Reading time ( words)
I was speaking with the sales manager of a small manufacturer several months back at IPC APEX EXPO and I asked him what his biggest problem was. Even before I had finished asking the question he blurted out, “Price. It is all about price.”
I took a look at his company’s website. It was the usual thing I'm used to seeing in his industry: A little company history, a page of capabilities, a list of equipment they use, some stale and boring news (they bought a drill three years ago), a plea to let them do quotes, and some contact info. In other words, this company appears to be just like everyone else.
And unless a company gives a customer a reason to choose them over their competitors, the customer will decide on their own methodology...and that will be price.
This is where content marketing can help companies like the sales manager’s. Content marketing, whether it be through a blog, articles, or posts on social media, can provide the proof that a company is different from it’s peers.
Using content marketing, companies have the opportunity to prove to prospective customers they have specific expertise and skills that are worth paying for; skills that lessen the role of price in making a purchasing decision.
But what constitutes proof? A good example would be a customer testimonial that says how great a company has been to work with. When a company says these things, it’s bragging, but when someone else says it, it’s true. And it's proof when the testimonial comes from a real person. Testimonials from “R.N. in the aviation industry” look fake and carry no weight at all.
Using a content marketing strategy takes work. Social media may be free, but it takes work to put together the content you would post using social media. Content marketing gives a company the means to get their message out, but the company needs to figure out what that message will be, and put the messages together.
A content marketing strategy using social media doesn’t have to be that hard though. There are a lot of places a company has the raw material to make great content that their customers would like to see, but they don’t realize it. Here are some ideas:
- Using a company presentation, write down all the benefits customers would receive and turn those benefits into blog posts or articles.
- Take a customer success story and write it up. How the company was uniquely qualified to help the customer with the specific problem they had. (What’s wrong with the company being a hero?)
- A company can write about it’s experience at the latest big trade show. There would be a lot of people that couldn’t go to the show that would be interested in the company’s perspective.
- A company can put together a glossary of industry terms.
- A company can put together a Frequently Asked Questions list.
- A company can interview their own customer service people. Find out what the most frequently asked questions are and publish the list along with the answers...and do the same with the Engineering team and manufacturing and quality departments.
- A company can put together a recommended reading list.
A company that does these things is adding value for potential prospects and demonstrating their deep knowledge of the industry.
I can name two PCB manufacturers that share two defining characteristics: They are consistently more expensive than their competitors and they are both very profitable. In other words, they sure aren’t selling on price. How have they done it? They have shown their customers that there are more important things than price: Customer service, quality, technical expertise, and engineering expertise.
Your company may have some or even all of these attributes. So why are you keeping them a secret?Bruce Johnston is a sales consultant specializing in social media and especially LinkedIn. He has over 25 years experience in high-tech sales and management. He can be reached at email@example.com or through his profile on LinkedIn.