• Steven Johnson

5 Challenges Food Equipment Manufacturers Face When Creating a Content Strategy

The Content Marketing Institute shows that 63% of manufacturing marketers viewed their content marketing efforts only to be moderately successful. Only 9% thought it was very successful, and only 1% said very successful.

It's not certain if food equipment manufacturing marketers as a whole view their content marketing efforts to be successful. It's reasonable to assume they are in the same ballpark.

It's possible, and highly probable, that food manufacturing marketers are only "meh" about their content strategy because they face different kinds of challenges that others don't. Here are five pain-points food equipment manufacturers face when creating a content strategy and how they can quell that pain.

Long Buying Cycles

B2B and B2C food equipment manufacturing products are costly to produce but built to last. This makes them high-ticket items for the consumer. Because of this, the decision process is more prolonged, especially in the B2B sector.

Long buying cycles can put marketers in a challenging position when deciding what type of content to create and how much. Is it better to try to bring in more leads at the top of the funnel? How much effort should you spend on a mid-funnel prospect?

The Content Marketing Institute states that 50% of the total content produced by manufacturing marketers targets the top of the funnel. With only 41% of companies saying to have a documented content strategy, this isn't surprising.

This new-lead-focused mentality results from manufacturing marketers producing content geared towards everyone and not having a defined target audience.

When it comes to food manufacturers, the target audience may seem straightforward. B2B oven manufacturers target food production companies, hotels, restaurants, and the like. It's true, but there will be a different buyer for each of those various food industry sectors.

In this situation, marketers often create a generic piece of content that might appeal to any of those buyers. It's much more effective to identify a specific type of buyer's values that aligns with the company's values.

By doing this, a company can speak to those values through content. Thus, attracting the best customer for your company. These like-minded customers will be more loyal to your brand and even advocate for you.

This brings us to our next challenge for food equipment manufacturers.

Conveying Company Values in an Authentic Way.

What does your company care about? That is, other than profits? Why did the founder start the company? What's his/her story? What unifies the employees other than a paycheck?

For any company to create a content marketing strategy, the first thing that it has to do is define their company's values.

Some companies do this well, some not so much or not at all. Stating values is not a drop-down on your about us section of the website that lists things like; hard-work, integrity, honesty.

A company states its values by action. Organizations do this by getting involved with social issues, charitable contributions, developing business standards, or by adding intrinsic value to the products themselves. A great way to tie your values into your products is by creating awareness through content.

No other food company does this better than Ben & Jerry's. Its "values" section on its website is a four-part drop-down menu that explains its core values in detail. Ben & Jerry’s created a story behind the brand that defines them through their beliefs.

Does valuing racial equality play into someone's decision to buy ice cream? Maybe not, but if that issue is important to them and they are aware of Ben & Jerry's stance, they will likely choose theirs. Not only that, they'll be willing to pay more for it.

The other side of the coin is that Ben & Jerry's doesn't want racists to buy their ice cream. Let's face it, that's a large portion of the population that they're forsaking. But they seem to be doing just fine.

Food Equipment manufacturers are reluctant to take stances like this because their market can be more specialized. Therefore, their audience is smaller, and their product is more expensive.

There's a saying in the content marketing world that goes something like: "If you try to speak to everyone all at once, no one will hear you." When your company speaks to those who resonate with your values, they are more likely to respond.

Demonstrating Expertise Without Selling

Most food equipment manufacturing prospects, especially B2B, don't want to be sold. They want to know about your company's expertise before they decide to buy from you.

Manufacturing companies, in general, understand this for the most part. According to the Content Marketing Institute report, 51% of companies prioritize their audience's informational needs over their sales/promotional message.

However, manufacturing companies are a bit unclear on how to develop a strategic approach to their content. Only 36% of companies always create their content based on specific points of the buyer's journey, or otherwise known as the sales funnel.

This likely goes back to the fact that many companies don't know WHY they are creating their content. They just know they need it, so they make it and hope it sticks.

For example, many manufacturing companies love a good white paper. They are informative and a great way to explain complex topics, innovations, or costly purchase decisions without the overtones of selling.

White paper expert Gordon Graham says that they are great for generating leads, standing out from a crowd, and engaging prospects. Companies can disperse them at any point in the customer journey.

Without a proper content strategy to guide people, it's easy for these very costly forms of content to be ignored. It happens most frequently when they're introduced too early or too late in a sales cycle. Or when there are no other content forms to support them.

There is a variety of content types that any company can use to support a white paper. Good examples of such supportive content are blogs, e-newsletters, and webinars.

Being able to repurpose white papers into other pieces of content is an added benefit of the long and in-depth reports. The critical thing to remember is that when creating this content is to tell a story.

Targeting a Company Rather Than Those Who Run it

All the time and money spent creating content has to help drive sales. It's the fundamental nature of business, and anyone who says otherwise is lying or deluded.

Food equipment manufacturers, and other big-ticket item industries, can sometimes forget that they must appeal to emotion.

It's easy to see companies as cold, results-driven entities that use money for fuel. Websites of many manufacturing companies do a great job of perpetuating this viewpoint.

Companies do want results, but they are also run by people who have goals and dreams tied to the company's success. The decision-maker for a baked goods company looking for that perfect conveyor oven wants to increase production by 10%. That is a company goal.

However, the story that she has already told herself is that she'll get her bonus if she buys and hits her production numbers. Then, she may even get a promotion. After which, she will be able to move her family into that good school district. The list goes on.

It's important to remember this when developing a content strategy for your food manufacturing company. A well-written sales sheet will list the features and benefits of a product. But a good content strategy will already have sold that product to the buyer without a word of sales copy.

Using the Right Tools to Tell a Story and Evoke Emotion

These mini-stories that your prospects have told themselves are the touch-points that companies need to understand and incorporate into their content strategy.

Having blogs and e-newsletters are excellent devices in telling your company's story and steering the "content ship" towards other pieces of informative, research-driven content like white papers or e-books.

There's perhaps no other better form of storytelling content that speaks to prospects' emotions while emphasizing your company values other than a case study.

However, it's important to remember that case studies are stories. Many companies skimp on them by condensing them down to three or four short paragraphs that only state the facts.

Case studies should focus on the pain points of the customer and highlight how your company helped. It's an excellent opportunity to tell a success story that will very likely resonate with many of your prospects. They should include photos, infographics, and many quotes from everyone involved with the process.

If your company doesn't have the budget for a case study, testimonials and reviews are a suitable substitution.

Need Assistance?

If your company is struggling with creating a documented content strategy, that's okay. Managing a large company's marketing operations, or even a smaller one, involves so much more than just content. However, it's an essential part of your overall marketing plan and a crucial part of developing any inbound lead system.

Please don't hesitate to contact me to discuss your content strategy goals and ideas.

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