Topic, Timing, and Targeting: The Three T’s of Creating Engaging Manufacturing Content

How to Create and Deliver Content that Engineers Want to Read

What should I write or make a video about? What will speak to my ideal customers?

It’s the most frequently asked questions by manufacturing marketers using Account Based Marketing (ABM). It is a tough question. Let’s discuss a few ways to create website content that will engage the toughest engineers and inspire buyers to take action.

Why is content successful? Three distinct reasons:

  • Resonating topic
  • Perfect timing
  • Targeting the right people

Too often we’re trying to write the perfect “catch-all” article: a critical subject that is always relevant and appeals to everyone. In the end, it catches no one’s attention.

Successful content must be focused and specific towards your ideal customer.

Topic: Finding an Important Subject That is Relevant to Your Customer

Great content is not about your company. It is about your customers. The topic of great content should be about the challenges your customers face.

Don’t get caught in the trap of writing content about your services. Capabilities, features, or even your process doesn’t matter to your customer.

Identifying and solving your customer’s challenges does matter. In most cases, it just comes down to the perspective you’re writing from.

For example, you’ve just finished the installation of a new multi-axis CNC station. Instead of focusing on features, share how it will shorten delivery timelines by reducing the number of setups. Showcase the increased accuracy of the finished part.

In short, make the topic relevant to your customer.

What are some topics that are relevant?

  • eBooks that introduce critical process knowledge to your customer (e.g. 10 Tips for Engineers to Select a Precision Machining Partner)
  • Case studies that dive into a specific challenge and how it was resolved
  • Common manufacturing process misconceptions or ways you’ve saved customers time or money

Timing: Delivering the Right Message at the Right Time

“The timing is bad,” is a common response in sales. Is your timing wrong or is it the wrong time for that message? So let’s pair the right message with the right time.

A dangerous assumption is that the sales process is linear. Prospective customers may not start at the top of your funnel. Creating content for different stages of the buyer’s journey is crucial.

Early Explorer (Awareness)

  • List-style tips articles (Top 3 Ways to Save and 1 That Will Cost Extra)
  • Infographics
  • Social media engagement
  • Videos and podcasts
  • eBooks

Metrics to Watch

  • Are prospects finding the content? (Organic search traffic)
  • How long are visitors engaged? (Time on page)
  • Are prospects taking action? (Email newsletter signup, content downloads, bounce rate)

Mid-Process (Evaluation)

  • Useful resources (how to or recommendations)
  • Case studies or work examples
  • Technical white papers
  • Webinars or events

Metrics to Watch

  • Are site visitors returning to the site? (New vs. returning visitors)
  • Does your content resonate? (Downloading long form content)
  • Have leads been generated? (Online form completions or meeting requests)

Final Decisions (Purchase)

  • Comparisons articles or infographics (You vs. competition)
  • Testimonials
  • Team profiles (Who will they be working with)

Metrics to Watch

  • Generated sales
  • Site traffic to case studies or team profiles
  • LinkedIn connection requests or page follows

There will be many paths prospect take to find you. Some will connect midway through their own process. Make sure you recognize what stage they’re in and which content is right for them.

Targeting: Aim Small. Miss Small.

The scene from The Patriot when Mel Gibson asks his sons, “remember what I taught you boys about shooting?”

“Aim small. Miss small,” they answer in unison.

Seth Godin puts it more professionally when he calls it the minimum viable audience. You should be focusing your content to a specific profile. Speak directly to your ideal buyer. Address their specific challenge.

Targeting your marketing tactics is likely part of your strategy, but what will really add fuel to the fire is when your content is equally focused on that buyer persona or Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Because you have different aspects to your business, you’ll likely have multiple ICPs. This is good. Having your profiles will allow you to generate content that speaks specifically to real people.

An extra bonus to documenting your ICPs is that when it comes time to promote, boost, or advertise on search or social channels, you will have all the needed details available.

What Should Be Included in an ABM Ideal Customer Profile?

Creating an Ideal Customer Profile can be full of distractions. Some may argue details ranging from marital status to the vehicle choice is important, but what it truly comes down to are the buying characteristics.

IMPORTANT: Data should drive this. Avoid “gut” profiling. Don’t guess and don’t speculate with the sales team. Gather hard data.

Starting is always the toughest part. Begin by defining what is an ideal customer? Do they have a specific:

  • Company size (revenue or employees) and geography?
  • Org chart (e.g. we have the most success when dealing with a PE or Lead Manufacturing Engineer)?
  • Decision process (who will make decisions, influence decisions, or present ideas)?
  • Challenge or pain point?
  • Have a specific budget range?

Once you have the criteria to evaluate the “ideal” you can review your current customers. Some will be more ideal than others, but as you apply this rating system a clearer image will begin to form.

Taking the criteria you’ve outlined and start searching—list service, NAICS/SIC search, LinkedIn, and Google. This is the legwork part of the process. Review / rate your findings and begin building that researched prospect list.

Before you know it, you have a highly targeted, qualified list to engage.

Topic, Timing, and Targeting: Bringing It Together

The principle behind account based marketing (ABM) is to better understand your customer. Using the Three T’s allows you to create content that:

  • Has a topic that’s important to your future customer
  • Presents the right ideas at the right time
  • Delivers your expertise to exactly the right people

Will you have a single ICP? No. You’ll have several based on what you do. In the same fashion you will have tiers or categories within your ABM program. That’s okay. The more focused you can be, the better you can demonstrate your expertise through your content.

Success won’t happen overnight. It will take time and planning to get it all together. In the end, you will have better quality leads and better customer experiences.

If you’re seeking a marketing partner that understands the important role the Three T’s play in driving results, contact Signalfire for a free consultation. We can tell the right story, at the right time, and deliver it to the right people.