Many B2B manufacturers are struggling on the marketing front - particularly when it comes to content.
According to research published by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) in February 2016, just 18 per cent of B2B manufacturing marketers say their organisations are effective at content marketing – down from 26 per cent in 2015.
Commenting on this report, Dechay Watts, co-founder of inbound marketing agency SPROUT Content, suggests that B2B manufacturers would do well to channel their operational expertise into their marketing efforts. That is to say, they should adopt an agile approach.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, smart manufacturing, mass customisation, and the list goes on: to stay on top, B2B manufacturers have to engage with their target buyers and sell more. Implementing agile manufacturing enables manufacturers to get ahead in this competitive and fast-paced environment, allowing them to respond to changing demand, without compromising on cost or quality.
With content marketing, the agile aspect is fulfilled through consistent review: what content is generating interest: what content is dead in the water? Implementing sprint planning - defined blocks of work (for instance, two weeks) - can help manufacturers to fulfil their content goals and reassess at the end of a sprint, if things haven't gone to plan.
Dechay says that to be successful in content marketing, manufacturing companies must "solve problems, showcase their expertise and fulfill customers' needs, ultimately transforming commodities into value offerings". Buyer personas are crucial here, enabling manufacturers to best connect with the right people, at the right time.
An agile approach ensures high-quality content is created on a regular basis, but that things can be switched up with ease, as and when required.
Manufacturing companies are no strangers to using agile for their manufacturing processes. Constant iterations and product adjustments let manufactures test quickly, see what works and eliminate what doesn’t work, so they continually learn as they create instead of investing months or years on something that doesn’t meet customer needs. An agile approach creates a competitive advantage by allowing manufacturers to rapidly respond to customers and quickly adapt to customer demand. Making adjustments based on customer feedback not only delivers products based on real life needs rather than educated guesses, it also saves time and money. While agile methodologies are customary within the realm of product development for many manufacturers; the marketing departments of these same companies are missing out on the benefits of agile processes.