Even in so-called boring industries, there is great content.
But finding new content ideas can be a real problem for marketing teams. Particularly in engineering companies, getting fresh content often means being creative.
For instance, any content must be technically sound and easily digestible on online platforms. But as engineers usually don’t like to create content, it is often up to the marketing person or team to do it.
I have found a camera phone and a listening ear could be all you need to develop great content. Take notes as your engineer discusses his product. Record a one to two minute video about the launch of a new product feature. Ask your customer support team to answer one frequently asked question by customers and expand on it in an online blog. These are just some of the ways to generate content. Here are 12 content ideas.
1. Primary research on topical issues in your industry
Have you done a survey? Do you have data that you could use to show preliminary findings? If confidentiality is a concern, strip out client names and anything that can identify them. Ensure your client knows they’ll have anonymity.
2. Video interviews with experts
Ask your Chief Engineer or technical expert to discuss an engineering challenge he is solving. These days, a camera phone is enough to record short, great content at work.
3. Secondary research for various sources
An article that collates multiple viewpoints could be powerful. It allows you to look outside your company for other research and perspectives on the same issue. Don’t worry if you find conflicting opinions – that’s actually a good thing. Put out thoughts for your customers to engage with and respond.
4. How-to articles
Your customers probably struggle with a gazillion things. Create an article that teaches how to do something in a step-by-step guide. Point to additional resources on your website such as a video, case study or white paper.
5. Price comparison
Think about how grateful you are when you find a price comparison article when you are trying to make a decision on a purchase. Your customers will appreciate this too. Write an article that compares the overall costs of a technical solution across similar products. Review the cost of a bespoke solution versus off-the-shelf options, for instance.
6. Ways to complete a task
Show your customers a number of ways to complete a complex task. Highlight the pros and cons of each approach. Link to more resources and offer to answer further questions via an email address or discussion thread.
7. Podcast series
You can build a strong audience with a regular podcast series. People listen to podcasts at work, more so than video because they can keep working, with earphones in. It could be the same guests each time (discussing a different topic) or you could ask different people to feature each time. Consider bringing in partners, suppliers and even customers to feature.
These can be downloaded from your website or made into hard copies for your customers to take away. Use e-books to provide more detailed guidance on a complex subject, product or service.
9. Case studies
Showing who else you have done work for, and the outcome is a good idea in B2B sectors such as industrial engineering and manufacturing. Case studies are one way of advertising your success on a past customer project. You can describe the situation, benefits and outcome of your solution to the customer.
10. Photo with quote
We can’t always develop elaborate content. Photos are a good way to be brief and still have impact. They also work well across all social media channels. But photos need to be meaningful. Capture what it is like to work at your organisation. Pick a great quote from your CEO or Product Engineer and put it on a great photo. Avoid stock photos as they appear unauthentic. Take your own.
11. Article inviting opinion
People love to be asked what they think. Write an article that raises key issues around an emerging trend or technology. Ask for opinions and other viewpoints. Then watch the magic happen.
12. Slides explaining an idea
A slide deck is a great way to distil complex information. This style of presenting information forces you to focus on simplicity and conciseness. Use platforms like Slideshare to showcase your content or create a document that customers can download from your website. Remember to put your company logo, website and contact details. This way, your brand follows the content wherever it goes, signposting all that read it back to you.
Yekemi Otaru is managing director of YO! Marketing which is a marketing and strategy consultancy working at the interaction between business strategy, digital and marketing strategy. They work mainly in the B2B advanced manufacturing and engineering sectors.
She is also the author of The Smart Sceptic's Guide to Social Media in Organisations