Seven Mistakes to Avoid in your Content Strategy

October 14, 2015

Today, we have a guest blog from Machinery Zone on some of the common pitfalls found in a company’s content strategy.


Every construction company with an online presence feels the pressure to create consistent, high-quality content. When done properly, it represents a great way to generate site traffic, build brand awareness and demonstrate your expertise to the world. Every blog post, article and other piece of content you generate is an opportunity to plant seeds that could eventually blossom into a steady stream of viable leads. Are you doing it right? Here are the seven mistakes to avoid in your content strategy.

1) Skipping the editorial strategy set-up phase

Too often, communication projects are missing a guideline. To create an efficient content strategy in sync with your goals, it is essential to set up a solid editorial strategy.

To whom are you going to address your content? What is its purpose?

What are you looking to accomplish?

What is your editorial line and tone?

At what frequency will you publish articles?

These questions will enable you to establish a work methodology and an editorial calendar. Measure your results along the way and adjust your actions according to your analysis, but remember to stay true to your core strategy.

2) Pushing forward commercially focused content

Sales pitches and presentations do not create emotional brand attachment. If you want to see a rise in customer loyalty, offer generous and (almost) disinterested advice and tips to your readers. Share and spread your knowledge. When you educate your customers, they see you as an expert. They trust you and, consequently, they are more likely to buy from you.

In order to produce successful marketing content, it is important to ask yourself:

Is my content truly original, does it offer any added value?

What content will be valuable to my audience and to my clients?

Instead of focusing on selling a product or a service, offer useful, educational content to your audience. Be simple, clear and concise. Forget about technical jargon. Adopt appropriate language and learn to popularize technical concepts. Be interesting and entertaining.

3) Overlooking your target audience

You are a specialist in the construction industry. You host a blog that is appreciated and recognized by professionals in your business sector. But are these professionals really those you want to sell your products or services to?

Knowing your target audience is key to successful marketing content. It is essential to analyze your Google Analytics statistics and clearly identify your clients, those who you are really interested in.

Who are they?

What are their needs and desires? What problems do they encounter?

What vocabulary do they use?

The more you will help your audience and offer solutions to the challenges they encounter, the more they will enjoy, comment and share your content on social media and become your ambassadors.

4) Publishing low-quality content

Long sentences, lack of keywords, poorly explained jargon, major spelling errors, copy and pasted text from the company brochure. These are the main characteristics of poor-quality content.

No matter how exciting the topic is, a poorly written article will not capture the reader’s attention. It can be difficult to read onscreen, create misunderstandings and exasperate industry experts. Worse, it can discredit your expertise.

5) Omitting content promotion

You’ve focused on writing an excellent article and posted it on your blog. But if you do nothing to promote it, no one will know just how great it is!

An effective content strategy does not only address content creation. It also involves distributing, promoting and optimizing content.

Carefully select your communication channels. Rather than dispersing yourself on every existing social network, focus on those on which your audience is present and active.

For example, if your target clientele consists of industry professionals, optimize your presence on Twitter and LinkedIn. If you are selling products where visuals play a major role in conversion rates (house building, gate installation), concentrate your efforts on social networks dedicated to images such as Pinterest and Instagram.

6) Neglecting existing content

You are planning to redesign your website? Before you delete everything, identify which content deserves to be saved, updated and optimized.

Quality content is always of interest to the reader and can be recycled. Obsolete articles may simply need to be updated with recent key figures. Also, when writing a new article, consider making a link to other content-related articles.

7)  Failing to optimize content for search engines

The content you provide to your website visitors is the key to success, not only from a conversion point of view, but from a ranking point of view.

Your main goal should always be to satisfy your audience. However, properly optimizing your content by following a few simple SEO rules, ones that will not compromise the quality of your article, is essential to improve your ranking on Google.

For instance, search engines are more likely to offer better ranking to longer blog posts over 250 words. Work your target keywords in the SEO title, the URL, on-page headline and throughout the content without overkilling it. Add ALT text to your photo and invite your users to share their experiences. A post with an actively engaged comments section is a clear signal that the page has value.

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Does Your Company Have the Patience for Content Marketing?

October 6, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

We live in a society that expects immediate gratification. This spills over into our business lives, and companies expect an immediate ROI on almost everything today — Content Marketing is no exception.

Some companies are putting more eggs in the content marketing basket and are expecting big results in a short period of time. The problem is, to build a loyal audience, it takes time. They need to get to know, like and trust you and that doesn’t happen overnight.

If you want immediate results, use traditional outbound tactics like direct mail to generate short-term activity.

Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute found in interviewing a number of entrepreneurs for his new book, Content Inc., that it took at least 15 months to grow a loyal audience.

This is no surprise for those of us who have been doing this for some time. For those that are trying to get a content program going they need to do some ground work to let management what to expect and when to expect it.

Joe offers some suggestions on getting in the game while you try to build a case for the BIG push.

  • Do a pilot program  choose a market category and put metrics like increases search engine ranking or number of leads that will demonstrate to the bean counters that it’s working.
  • Fear Factor – analyze your competition and make the case that your company is losing web visibility.
  • Find a sugar daddy – identify solutions to key pain points for your sales leaders and you may find that they not only will become your advocate, but may find funds short term to fund your efforts.

The bottom line is that it takes time, so be patient!

Be the Resource

September 16, 2015

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent at Sonnhalter

“Content Marketing” has been a buzzword for a few years now, and quite frankly, it can be a confusing term to translate to your everyday marketing strategy. But for manufacturers, it all boils down to one simple sentence:

Be a resource.

You have a product, your competitors have a product, but now more than ever, your current and potential customers need information. Just like you, they are dealing with a skill gap. Just like you, they need to establish a way to transfer knowledge and training to a new generation of workers. Be there to help, and sales takes care of themselves.


For generations, John Deere has published The Furrow. Currently, Lincoln Electric has garnered justified publicity and acclaim for taking what was The Stabilizer and updating it as Arc Magazine. And there are more examples.

For all their marketing and CRM uses, the real purpose of both is to be a resource. Both companies have chosen to make best practices, product information and collective knowledge a matter of public knowledge, and in so doing, they have engendered customer loyalty and established themselves as “industry experts.” They have become the resource. They have transcended the marketplace of products and become the leaders in the marketplace of ideas.

The key to an effective program is to make the same essential information accessible in multiple formats and repurpose it as much as possible.

As an example, take a newly developed solution and:

  1. Develop a press release
  2. Write a white paper
  3. Host a webinar based on the white paper
  4. Take the questions from the webinar and develop short videos for posting on social media
  5. Use the video links as the basis of an email campaign
  6. Use responses to the email campaign to feed your lead generation system
  7. Write a success story about a company that implements the solution, showing gains in productivity or cost reductions

So, the same essential information has now been repurposed seven different ways, generating leads and exposure all along the way.

And best of all, when a customer you never even knew about searches for information on that solution, they find you.

Content Marketing: Who has the Advantage – Big Brands or Small Ones?

May 27, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

gorillaI always like stories of the little guys who take on the 800-lb. gorilla and win the battle. One of the benefits of social media and content marketing is you don’t have to be an 800-lb. gorilla to succeed.

In my opinion, it’s the one who is consistent on providing good content and responding in a timely matter that really counts.

All too often larger companies need to go through a “process” that is very time-consuming for both posting content and answering questions. They may have a bigger staff, but do they know your target customer? They may be able to outspend you, but can you out-market them?

Smaller companies, for the most part, have closer and more frequent contact with customers and know what’s on their minds. Customers don’t care how big you are, they just want solutions/answers to their questions, and if you can offer them more and better content, then you win.

So what constitutes a good Content Marketing Strategy?

Here are some tips:

  • Know your customer
  • Know their pain points
  • Anticipate their questions
  • Know where they look for info and be there
  • Timeliness of responding to questions
  • Be consistent and post content regularly

By following these simple guidelines, you will get the recognition you’re looking for, create engagement with potential customers and become a brand leader. Companies large or small need to focus on customers’ needs and always answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”

If you liked this post, you may want to read:

New Content Marketing Research for Manufacturers

Why PR Should be a Part of your Content Marketing Strategy

Do’s and Don’ts of Content Marketing

Do You Use Relationship Marketing When Trying to Reach Contractors?

May 12, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter


I’ve always been a big believer in relationship selling. After all, we usually buy stuff from people we know, like and trust. Agree? So why not take that to another step in the selling process by using the same principles to your marketing efforts?

This is especially true now that content and content marketing is such a big part of everyone’s overall strategy.

We all have heard the saying that Content is King and Community is its Kingdom, but what brings them together? It’s building solid relationships with Contractors and Tradesmen using relationship marketing.

I recently read a post by Wade Harman, Why relationship marketing is the key to your content, where he outlines a strong case for using this type of tactic.

He points out that we need to know and understand what our target wants and needs. They want solutions, not necessarily a sales pitch. You need to make yourself available in conversations with contractors.

He also points out that we should collaborate with others that share the same passion. For an example, say your target is professional plumbers. You want to focus on products that will help them do their install better. You’re not interested (nor capable) in helping them market their plumbing business locally.

Why not team up with someone who’s focus is just that, like Plumbers or Darren Slaughter who specializes in contractor marketing.

This blog focuses on helping manufacturers better communicate with contractors and professional tradesmen. We have three challenges: 1) identify our audience, 2) give them meaningful content, and 3) keep them coming back. One of the most important things I try to communicate is that to be successful, you must be able to engage and have a genuine relationship with your reader.

Here are some steps to build those relationships:

  • A genuine relationship starts with you – start with an open and positive mindset and be willing to work on the relationship.
  • Make posts as helpful and useful as you can – it’s not about you, it’s about your readers’ problems and concerns.
  • Be helpful and positive in all interactions – whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or your blog…always be helpful, positive and upbeat.
  • Encourage discussion in comments – you’re not the only one with good ideas. Make sure to engage on your response and ask their opinion.
  • Give back on other blogs – link when appropriate to other blogs, visit their sites and make comments and write guest posts for them.

One of the most important points is you can’t fake this stuff. If you are just pretending to care about your readers, if you don’t really want to talk to them, they’ll feel it and then you’ve lost them.

Are Your Employees Brand Ambassadors? Why Not?

April 22, 2015

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent at Sonnhalter


Photo Courtesy of Osborn

Do your employees know where your products are used? Do they know the applications the parts they make make possible? Are they aware of the history and critical nature of your company? There are many simple, cost-effective ways to increase productivity and morale by implementing a program that lets them know.

To land new business, you’re always told to “Tell Your Story” well. It’s just as important to tell it internally. Why?

It makes employees feel like part of the plan – Let them see the big picture and where you as a company fit into it

It helps them see the long view, not just their day-to-day part in it – There’s a plan, not just a daily task

It builds internal networks – If Engineering tells their story to Customer Service, everyone sees people and faces, not silos

It allows them to be brand ambassadors – If they know the story you want told, then that’s the story that gets re-told

So how do you reach them? That’s the easiest part—the same way you reach new customers:

Host an Employee Open House – Let them show off to their kids, and see what goes on in other departments

Giving a tour of your facility? Engage employees – Don’t treat them like an extension of the machine they’re working, but have them describe what they do, and the cost savings, quality assurance or other aspect of their work

Start an internal newsletter – It’s a great place to either post external press releases, or develop case studies for outside use

Cover the Walls – Advertising blown up as posters reinforce your brand internally and when guests tour your facility

Let them hear & be heard – Have a quarterly or monthly meeting of non-managerial representatives from every department, and allow for an open exchange or ideas, complaints and stories

Highlight your company’s history whenever possible – Old ads, press clippings or photos give a sense of pride and place

Have a mission statement – And stress it internally. Print it on business cards, coffee cups in the vending machines; anywhere it will be seen regularly

You don’t need to be told that Manufacturing has gotten a bad rap. For years it’s been the butt of jokes, seen as a “dead end” and been declared all but extinct in this country by countless talking heads.

Well those people are wrong. And the house they left to get into the car they drove to the studio where they made their comments is testament to it. And it’s time your employees knew that too.

I once heard a really cool story about the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. It has a unique elevator that kind of side-steps its way up to the top of the arch. Well if you look into the arch, instead of out at the view, along the way you’ll see large welder-generators. They’ve been there since the Arch was built in the mid 60’s. Because of the way the arch was made, it was impossible to move them, so they just left them, placed another (which also got left behind) and kept building.

As a former employee of that welding manufacturer, I think that’s fascinating, and if I could ever get over my nagging fear of heights, it would be the best part of the trip up. To know that something that was made in the same building I worked in was instrumental in a project like that, it just boggles the mind. All the “ordinary” people, doing their “ordinary” job at factories all across the country added up to a modern marvel like that. Inspire that sense of awe in your employees, and they’ll help do the heavy lifting of establishing a brand.

Why PR Should be a Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy

January 21, 2015

Everyone today is so focused on Content Marketing that they may overlook an old standby, PR, that could help in getting that all-important content out there. Content marketing drives long-term thought leadership goals. PR can help you short-term to meeting these objectives. After all, both disciplines are working toward the same goals.

Here are a few reasons to use PR in conjunction with your content marketing program:

  • PR builds corporate credibility  Foster good relationships with key editors in your field and let them tell your story.
  • PR increases brand awareness – Use your new content to attract focused audiences and new leads.
  • PR makes your content team focus on your public – Instead of selling features and benefits, use fresh insights and angles on how others have solved similar problems. Be relevant and timely on issues.

If you like this post you might like:

8 Tips for Media Interviews

The Scary Side of PR


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