Overcoming Content Marketing Challenges: A Guide for Manufacturers

Crafting content that genuinely stands out and delivers results has become increasingly challenging, especially in the manufacturing industry. You’re navigating a unique landscape where the audience you’re trying to reach is not the average consumer but other businesses with specific needs, challenges, and decision-making processes. 

In manufacturing, it isn’t just about producing content; it’s about producing the right kind of content—content that doesn’t just aim to sell but to inform, educate, and solve problems, establishing your company as a thought leader and trusted advisor in your industry. 

Creating content with such precision and authority takes time, research, access to subject-matter experts, and considerable skill. 

Does this sound familiar? No wonder 78% of manufacturing marketers are unsatisfied with the effectiveness of their content marketing. But you can change that by prioritizing strategic, quality content that speaks to your audience. You can become one of the elite few who are confident and happy with the results their content marketing strategy is producing. 

This guide will navigate you through the top 8 content marketing challenges specific to the manufacturing sector, providing actionable solutions to address each one effectively. Whether you explore the guide in its entirety or jump directly to the sections most relevant to your current challenges, you will gain insights ready for immediate application to enhance your content marketing efforts.

Each section tackles the complexities of content marketing in the manufacturing world, offering you a clear path to refining your strategy and achieving measurable success.

Manufacturing Organizations’ Top 8 Content Marketing Challenges and How To Solve Them

Manufacturing Content Marketing Challenge #1: Creating Content That Appeals to Different Stages of the Buyer’s Journey

In the era of the informed buyer, the sales landscape has dramatically shifted. Today’s buyers arrive in the conversation extremely well-informed, often possessing knowledge that rivals, if not surpasses, that of your sales team. This evolution in buyer behavior presents a unique challenge, particularly in the manufacturing sector, where 62% of marketers need help crafting content that caters to every stage of the buyer’s journey. The reason? Each journey phase—from initial awareness to the decision stage—demands content tailored to meet evolving needs, questions, and concerns. Traditional, one-size-fits-all marketing strategies fail to address the nuanced requirements of the manufacturing sector’s diverse audience.

Solution: Uncover and document the buyer’s journey

To navigate this challenge, you need a deep understanding and comprehensive documentation of the buyer’s journey. This means uncovering the triggers that prompt a prospect to consider your product, grasping the progression of their thought process, and acknowledging their actions as they edge closer to a purchase. Armed with a well-documented buyer’s journey, your team can strategically align content to your prospects’ varied needs and inquiries at each critical stage.

  • Map the content to the Buyer’s Journey: Begin by delineating content that addresses the specific concerns and questions at each stage of the buyer’s journey, from the initial awareness phase to consideration and the final decision.
  • Utilize External Resources for a Fresh Perspective: Engaging an outside party to document the buyer’s journey can offer an objective viewpoint, unencumbered by internal politics or preconceptions, thus ensuring a more accurate representation.
  • Conduct First-Party Research: If necessary, employ third-party resources to conduct first-party research. Insights from your target audience can illuminate their journey, offering a more straightforward path for content alignment.
  • Foster a Collaborative Vision: Organize a workshop with your team to build consensus on the buyer’s journey. This collective endeavor helps guarantee that everyone understands the importance of tailoring content to each journey stage.
  • Directly Address Prospects’ Queries: Craft your content to answer your prospects’ questions directly at each juncture of their journey. This method positions your brand as a trusted advisor, smoothly navigating them toward a purchasing decision.

In today’s knowledge-driven market, understanding and documenting the buyer’s journey transcends a mere task—it becomes a strategic asset. Aligning your content with the distinct stages of this journey boosts engagement with prospects and paves the way for guiding them toward choosing your offerings.

Manufacturing Content Marketing Challenge #2: Aligning content efforts across sales and marketing

You’re not alone if you’ve ever felt the tension of trying to align your sales goals with your marketing strategies. 58% of manufacturers find themselves wrestling to synchronize their sales and marketing teams. If this sounds familiar, you understand the struggle. The key to overcoming this obstacle lies in fostering cooperation, maintaining open communication, and developing a unified strategy that brings both teams onto the same page. Achieving harmony between sales and marketing can significantly boost customer satisfaction and elevate your bottom line. Let’s dive into how you can create a powerful alliance that propels your business forward.

Solution: Break Down Silos

First, you must dismantle the barriers that traditionally separate sales and marketing. Aligning these two teams means cultivating a shared understanding of who your customers are and their needs throughout the buying journey. This alignment isn’t just beneficial for enhancing the customer experience; it acts as a catalyst for your business’s growth.

  • Craft Buyer Personas Together: Work with the sales team to develop buyer personas. These fictional yet data-backed profiles of your buyer segments are instrumental in understanding your customers and influencing their purchasing decisions. Crafting these personas together ensures both teams start on common ground.
  • Map the Buyer’s Journey Collectively: Chart your prospects’ path from initial awareness to becoming customers. When sales and marketing grasp this journey, they can collaborate to deliver precisely timed content, transforming the way you engage with prospects.
  • Host Regular Content Planning Sessions: Organize monthly or quarterly sessions where sales and marketing can align their strategies based on the buyer personas and journey. Use these meetings to discuss recent sales goals and client acquisitions and to unearth new content opportunities. Kick-start these sessions with questions like:
    • What common themes are emerging from our conversations with potential clients?
    • Can we trace the journey of our recent clients—how they found us and what influenced their decision to choose our services?
    • Could any notable client challenges or success story shifts inform our content strategy?
  • Secure a Time Commitment from Sales: Recognize that in the manufacturing realm, your sales team often holds invaluable subject matter expertise. Leveraging this unique insight is the secret to crafting standout content in the AI age. To ensure your content truly resonates, obtain a commitment from the sales team to collaborate on content creation. Structure your content schedule around their availability to guarantee authenticity and depth in your messaging.

By embracing these strategies, you can bridge the gap between sales and marketing, ensuring a seamless flow of communication and strategy that aligns with your business goals. Remember, when sales and marketing move together as a unified force, they create an unbeatable synergy that drives customer engagement and accelerates business growth.

Manufacturing Content Marketing Challenge #3: Communicating internally among teams/silos

In the manufacturing industry, where the intricacies of products and processes demand in-depth understanding, producing content that effectively communicates these complexities presents a unique challenge. Approximately 56% of marketers in this sector need help with internal communication barriers and siloed departments, significantly impacting their ability to create technically rich and accurate content. The necessity for subject matter experts (SMEs) to contribute to content creation is paramount; however, silos often hinder their involvement. These barriers can lead to misunderstandings regarding the content’s purpose, delays in production schedules, or the marketing team having to proceed with incomplete information—compromising the technical depth and authenticity of the content.

Solution: Break Down Communication Barriers

Overcoming the silos and communication gaps is crucial for ensuring that content not only resonates with the target audience but also accurately reflects the technical sophistication of your manufacturing processes and products. Here’s a strategic approach to facilitate this:

  • Foster a Customer-Centric Culture: Start by cultivating an environment where every team understands that accurate and insightful content directly impacts customer satisfaction and loyalty. This shared vision encourages departments to work together, bridging the gap between marketing needs and technical expertise.
  • Establish a Content Liaison Role: Create positions dedicated to facilitating communication between the marketing team and technical departments. These individuals can ensure that the technical insights necessary for content creation are effectively communicated and prioritized.
  • Integrate SMEs into Content Planning Sessions: Involve subject matter experts early in the content planning process. This inclusion helps them grasp the purpose and importance of the content, ensuring their technical knowledge seamlessly integrates from the start.
  • Leverage Technology to Facilitate Expert Collaboration: Adopt collaboration tools designed to streamline the contribution process for SMEs. Platforms that support easy document sharing, commenting, and review allow SMEs to offer their input more efficiently without significantly disrupting their primary responsibilities.
  • Schedule Regular Cross-Functional Meetings: Organize consistent meetings that bring marketing and technical staff together to discuss content needs, clarify technical details, and strategize on effectively incorporating expert insights.
  • Educate Teams on the Value of Technical Content: Host workshops to highlight the critical role of technical accuracy in building brand credibility. Understanding the strategic importance of their contributions can motivate technical experts to engage more actively in content creation.
  • Optimize SME Engagement: Recognize the value of SMEs’ time by preparing concise, targeted inquiries or content briefs for their review. This approach ensures their input is both relevant and impactful, enhancing the technical depth of your content without imposing undue demands on their schedules.

By prioritizing a customer-centric culture and implementing these strategies, manufacturing firms can improve the collaboration between marketing and technical teams. This concerted effort ensures the production of technically accurate, engaging content that reflects the brand’s expertise and meets the customers’ needs.

Manufacturing Content Marketing Challenge #4: Developing consistency with measurement

Nearly half of the marketers in the manufacturing industry, 47% to be precise, find themselves grappling with a significant challenge: establishing consistency in measuring the performance of their content. According to the Content Matters 2022 report, 49% of content marketers must know how their content truly performs despite unreliable tracking metrics. This gap in understanding and measuring content effectiveness can lead to making strategic decisions without the clarity that data provides, risking the impact of your content marketing efforts and, by extension, your brand’s credibility.

Solution: Implement a Structured Approach to Measurement

Achieving consistent and meaningful measurement of your content marketing efforts is crucial for illuminating the effectiveness of your strategies and demonstrating the value of your complex products. Here’s how you can build a solid foundation for measuring your content marketing ROI:

  • Define Clear Marketing Objectives: Begin with crystal-clear marketing goals that directly support your business objectives. Knowing what you aim to achieve with your content—from raising brand awareness to generating leads—sets the stage for relevant measurement.
  • Identify Key Performance Metrics: Pinpoint the specific metrics that align with your objectives. Whether it’s website traffic, lead conversion rates, or engagement levels on social media, selecting the right metrics is essential for accurately assessing your content’s performance.
  • Invest in Analytics Tools: Leverage advanced data analytics platforms to track and analyze your content’s performance. These tools can provide comprehensive insights into how your content resonates with your audience and contributes to your marketing objectives.
  • Utilize Automation and Tracking Tools: Deploy tools that automate data collection on customer interactions and conversions. This technology enables more precise ROI calculations by capturing detailed insights into how users engage with your content.
  • Align Marketing with Sales Objectives: Ensure your marketing efforts align with your sales goals. Collaborate with the sales team to get feedback on the quality of leads generated through different content channels. This alignment helps evaluate your content strategy’s effectiveness in driving sales.
  • Routinely Review and Optimize: Make it a regular practice to assess your content marketing performance. Use the data collected to identify areas for improvement and refine your strategies for enhanced ROI.

Overcoming the challenge of developing consistency in content measurement is vital for manufacturing marketers. By following these steps, you can move from making decisions based on intuition to making informed strategy choices grounded in data. This enhances the efficiency of your content marketing efforts and significantly boosts your ability to demonstrate the tangible value of your products to your audience.

Manufacturing Content Marketing Challenge #5: Accessing subject matter experts to create content

For 41% of manufacturing marketers, one of the biggest hurdles is accessing subject matter experts (SMEs) when they need them most. If you’ve ever had to wait for critical information from an SME to meet your content deadlines, you know how frustrating it can be.

SMEs are invaluable to your organization, often tasked with making significant contributions due to their expertise. But it’s essential to remember that they have their own set of priorities. And, if we’re being honest, repeatedly asking them the same questions isn’t doing anyone any favors. It’s likely as frustrating for them as it is for you waiting on their input.

Solution: Streamline Access to SME Knowledge 

Making it easier for SMEs to contribute to content creation can significantly improve your access to their expertise. Here are four strategies to help you get the high-quality content you need without the wait:

  • Draft First, Then Review: Instead of asking SMEs to craft responses from scratch, send them a first draft of your content for their review. While you might have a different level of expertise, making an educated guess can provide a good starting point for SMEs to refine.
  • Opt for Direct, In-Person Communication: While email is convenient, direct communication can be more effective, help clarify your needs, and expedite the process. 
  • Show Appreciation: Never underestimate the power of appreciation. Simple gestures of gratitude can make SMEs feel valued and more willing to contribute. Whether it’s a public thank you during a meeting or a personal note, acknowledging their efforts encourages future cooperation.
  • Leverage Existing Content: To avoid bombarding SMEs with repetitive inquiries, develop a strategy to reuse their previously shared knowledge. Creating a knowledge-sharing community or database where their insights are documented and easily accessible for future reference can save time for everyone involved.

Solution: Implement SME Engagement Tactics

Effectively integrating Subject Matter Expert (SME) insights into your content strategy requires a proactive approach to collaboration. By implementing specific engagement tactics, you can ensure a smoother collaboration process that respects both their time and the invaluable contributions they bring to the table.

  • Involve Them in Content Strategy: Early involvement in planning can help align SME contributions with your content goals for the year.
  • Conduct Interviews: Conduct a detailed interview with your SMEs. Interviews can be an efficient way to gather a wealth of knowledge in a short amount of time.
  • Encourage Guest Posts: Invite SMEs to write guest posts on topics they’re passionate about. Guest posts will enrich your content and give them a platform to share their expertise.
  • Gather Quotes for Your Content: A quick quote from an SME can add credibility and depth to your e-books, blog posts, or articles.

Adapting these strategies can transform how you collaborate with SMEs. This approach ensures you get the valuable insights you need while respecting their time and contributions. It streamlines content production and fosters a culture of cooperation and appreciation across your organization.

Manufacturing Content Marketing Challenge #6: Achieving consistency with messaging

For 36% of manufacturing marketers, ensuring consistent messaging across all channels and platforms represents a significant challenge. Consistency is the backbone of effective communication, essential for engaging your audience and building a trustworthy brand. When your messaging aligns in style, tone, and content, it fosters recognition and strengthens your brand’s position in the market. However, when messages are misaligned, it can lead to confusion among your customers, prospects, and even within your team, potentially impacting your bottom line. Research suggests that presenting a consistent message across all platforms could boost revenue by up to 23%—highlighting the costly impact of inconsistency.

Solution: Establish Messaging Uniformity

Creating a unified and coherent brand message requires strategic planning and implementing systems to ensure consistency. Here’s how you can align your messaging across all touchpoints:

  • Define Your Core Message and Value Proposition: Start by articulating your brand’s core message and unique value proposition (UVP). This clarity will be the foundation for all your marketing communications, ensuring they convey the same key messages.
  • Develop Detailed Personas: Understanding your target audience is crucial. Develop detailed personas that represent your ideal customers. This insight will guide the tone, style, and content of your messaging to ensure it resonates with your audience.
  • Create a Consistent Brand Voice: Establish a brand voice that reflects your company’s personality and values. This voice should be used consistently across all content to reinforce brand recognition and loyalty.
  • Centralize Marketing and Messaging Assets: Prevent breakdowns in messaging consistency by creating a centralized database accessible to all stakeholders. This database should contain the latest versions of all key marketing and messaging assets, ensuring everyone uses the most current and aligned materials.

Addressing the challenge of messaging inconsistency clarifies your brand’s message to your audience and streamlines internal communications, leading to more effective marketing efforts. By taking these steps, you ensure your brand’s message is clear, cohesive, and compelling across all platforms, setting the stage for increased engagement, customer loyalty, and revenue growth.

Manufacturing Content Marketing Challenge #7: Differentiating products/services from the competition’s

In the competitive manufacturing landscape, 32% of marketers report struggling to showcase how their products or services stand out from their rivals. The essence of product differentiation lies in highlighting the unique features, benefits, or qualities of your offerings that are not available elsewhere. It’s about identifying and emphasizing what makes your products the preferred choice for customers. However, achieving effective differentiation requires a deep understanding of your customer base, as the success of differentiation strategies hinges on targeting and emphasizing benefits that resonate with your audience’s specific needs and preferences.

Solution: Strategically Define and Communicate Your Unique Value and Targeting Strategy

To set your products apart in the crowded marketplace, consider the following approaches:

  • Understand the True Value of Your Product: Dive deep into what makes your product valuable to your customers. This understanding is crucial, especially for technical or complex manufactured products. About 42% of manufacturing marketers find demonstrating product value challenging, underscoring the importance of clearly communicating your offerings’ unique benefits and features.
  • Lean into Your Niche: Avoid trying to appeal to everyone. Instead, “niche down” and concentrate on your target market. Specializing allows you to position your brand as the superior choice within a specific domain. By focusing on a niche, you can more effectively communicate how your product differs from and outperforms the competition.
  • Customize the Content Experience: Stand out by offering personalized content experiences. Allow prospects to “choose their own adventure” by navigating through content that speaks directly to their needs and interests. This approach highlights your product’s unique aspects and demonstrates an understanding of and commitment to addressing individual customer preferences.
  • Highlight Your Competitive Advantage: Be proactive in comparing your products. Know what differentiates you and ensure this differentiation is evident across all your marketing materials. This differentiation could include unique features, superior quality, exceptional service, or innovative technology.
  • Build Brand Awareness Through Unique Brand Identity: To build brand awareness, utilize every element of your brand, from your logo and storytelling to your mission and the unique value of your product. A distinctive product or service becomes memorable and can quickly spark conversations, distinguishing it from the competition.
  • Foster Customer Relationships: By tailoring your product or service to meet specific desires or needs, you attract a dedicated audience and lay the groundwork for lasting relationships. Satisfied customers are likelier to remain loyal and recommend your brand to others, amplifying your differentiation through positive word-of-mouth.

Embracing these strategies can help overcome the challenge of differentiating your products or services in the manufacturing industry. By focusing on what makes your offerings unique and effectively communicating this to your target audience, you can achieve a competitive edge, enhance brand recognition, and cultivate stronger customer connections.

Manufacturing Content Marketing Challenge #8: Continuing to make a business case for content marketing

Even as content marketing gains traction within the manufacturing sector, with 71% of marketers acknowledging its growing importance over the last year, 27% still face the uphill battle of justifying continued investment in content strategies. Despite recognizing the value and increased necessity for content marketing, these professionals need help securing more resources, such as additional staff, increased budget, and better access to subject matter experts. Convincing decision-makers to commit to a long-term strategy can take time and effort, especially when immediate returns are not guaranteed.

Solution: Crafting a Compelling Business Case for Content Marketing

To advocate for the resources needed for effective content marketing, you must present a well-defined and persuasive argument to those holding the purse strings. Here’s how to make your case:

  • Highlight the Necessity for Content in Search Visibility: With over 88% of people using search engines to learn more about companies, having a solid content presence is essential for attracting potential customers online. Emphasize that with strategic content, your business can retain visibility to engage competitors and rank actively in search results.
  • Illustrate the Compounding Returns of Content Marketing: Stress that content marketing is an investment that grows in value over time. A robust content library enhances your authority and online presence and continues to attract and engage new prospects long after the content is published.
  • Demonstrate Content Marketing’s Alignment with Business Goals: Link the benefits of content marketing directly to your organization’s immediate objectives. Whether building brand awareness, increasing website traffic, generating leads, or growing an email list, show how content marketing strategies directly contribute to achieving these goals with measurable metrics like organic search visibility, site traffic analytics, and lead generation figures.
  • Emphasize the Competitive Disadvantage of Inaction: Reference industry studies, such as those by the Content Marketing Institute, to underscore the widespread adoption of content marketing among B2B businesses. Point out that delaying content marketing efforts puts your company at a significant competitive disadvantage, making it harder to catch up over time.
  • Showcase Long-Term Benefits Beyond Immediate ROI: While immediate results may not always be evident, emphasize the long-term strategic benefits of content marketing, such as sustained brand growth, an engaged audience, and a repository of valuable resources that support sales and marketing efforts.

By effectively communicating the indispensable role of content marketing in today’s digital landscape, you can make a convincing case for the necessary resources to support your strategy. Having the required resources ensures your company remains competitive and sets the stage for sustained growth and success in the evolving manufacturing sector.

Navigating the Future: Final Thoughts on Elevating Your Content Strategy 

Navigating the world of manufacturing content marketing is no small feat. From establishing a solid measurement framework to differentiating your products in a crowded market, the challenges are as varied as they are complex. Yet, as we’ve explored, each challenge presents an opportunity to refine your approach, deepen your engagement with your audience, and ultimately drive sustainable growth for your business.

Tackling the complexities of content marketing in the manufacturing sector hinges on mastering a few core strategies:

  • Understanding your audience through detailed personas
  • Mapping the buyer’s journey
  • Aligning on shared goals and objectives

These foundational elements are crucial for content marketing success and bolstering your overall marketing strategy. By focusing on these repeatable actions, you can address various challenges, from ensuring messaging consistency to differentiating your products in a competitive market.

If the path forward seems daunting, or if you’re looking for tailored guidance to navigate these challenges, Brilliant Metrics is here to help. Our suite of strategy workshops, including buyer’s journey workshops, persona workshops, and content strategy workshops, is designed to equip your team with the insights and tools needed to uncover and document your unique path to content marketing success.

Visit our Brilliant Metrics Strategy Page to learn more about how our workshops can transform your content marketing efforts. Together, we can unlock the full potential of your content marketing strategy, paving the way for a future of growth and innovation.

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