One of the things I love about Indiana is the amount of completely different and interesting niche industries that call our state home. As marketing and sales have shifted towards the web, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with some really fascinating businesses. A few examples I’ve run across in the last few years include:
- Industrial Nut Feeders
- Dry Ice Blasting
- Machining Solutions (basically machines that make machines, seriously!)
- Industrial Epoxy Flooring
- Automotive & Industrial Paint
and my absolute favorite…
- Mobile Interim Lab Solutions for Hospitals
The number one question we get when discussing how to position these businesses online is:
How do we make this look sexy?
Content is super niche, in many cases the process is not revolutionary yet these businesses are growing and evolving. How can we evolve their web presence to match the equity of the brand within their industry?
To break it down, I’m going to use a single case study to highlight a recipe we’ve found success with: Modular Devices. This mobile interim lab solutions provider has done an amazing job embracing the web to attract leads for hospitals needing mobile and modular Cath & CT labs. Doesn’t quite sound sexy but let’s peel back the layers, shall we?
Helping is the New Selling
You’ve heard this one before, but it starts with marketing content. If your service is complicated, the process absolutely MUST be broken down on your website to educate users. Help users understand their true needs instead of requiring a dozen phone calls to figure out what they need. An example can be found below on one of the category pages: a simple infographic to help users know whether a mobile or modular solution is needed.
Find Visual Content Opportunities
Photos & video go a long way to help break down the barriers of understanding “how it works” or “what does it look like” for niche service based businesses. This can come in a few forms, photos out on the job such as this Facebook photo gallery of a recently installed lab in North Carolina or a more direct marketing video to reinforce the WIIFM (what’s in it for me such as this one below that can be found on their Mobile Cath Labs page:
Focus on Building Community
This is the most difficult and time consuming task of them all: building your social & email communities. Mixing up the variety and style of content shared on these platforms is a great way to attract and retain users. Examples include sharing educational blog posts, photos and big upping (what I call giving a shout out) to partners publicly. The mix will change for every company, but consistency will not. The only way to effectively grow these communities is to remain consistent with publishing on a monthly and yearly basis. Facebook also offers some fantastic paid tools for community growth, just make sure to target your audience properly!
This is a pretty common concept for brands, but thought leadership should really be personal as well. Your audience wants to interact with you, not just your brand’s twitter handle. Google is pushing this with author rank in order to help active content marketers build their personal brands (see the photo below). Update your blog to show the author’s photo when a blog is found on Google and use Tweetdeck to manage personal and brand accounts at the same time. Thought leadership is a long term play that requires consistency and dedication, but it will ensure that your brand has more than one presence online to be found when searching.
Spotlight on Culture
My favorite content marketing concept: culture-powered marketing! What is it that makes getting up and going to work fun or fulfilling every day? Find a way to highlight this and you’ll find the secret sauce for content marketing.
For Modular Devices, this includes some of the charity work they do around the world and also how their employees travel throughout their gigantic garage: custom bikes! They’ve found a way to show what makes them unique beyond their approach to customers, which is what truly stands the test of time and builds a lasting business.
This is really just the beginning of a flood of B2B businesses in niche industries embracing the web. It will be exciting to see how marketing evolves, but in the meantime… What have you found success with?