The power of content

Planting seeds that grow into future sales

Almost always, as I’m interviewing a customer to learn about them, their operations, and the successes they’re achieving with a manufacturer’s product, they volunteer feedback the manufacturer finds incredibly useful.

I was recently sent to cover a story on the first-ever purchase of a newly redesigned piece of equipment. The article was to be a sort of product review from the new owner’s perspective. What made it particularly interesting was that the new owner had no familiarity with the brand before this purchase. I was curious as to what it was that seduced him into changing brands.

He told me it started with an article. He’d been looking to upgrade his previous equipment with his former manufacturer. He had a model picked out but changed his mind when he saw a piece about this new design in a magazine.

I knew exactly the article he was talking about – it was one that we had written. He’d never considered a rig like it before or thought about that manufacturer’s offerings. Yet the story had gotten his attention right away, at exactly the right time. He’d torn out the article and kept it with him.

During the next few months, he followed up on it. He asked around. He got in touch with the manufacturer. He was impressed by their facilities and their customer service. He learned their history and their reputation. He went from “knowing little to nothing of the company,” he said, to confidently purchasing from them.

We almost never get to put a black and white assessment on marketing ROI like this. The content we generate as press releases, case studies, customer spotlights – these are seeds we can easily forget we sowed. Yet, if we hadn’t planted this one, this chain of events would not even have begun.

It underscores a lesson once again. Never underestimate the power of content marketing.

Joe Bradfield is senior writer for Ellenbecker Communications

Are improved equipment sales adding resources to marketing departments in 2015?

I was encouraged early on in 2014 by articles in the trade press forecasting slight improvements to the construction sector. But it really wasn’t until CONEXPO in March that I started hearing stories that made me believe we might be at a turning point.

One manufacturer told me that they had done more business on the first day of the show than they’d done in all five days of the last show, back in 2011. It’s not a surprise that business would be better in 2014, but it was the degree of difference that was surprising. And this wasn’t the only time I heard that kind of story.

A big part of my job entails talking to non-clients (or, as I prefer to say, “potential clients”) and recently a new narrative began to emerge. I started hearing very similar comments from a number of marketing managers of companies catering to the construction industry. They could be summed up as, “If sales can maintain the current pace, we’re going to be able to do more in 2015.” Depending on the company, that may mean more advertising dollars, or maybe a greater focus on content creation, perhaps more investment in social media or just catching up on all those brochures that need to be updated. Some companies without agencies now may consider signing an agency in 2015, some will add staff in-house, and some will turn to freelancers to help them keep up with the demand for more quality content.

For construction equipment manufacturers, there is certainly more reason for optimism than simple anecdotal evidence, though. Construction Equipment reported in its June issue on the results of their reader survey that indicated that almost two-thirds of respondents expected to replace some portion of their equipment fleet this year. In August Equipment Today reported on a study by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers that found “40 to 43 percent of companies with fewer than 1,000 employees indicate that they will increase fleet size over the next 12 months… and about 25 percent of companies with 1,000 or more employees are planning to expand their fleets.”

What about your department? Are you thinking about doing more next year? Have you been given more resources to support your 2015 action plan? And for those of you in other industries, how does your outlook for 2015 differ? Feel free to give me a call if you’d like to bounce some ideas off someone—no commitment necessary. There are incremental steps you can take to improve your content creation, for example, that are scalable and affordable.

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Fueston is an Account Manager for Ellenbecker Communications, is responsible for new business development, and contributes as a staff writer. He believes in the intersection between Sales and Marketing.