you know will likely resonate with each new contact. Over the course of multiple introductions throughout the day, you might draw on things like:
- What they do for a living.
- Their favourite footy team.
- The type of music or films they like.
- Where they travelled on a recent holiday.
Here’s the thing: you should do the exact same with every single piece of content you produce as a manufacturing or industrial business.
Think back to the hypothetical case study: the product supply and installation contract.
How many different ways could you introduce this one piece of content? If you’re unsure, try asking some of the following questions based on different perspectives of the work:
- 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 catalyst for this new project? What value was delivered? What was the result for the client or contractor? What benefit did we create for 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 other solutions that exist in market? Did we modify the design in any way to meet the requirements of the project?
- 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? Are there any comparable industries with similar requirements? How would our partners or clients describe the experience of working with us on this project?
- Supply chain and logistical perspective: what were the complexities in supplying this project? What challenges did we overcome? How intricate was the logistical process involved in delivering product? Do we have any unique or proprietary method for mitigating those challenges in the future? What departments from our team were involved? How were they coordinated? What roles did they play? What processes do we have in place to ensure effective teamwork and delivery?
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:
More bang for buck for each piece of content produced and more opportunities to promote your capability over time.
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:
- Customer support.
- 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