How to Sell Content Marketing to a Skeptic in Manufacturing


Let us first define the attributes of a content marketing skeptic in the manufacturing industry where, by the way, there are more skeptics than in most other industries.  You can recognize a skeptic because they say things like:

  • “We tried content marketing and it doesn’t work” which might look something like this: they made a low level marketer (or hired an agency) to create a bunch of marketing stuff about their products and/or company and after 6 or 12 months, realized that more marketing crap about their products wasn’t helping, therefore skepticism towards “content marketing” pervades the organization.
  • “We’re doing content marketing already”.   I met with the CEO of a manufacturing company just the other day and when I mentioned content marketing in the context of knowledge marketing, she told me they are already doing it.  In looking at their web site, it is clear they are not practicing content marketing, but have one or two white papers up on their web site.
  • “Why should I share my company’s expertise, it’s proprietary”, this may be evidence closed mind or fear based marketing strategy.  This would be the same company who fears putting spec sheets on the web because the competition might get their hands on them.

Once you have identified the skepticism, you may feel there is no way to sell the concept of ‘real’ content marketing to this person.  But, do not despair and remember, most of these skeptics all share a common pain point; they desperately want to grow their manufacturing businesses but don’t know how to grow more than 3% to 7% in this modern age defined by global competition and commoditized products.  By focusing on this pain point, and sharing your knowledge of content marketing as a way to take market share from the competition who remain stuck in the dark ages of the industrial age, you are on your way to selling content marketing to the skeptic.  Here’s how you do it:

  1. The typical skeptic is usually in a leadership position and under pressure to produce more revenue and more profits than the firm is currently making.  The typical manufacturing company is struggling to grow or, in many cases, even maintain market share.  They are desperately trying all the old ways to spur growth; new products and more sales people are the most common tactics used to try to increase organic growth.  The skeptic has pain and your task is to convince her that content marketing can relieve that pain.  Simply put, answer their innate question, “what’s in it for me?”  Answer: growth and more market share.
  2. One of the best ways to convince a skeptic about anything is to paint a picture or tell a story that is squarely in their own world.  Ask the skeptic how they go about making a considered purchase.  If you did your homework, you might find out that the skeptic is an avid bicyclist.  If that were the case, ask him how he goes about buying a new bicycle.  Chances are he will tell you about a process where he first educates himself via web searches.  He probably places more credibility and perceives the company that offers helpful knowledge and expertise as the more reliable vendor.  Show him how his own perception is influenced by a manufacturing company that is practicing knowledge based content marketing.
  3. You may have to prove it to the skeptic and/or the skeptic may have to prove it to other skeptics within the manufacturing company.  The final step to selling content marketing to the skeptic is to prove the concept with a test or pilot program.  The type of activity and the media you choose for a pilot is critically important.  You need to pick something that shows numbers.  I like webinars or enewsletters to start because you can show the numbers and you can show the power of knowledge based content marketing.

The three key attributes of content marketing are top of mind awareness (TOMA), credibility and reciprocity.  Show the skeptic how his firm will achieve these 3 attributes in the minds of the people in the target audience by helping them to be better at something they care about leading to increasing market share and improving the growth trend.  Smart manufacturing marketers know that times have changed.  They know that by the time someone contacts their firm for a price or proposal, the research is mostly done and the business is mostly won by the best content marketer.



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