Are Manufacturers Keeping Up With Content Marketing?

Content Marketing Is The Model Of The Future, The New Middle Ground Between Two Traditional Buckets. You Are Your Story And Your Story Is You.

“Are Manufacturers Keeping Up with Content Marketing?” originally appeared in The Council of Industry Newsletter in Sept. 2017—Vol. 22, Issue 7.

The way most companies have traditionally deployed marketing was in two buckets. Advertising, which is speaking at your customer (instead of with them) and PR, which is trying to get an outsider to tell your story and hoping they tell it correctly. Content Marketing is the model of the future, the new middle ground between two traditional buckets. You craft your knowledge into valuable content with the help of expert writers and marketers and present it through digital campaigns to exactly who you believe needs to see it. Your perfectly crafted story, given wings with advertising dollars.


As you have certainly heard many, many times before, the world of media and marketing is changing quickly. It seems to us that it’s often mentioned with a negative tone. We have really seen this as an advantage. The human psychology of clients eventually understanding a company’s story and choosing to take their business to them has always been the foundational goal of good marketing. But today’s digital landscape allows us to identify the types of clients you want, target them digitally and use content marketing to speak your story to them. The collapsing of time frames and geography this allows is tremendous.


We all know that advertising and traditional media can offer great opportunities for exposure, branding and valuable top of mind awareness. However, what most manufacturers are saying to us is that they really need people to truly understand their story and exactly what they do that is different. You are your story and your story is you. When potential clients really understand what you do and why you do it they not only can become great clients, but they also become your next evangelists.

Content marketing starts with some basics such as outlining your goals and objectives, articulating what differentiates your product or service; defining your target audience and creating a content mission statement which keeps you on course.


A 2017 research report about Manufacturing Content Marketing in North America published by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) illustrated ongoing challenges for manufacturers. 15% of manufacturing companies admitted to not using content marketing and just 18% were recorded to have a well- documented, written down content marketing strategy. Merely 20% reported “accomplishing their overall objectives.” This might be attributed to 79% of companies seeing themselves to only be in the “First Steps,” “Young” or “Adolescent” stages of Content Marketing with only 18% considering their efforts to be “Mature” or “Sophisticated.”


Good storytelling is an effective tactic to engage audiences. Audiences appreciate being educated by a brand, especially when they’re not ready to make a purchase. Think of content marketing’s role as a professor or teacher.

Lincoln Electric, the professed world leader in the design, development and manufacture of arc welding products, used storytelling to demonstrate its welding expertise by relating stories about how the products it manufactures have been used to enable many high profile innovations – such as the creation of the Grand Canyon Skywalk, the Chicago skyline and the St. Louis Arch—through a quarterly ARC Magazine and a “Made Possible With” video series.

This resulted in a more authentic story-driven approach that appeals to wider audiences beyond those passionate about welding and cutting by showing how welding—and by extension, Lincoln Electric—continues to have an impact on people’s day-to-day lives. Bruce Chantry, director of marketing explained “Strategically, we need to deliver content in the format our customers will best receive it. We’re always seeking to gain a deeper level of brand engagement through knowledge sharing, through our magazine, Facebook pages, or instructional videos found on YouTube.”

Corning Inc. knocked it out of the park with its “A Day Made of Glass” video series amassing 25 million YouTube views—the most viewed corporate video of all time. “Imagineering” a high-tech future where functioning glass plays a larger role in everyday life, the video helped Corning reinforce their brand as the leader in glass making.
River Pools & Spas embraced content marketing when the recession hit hard times as they shifted their marketing strategy to be educational about berglass pools by starting a blog. The blog, now claimed by the company to be “the most educational swimming pool blog in the country,” resulted in River Pools & Spas going from number five to number one in their market as potential customers perceived value during the recession turned into sales when they were ready to make a purchase.


While it’s obvious Content Marketing is still evolving for most manufacturers, the ones that have embraced it are standing out from the pack. If your Content Marketing is falling short of expectations, now is a great time to re-examine ways to boost your efforts.


Thomas Martinelli is President of Martinelli Custom Publishing which recently started a new division—Content Studio. His company was the initial publisher of HV Mfg. for Council of Industry.