Sure, SEO is old hat (and it’s all very white-hat now) and digital marketing these days is focused on mobile adaptation, social media and maybe even the impending Internet of things.* But there are some of us who still love creating informative content that challenges our creativity and imagination I still point out to people, once in a long time, that I once wrote a page about tweezers (just checked that page to see if it’s still alive. It is… sort of.) It’s still possible to write web content with substance that goes beyond 140 characters and how many likes you get on your latest status update or how many Pins you can get. You can do that if you are an expert in your area, and Google will love you. And you can do that if you are willing to write about things that no one else is willing to write about, writing straight-talking web content with substance and value, in a big money business sphere. That sphere is industry.
Industrial products are as boring and dull as it comes. Not many budding writers dream of writing about lathes… or collets… or tool presetters. No one wants to write about crossover tool boxes or total stations. What even are these things? Well, for one thing, they’re just a few of thousands upon thousands of industrial tools, parts, and equipment that people are looking for online and that –often – have very large profit margins. For the record, a tool presetter is important in the tool and die industry and can fetch anywhere from $3K to $4500 depending on the specifications. A collet is a holding device for a lathes, and costs in the range of $25 but these regularly break down and need to be stocked. Total stations are construction and grading lasers that reduce workload of a regular construction laser and also cost in the range of several thousand dollars. These are just a few of the big ticket items that are bought and sold online. And very few of these products is well-competed for in terms of SEO and digital marketing, as opposed to, say, phones or other tech gear or <insert your red ocean product>.**
This is still some pretty low hanging fruit that doesn’t require a big team of link builders, exceptional creativity or guerilla tactics. For those in the SEO content marketing industry, the creative block you have to overcome is actually creating a page full of content.
Leaders like Neil Patel and Moz on SEO for industrial companies and such
Some great articles closely related to this idea have been written lately; these are worth revisiting.
Neil Patel wrote some ideas about this in 2013 in a post called “How to Use Content Marketing For a ‘Boring’ Industry.” His first point, like mine, is that “you don’t see too many people in those [boring] spaces using content marketing.” Some of his advice includes fairly standard stuff, such as guest blogging, infographics and the importance of relevance over volume in links, but he makes one really great point worth repeating: solve your customers’ problems. In any industry, your customers have a bevy of day-to-day problems and they ought to always be willing to listen to advice. Know what they are and tell them some solutions. At the very least you will establish fellow-feeling and understanding of your clients and they will remember it: solve the problems of the actual purchaser.
A second excellent post comes from the geniuses over at moz.com. Ronell Smith does a superb job throughout this article (and in the comment replies) of dealing with the issues. Again, a subtext of the article and comments is that there are very few examples of boring-industry content done really well. It’s a challenge few people rise to. His argument is summarised as saying: set goals, be clear and work on amplification.
This last point means getting people to market for you: reimagine who you are writing for. It’s the title of the post: create content that important influencers will share. It’s important to think of a variety of important influencers, including everything from influential experts in the industry to newspapers and magazines looking for a soundbite or filler.
And another obstacle you might face is apathy from people who (really!) still think that the web is “not really the way we work” or something like that.
So what? Anticipate that and other objections, as follows when approaching clients.
Get to Know Your Industry… and Know Industry
Go to trade shows and pass out your card. Introduce yourself as an expert in your industry just as they are experts in their industry.
Contact the sites directly. Let them know that there is still time for them to get ahead of their competition.
Finally, a word of advice: If you get clients, be aware that people in industries like construction and industry and trades live in world where results are seen. These are people who want to see progress. When a building is going up you can see it progressing from the foundation upward, even if it’s behind schedule. You can’t always see immediate results in website development or online marketing. It’s a different world from the one they are working in.
You can rephrase this argument yourself when you deal with clients but you need to be aware of this and you need to know how to deal with people in industry. You also need to remember that they are often used to pushing things aggressively and live in a world where aggression and foul language are part and parcel of how to get things done and even how to conduct business. I’ve heard an electrician client openly threat his current developer. That’s a little extreme, of course, but just be aware that you may have to thicken your skin.
*Apparently KW is set to dominate the IoT.
**For the uninitiated, Blue Ocean Strategy was a best seller a few years ago that explained blue oceans as “competitor-free markets that innovative companies can navigate,” as red oceans, competition-saturated markets where the water is red with the blood of those who could not compete.