*Updated as of May 2016*
Ever read an insightful article, an inspiring blog post or watched an unmissable video from a competitive product manufacturer and felt a little sick with admiration?
Sucks doesn’t it.
You may even have tortured yourself a little and thought briefly about the impact a well crafted article or video like that would have had on your prospects, the credibility that would have followed for that building product…
What’s worse is that in most cases, you’re likely to have had the idea but perhaps just not had the time to flesh it out and so moved onto something seemingly more pressing…
It reminded me to re-read our own invaluable post about 10 things a building product manufacturer could write about.
To compliment that great ’10 things…’ article, I want to arm you with my 4 simple offline steps to help you discover exactly what content you need to create for maximum online impact on your prospects.
Let’s use Acoustic Insulation as an example sector…. here we go:
Step 1 – The Overriding Business Vision, Focus or Purpose.
It helps massively if your business has a clear focus. Let’s say the business has a vision to become the worlds leading authority on acoustic design and insulation. This gives us our first clear steer on content. The priority question to ask of each and every piece of content you create is this:
“Does this piece of writing, video, whatever, help to back up our Leading Authority positioning?”
If the answer is yes. Move on to step 2.
Tip: If the answer is ‘no’ because you don’t perhaps have a clear business purpose, you should hire a qualified brand and positioning expert.
Step 2 – The Priority Business Goal
It really helps to break the business goals into manageable chunks. Lets say, one of the key business goals is to sell more of product ‘X’. Product ‘X’ happens to be a general product that works well in various applications, one of which is ‘Schools and Universities’.
As a marketer it’s your job to understand the business goals, especially the sales objectives. Thoroughly understand within which applications (markets) your products work well from a performance, profitability and growth perspective.
Tip: Don’t be wasting time creating content for products that are low on the priority list – do create content for the lower priority products but get the high priority products done first.
Step 3 – The Priority Marketing Objectives, Outputs and Outcomes
I’m going to suggest that one of marketing’s priority outcomes is to provide the sales team with an amount of leads that are already highly qualified.
In order to provide those leads (the outcome) and to create the content (the output), one of your key marketing priorities (objectives) must be to understand your products in relation to a particular audience, in relation to a particular application.
In this example we’ll concentrate on the architects and specifiers (the audience), those working on the future projects involving acoustic insulation (Product ‘X’) for schools and universities (the application).
Having done a simple piece of research on acoustic insulation and design for classrooms, I understand this to be a fairly complex topic. Plenty of scope for useful content creation that backs up step #1.
And as a result I realise that it’s likely to be a popular topic with Architects.
In order to move an online prospect through the lead nurturing cycle we must have thought about the questions that a prospect is likely to be asking in relation to the situation, not necessarily the products, and be there when they are looking as a result.
Step 4 – Exactly What Content
It is completely unrealistic to expect the marketer to come up with, prepare and write all of the detailed content needed in such a complex industry. However, I would fully expect the marketer to steer the content ideas. Here’s how you can do it.
- Do your homework up front – You know the priority products by now, and you know the audience too – go speak to the technical team, the sales team and the customer support team. What questions do they get asked most, specific to the product and the application?
- Speak to your customers – What are they looking for? What information do they want? What is their experience of working with your products and the customer service team?
- Follow up on finished projects – Build case studies around the complex technical issues your delivery team solved, these will appeal to architects facing similar issues. Don’t make the mistake of writing about the building ie. the finished product. It’s the problems that your product and technical team solved that are key.
- Talk to your approved contractors and distributors – could they do with further help on site or int store?
Tip: Answer the simple questions first – what is obvious to you may not be to the customer or specifer.
Also make yourself fully aware of any building regulations, fire regulations and British Standards that your products have to pass – look them up. Ask your technical team. Check out Glazing Vision’s blog area as an example, which includes detailed information on testing glass rooflights in line with Part Q.
By the end of this worthwhile exercise, you will have a list of super useful topics and possible web objects. It might look a bit like this:
- Typical product FAQ’s – Your top 10 questions for first time specifiers. ‘How to’ posts, talking head videos or animations, infographics.
- General application FAQ’s – A targeted, conversion focused, product/application landing page or series of videos including; case study, datasheets, gallery, fly-throughs or animations etc.
- Installation guidance – A series of shareable installation video’s for the architect to send to the sub-contractor. Make peoples lives easier.
- Problem solving case studies – Re-purpose your case studies to concentrate on the problem-solved, issues overcome and not the outcome ie not the building – this will only promote the building, not your expertise. PR’s beware.
- Client testimonials – If you’re not asking for testimonials (contractor, architect, end user) after every product, you should be.
- In-depth technical and performance data – Prove why the prospect should be specifying your product. Back up your claims.
- Regulations and standards – learn about them and write about them in terms that can be understood. Clever marketers can make the most complex topics digestible.
Summary – Get to it.
The job of content marketing is to teach the audience (the architects and specifiers in this case), about the product (it’s key features and benefits), the issues surrounding the product (design, regulations, installation) and the various applications where it is used (schools, universities, hospitals, care homes, retail parks etc, etc).
Great content works but acknowledge that the content you recently read from your competition took time to create. It took conversations to get the subjects clear. It’s not the job of one person.
For more advice on exactly how to implement all of these content ideas into an effective content marketing strategy, view our slideshare here.
Or if you want further insight into the content creation process for construction marketers, download our new and updated 2016 eBook.