PWC’s Manufacturing COO Pulse Survey 2021 shows that buyers’ increasing demand for digital channels will have the biggest business impact for all B2B manufacturing industries over the next 1-2 years.
B2B manufacturers have generally lagged behind the digital curve, understandably when you consider the complex physical products that can be hard to translate digitally. Back in 2020, CMI’s Content Marketing Manufacturing survey showed that only 30% of manufacturers said that their content marketing was sophisticated or mature. 39% were just at the “adolescent stage” - seeing some early success - or at earlier stages.
Yet, like other industries the pandemic has driven the need for change, with buyers coming to expect (and demand) to be able to connect via digital channels - as PWC’s survey shows.
The manufacturing industry faces particular challenges regarding content creation which employee generated content can help solve. I’m going to share the what and the how in this blog, along with five easy ways to get your experts involved with content creation.
First: What Is Employee Generated Content?
Employee Generated Content (ECG) is content that is created by your employees instead of by your marketing department. It can take any form - from blogs and social media posts to videos, images or even podcasts.
It has a number of benefits, such as increasing trustworthiness, authenticity and content production volume.
Three Manufacturing Content Marketing Challenges Employee Generated Content Helps Solve
The CMI’s Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends revealed a number of issues that help explain why the sector is lagging behind others:
- 48% of companies only have a small (or even one person team) serving the entire organisation
- 64% outsource content activities and content creation is by far the most popular task to outsource (at 87%)
- The number one challenge is overcoming the traditional sales and marketing mindset
- 40% find it a challenge to access subject matter experts to create specialised content
- 36% struggle with communicating complex subject matters
|2020||As Reported One Year Ago|
|Overcoming traditional marketing and sales mindset||55%||50%|
|Creating content that appeals to multi-level roles within the target audience(s)||53%||68%|
|Differentiating products/services from the competition||48%||-|
Accommodating subject matter experts in order to create specialized content
|Accessing subject matter experts in order to create specialized content||40%||50%|
|Extensively educating the target audience(s)||38%||37%|
|Communicating complex content||36%||60%|
|Difficulty in reaching target audience(s)||36%||43%|
|Making it through multiple levels of purchasing decision-makers||32%||41%|
Employee Generated Content Reduces The Content Creation Burden
With manufacturing teams generally having to create content for four different audiences and such a small content marketing team to do it, it’s unsurprising that so many businesses outsource their content creation.
While outsourcing content creation can serve as a temporary solution, it can quickly eat into your budget. Employee generated content makes use of your existing internal resources - your existing social superstars and subject matter experts - who, with a little encouragement can help reduce your content burden.
Once onboard, It’s Often Easier For Subject Matter Experts To Contribute
Some subject matter experts feel that they don’t have the time for marketing based activities. Once you get subject matter experts onboard with employee generated content (see these tips here), then they often find it easier to create something themselves:
- Buyers don’t expect a polished piece of content - in fact, they often prefer a raw version
- They’re more in control of the finished product
- They can lean on marketing as and when needed - instead of marketing eating into their time when they need
- They can choose the medium that suits them best (not everyone enjoys writing and videos are often much quicker to create!)
It’s Easier For Them To Explain Complex Subject Matters
There’s a good reason technical copywriters can charge such high fees - manufacturing is full of complex technical concepts and buyers demand more than superficial information, making it much more difficult for non-technical people to write on the matter.
Which is why you’ll often find that technical experts find it difficult to explain complex subject matters to marketing. They’ll often have to sit down with marketing to explain a topic and their views on it, review the draft and then go back and forwards with edits. All of which may make them feel like they may as well have done it themselves.
Your technical experts are fully versed in communicating complex problems to their customers and buyers. They understand what’s seen as jargon and what level of finer detail is needed.
5 Easy Types Of Employee Generated Content Your Manufacturing Experts Can Help With
Demo And Explainer Videos
Manufacturing products are physical in nature and videos are one of the easiest ways to explain how things work. Your experts are probably already doing so, it’s just a case of asking them to record their demos or whiteboard explainers that they use in their day-to-day job.
Factory Tours & Workers In Action
B2B buyers are increasingly looking for a good culture fit when selecting vendors. Factory tour videos or clips or photos of field engineers on the job not only give great insight into your company’s culture, they also showcase technologies in action - and, in our experience, the latter is something that manufacturing buyers (particularly design engineers) are passionate about!
Sharing thoughts on industry insights - such as new trends or emerging technologies - is one of the quickest ways that your experts can start with employee generated content. Blogs don’t need to be long (just ask Seth Godin!) and they don’t even need to be in the written format!
A Curation Of Their Most-Used Resources
Curated lists always perform well in marketing but getting access to the forums and online discussions that manufacturers frequent without proving you’ve got a relevant qualification can be hard. Why not ask them to share their favourite online places for information sharing and why they use them?
Industry-Specific Pricing And Product Information
Again, the chances are that your experts are already creating customer or industry specific pricing and product information. By taking the time to turn this information into content ready for online publication, it forces them to carefully review whether that information is the best version - removing time-consuming second-guessing for future enquiries.
As we’ve said, manufacturing may be lagging behind on digital marketing strategies and face their own unique content challenges but we’re seeing first-hand that the industry is realising it needs to act, and fast. We’re already acting with clients like Henkel who are attempting to get ahead of the curve and behind-the-scenes talks with LinkedIn confirm the same - manufacturing digital strategies such as content marketing are set to explode.