It can be challenging to strike the right balance when marketing to the pump industry, where the emphasis is on providing end-users with products and solutions that effectively and efficiently meet their needs. If you’re not familiar with business-to-business (B2B) marketing solutions, it can be difficult to get the best results.
The most successful businesses, particularly in B2B sectors, approach marketing with a multi-pronged strategy. This includes a combination of a great website, effective social media campaigns and a wellresearched, well-executed content marketing plan.
When organisations are choosing who to partner with to help them deliver their marketing strategy, there are marketing experts, and then there are industry marketing experts. In a B2B setting like the pump industry, you should be working with the latter.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content. The goal is to attract and retain a clearly defined audience ‒ and ultimately drive action and sales. Content can be produced in various forms including news articles, blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, newsletters, infographics and social media posts.
Chances are you know your industry better than most, but if creating content is not your main focus, you’re probably not doing it effectively. Pump Industry Magazine Editor, Katie Livingston, explains the unique content marketing challenges faced by companies in the pump industry, and how specialist content teams have an impact.
“The pump industry is unique, complex and includes a variety of different challenges, with high value placed on content that helps members of the industry solve the problems they deal with every day. “It can be difficult for those working in the industry to find a marketing professional that can comprehend the intricacies of these challenges; and explain pump industry issues clearly without oversimplifying a situation.
“Pump end-users are dealing with complex challenges, and they need their problems solved yesterday. Here at Pump Industry Magazine we know marketing that successfully targets this audience, focuses on solving pain points and demystifying the hidden workings of complex machinery.”
Katie says it’s important to have an editorial team that understands the challenges of the end-user, who in the case of Pump Industry Magazine, is individuals working across a wide variety of verticals, including water and wastewater, oil and gas, chemicals, food and beverage and more.
“We know that when people read industry articles, they are looking to gain something – whether that be new knowledge, expert insight or solutions to certain problems. When a writer already knows who their audience is, and how to write for that audience, they have a much better chance of producing content that is meaningful to the reader,” Katie said.
What content is useful to potential customers?
A good content marketing piece of work solves a problem for potential customers. You know what your customers are asking. You know their pain points. Some of the best content your business can create will address these issues. Great articles are then read, saved, shared and ultimately draw customers to you when they are ready to buy.
Katie said there are many different types of articles that appeal to customers in the pump industry. “Longer feature articles that explore technical challenges with pumps and pump systems, and explain in detail how to resolve problems and overcome these challenges, are particularly popular with our readers. Creating content like this can position advertisers as industry experts and thought leaders within the industry. In addition, project stories can emphasise a particular area of expertise for a business.”
Strategy is the key to success
Successful content marketing, and marketing in general, comes from having a clear strategy that is executed flawlessly. The biggest content marketing mistake businesses make is to release content with all guns blazing for a couple of weeks, then leave their customers listening to crickets for the next few months. Perhaps they hit them with another flurry of content a few months down the track, but they lack consistency or a defined strategy.
All companies benefit from having a clear content marketing plan in place, and those in the pump industry are no exception. This plan should include a commitment to release content relating to industry-specific events throughout the year, such as the impact that the Federal or State Budgets may have on customers or others in the industry.
The content marketing plan should be flexible enough to be able to respond to unexpected relevant events, such as the release of a new standard that impacts the industry, or the announcement of a funding grant. Working with content specialists within the industry makes it easier to lay out article plans for the year. Having dedicated writers who know the industry means this content can be produced quickly and while it is still relevant.
Businesses also need content that can be prepared ahead of time to keep customers informed and increase their own brand recognition.
In the pump industry, these could be articles around new products that increase the efficiency of pumping systems, or allow manufacturers to create their products more effectively. Leading businesses will also have some long-form content available – such as whitepapers or ebooks – with comprehensive analysis that help to stamp them as an authority in the market.
Be sure that web content suits the online world
Before great content actually makes an impact, it’s important for a business website to be in good shape. This includes being mobile responsive, since so many people view websites on their phones. It’s also good to produce content for search engine optimisation (SEO), which means making use of a range of keywords, optimising images for the web and successfully building relevant links.
Businesses in the pump industry should also be careful not to disregard social media in their marketing plan. Sticking with the goal of avoiding being obnoxious, there are still ways to interact with potential customers through social media without being too intrusive.
Facebook has a place in business to consumer (B2C) transactions, and to a lesser extent business to business (B2B) interactions. Given many decision-makers are on Facebook, business content can still reach these people and have an impact. The downside is that they are often not in business decision-making mode when using Facebook. Your best bet is to be sharing content of value that people appreciate reading.
When they are at work and ready to make a purchase, your business has already made an impression on them. LinkedIn is a great platform for businesses in the pump industry to foster B2B transactions and nurture relationships. Being a professional network by nature, LinkedIn is a convenient and appropriate way to keep in contact with other industry leaders.
There is often a spike in connections made after networking or industry events such as AIMEX, Irrigation Australia, IMARC and OzWater.
Once these relationships are formed, the content-sharing nature of LinkedIn can broaden your reach in the industry.
What’s next for marketing in the pump industry?
The goal will always be to stay relevant to the intended customer base. This is often best achieved through targeted content marketing produced by journalists with industry knowledge as well as general writing experience.
Pure industry experts often lack writing skills to get their message across. Pure marketing experts don’t have the industry knowledge to produce quality content for the intended audience. Find someone in the middle who has both sets of skills.
4 ways B2B marketing is different to consumer marketing
1. Different demographics
When marketers are targeting the consumer market, they often base their campaigns on traditional demographics like age, gender and income level. But B2B demographics are very different, and a scattergun approach simply won’t work and can waste a lot of resources.
B2B marketing should be done through platforms where you can directly target these people. This could include meeting them directly at industry events, targeted campaigns through LinkedIn, where you can segment on appropriate demographics, sending newsletters to existing clients or lists you build yourself, advertising in industry journals that the right people actually read, and custom-lead generation campaigns.
2. Long lead times
Many consumer purchases are made once and straight away, possibly in a physical shop or increasingly online. But many B2B deals involve a tender process, or protracted negotiations for high value deals – it’s not a click and forget scenario. As a result, it’s important to set the pace of your marketing to match the length of your sales cycle. This means that it’s ok to drive traffic to your site if that’s what you want to do, but if they’re not ready to buy that day, you should still have options for them to engage with you, such as a newsletter to sign up for or an eBook download or webinar registration for which they provide their details.
3. Dealing with multiple decision makers
When a consumer makes a purchase, they decide and that’s it. In B2B, there’s often a whole chain of people who are involved in some way in the decision making process. If you are dealing with a large organisation, there may be more hands-on employees that use the product and recommend it, senior management that have ultimate sign off, or even external stakeholders like engineering consultants who make recommendations. Good marketing needs to reach all of these people with different variations of your message that are adapted but also consistent.
4. Personal relationships
In B2B, it’s often necessary to have ongoing, long-term relationships with the individuals at the companies you sell to. This means that consistency and reputation are key. This matters in all marketing, but in B2B it’s as much about your personal integrity and reputation as anything else. The best way to deliver on this is by living these values. But the perception can be further enhanced with the right marketing and communications.
In B2B there’s often great scope to build up the profile of your key staff as experts or thought leaders. The more they get quoted on a topic, speak at a conference, or be seen in trade media or on social media, the more that trust will be reinforced.