Industrial Public Relations and Manufacturing Marketing for Lead Gen

Ed Marsh | Mar 11, 2022

Tl;dr - Middle-market industrial manufacturers generally eschew investments in traditional public relations. That's often reasonable. However, there are situations where it can be tactically appropriate, and creative approaches to PR can yield significant notable distribution and promotion benefits to address a common shortcoming of manufacturing content marketing. 

Don't Underestimate the Work of Marketing Content Distribution

That little voice in your head, or that consultant, or that digital marketing agency, or that new marketing expert you've hired - they all might be whispering that if you just build it...your content marketing assets...that your buyers will come.

It worked for Kevin Costner, and it kind of worked for early internet movers circa 2000. It's not going to work for you.

Today, SEO and industrial inbound marketing require a keen understanding of buyers, deliberate strategy, relentless execution, and large volumes of content. It also requires vigorous content distribution efforts to support manufacturing lead generation

Relatively few incorporate all of the above-listed tactical elements in the content effort. Their results normally reflect a diminished return despite the resources invested.

Content Distribution to Attract Potential Clients and Generate Industrial Leads

generating high quality leads for manufacturing companies takes a wide variety of lead generation efforts. Marketing strategy need to look beyond the immediate target audience and website visitors to find new leads by creating content and using PR to help distribute it Fewer still work to distribute and promote content fully. Therefore, while SEO and content will attract some visitors, there's simply so much content, and therefore noise, that just publishing it isn't enough. So marketers miss out on large swathes of the market who would like to know about them if they stumbled across them somewhere else.

Content distribution and promotion are critical to digital success and don't get the attention they merit. They are critical to manufacturing lead generation.

While this post will focus on the public relations play for distribution, keep in mind the power of coordinated social media promotion by your team members (e.g. automatic sharing on LinkedIn when you publish certain kinds of content.)

The Role of Public Relations in Manufacturing Marketing for Lead Gen

PR, as it's traditionally practiced, is a long-term awareness play. Experienced marketers will quibble with the analogy, but for most middle-market industrial manufacturers you can think of traditional PR as a form of brand marketing. Important and desirable if you have the resources, but not a priority in terms of manufacturing marketing for lead generation and revenue realization.

Traditional PR

manufacturing marketing teams can use PR and content as part of their marketing efforts to increase lead generation and provide potential leads to the manufacturing sales team.Traditionally PR folks will look for angles on the company's business and build a "pitch" around it - a story which they hope will pique the interest of journalists who cover that "beat." The goal is to prompt the journalist to interview a company executive in support of a story they're working.

Essentially it's cold-calling journalists, hoping to catch one's interest and schedule a meeting. Over time, they hope those meetings will evolve into relationships as valued sources who are routinely sought for input on various events and stories. The expectation is that consistent media appearances will indirectly drive brand awareness and credibility, and perhaps even can generate leads in the manufacturing industry.

It's very labor-intensive. PR shops are often staffed with legions of young staffers who pay their dues much like BDRs who aspire to become ARs.

lead generation in the manufacturing industry requires industrial lead generation that reaches potential customers with the kind of authoritative information that a manufacturing company will respond to in order to generate leadsThat doesn't mean there isn't a place for it, even for lower middle-market manufacturers who use it as a tactic to approach a market tangentially. For instance, sustainability is a topic that increasingly touches companies in the manufacturing space. It's an opportunity for attention and differentiation for manufacturers with a legitimate angle on sustainability and it could well make sense to pursue this traditional PR path in that case.

Because of the sheer volume of work and media expertise involved, it is probably best outsourced to small agencies or freelancers. On a cost/lead basis it may not be your top performing lead generation lead source, but for a typical manufacturing business, it can be an effective industrial lead generation approach

PR Lite

There are a couple of PR-lite approaches that may also be appropriate. Internal marketing folks can easily monitor HARO1 on a consistent basis, responding to requests for SMEs as appropriate.

They can also monitor industry event "calls for speaker" submissions. Public speaking opportunities can establish manufacturing company executives as industry thought leaders among industry professionals and media covering the events, and are often lead generation events.

Brandscaping & Newsjacking

manufacturing companies can often generate high quality leads using search engines, online lead generation, digital marketing and other lead generation tactics. PR helps put their content in front of new customers and existing clientsAndrew Davis' book Brandscaping2 provides a great template for content creation that leverages related audiences and interests. Davis' premise is that you'll create more impactful content through collaboration with niche experts. Not only is the content often more enjoyable, but it's also an opportunity to engage broader audiences that entertaining independents have cultivated.

Companies may hesitate to build their entire content strategy around this approach, but it's easy to dabble by accepting and placing guest posts, hosting and appearing on podcasts and webinars, and creating specific pieces of collaborative content. Done well these all enable you to introduce yourself and your content to new audiences and can drive some lead generation for manufacturing companies.

David Meerman Scott coined the term Newsjacking which refers to building content immediately and tactically around trending news events. The goal is to ride a wave of attention and perhaps even capture the attention of journalists looking for different angles on saturated stories.

PR for Content Distribution in Manufacturing Content Marketing

Here we get to the heart of this post - the role PR can play in direct content distribution and promotion. While the techniques above rely on coopting someone else's audience, this tactic is self-sustaining (although it absolutely might help toward more traditional PR goals and generating manufacturing leads too.)

public events like manufacturing day can creaete press opportunities to attract new leads for your manufacturing without relying on paid ads or traditional marketing channels. A manufacturing business should have several different blogs (more here) including a "News" blog. This is important because it provides a location to have very carefully optimized articles that discuss important company news (events, key personnel, publications, awards, important customer wins, etc.) to earn the SEO value related to those articles, BUT to do so in a way that doesn't abuse the time and attention of subscribers to your primary blog(s.)

In other words, if you have a primary blog that explores trends, challenges, and innovation related to your industry, you'll build a subscriber list of folks who are interested in those consistently published insights. If you start to interrupt your stream of helpful information with self-serving announcements, you'll quickly lose credibility and subscribers. What a shame!

The Role of a News Blog in Manufacturing Lead Generation

A news blog provides the perfect spot to publish that information appropriately - for the right reasons, and without this impact on your subscribers.

But you'll take it a step further. A couple of days after publishing articles on your news blog, you'll also drop them on the wire to amplify the reach of that content. This is particularly helpful for new product offerings and significant content publications - e.g. lead-generation offers. Not only will you accrue inbound links to your landing pages, but you'll also reach new audiences via sites which syndicate the press releases.  

Opportunity Hides in Complexity

Too often we miss revenue growth and lead generation opportunities because effective execution requires a detailed understanding of the nuance, mechanics and detail which is considered too complex for a world with short attention spans.

We're told that the sales team is too busy; marketing has to focus on key priorities; pick a couple tactics only.

I disagree. In fact, that's often a smokescreen for mediocrity.

Instead, a deep understanding of buyers, tools and tactics opens up large opportunities which can be outsourced and/or efficiently incorporated into current practice for impressive and differentiated results.

These PR tactics are an example. Publishing press releases on your News Blog, and later on the wire (using a service like PRWeb) helps you reach audiences, increase traffic, and promote and distribute content. That in turn supports lead generation for manufacturers and can drive significant numbers of quality leads and qualified leads.

Some Additional Thoughts on Lead Generation and Manufacturing Marketing

Leveraging Existing Clients and Digital Strategies for More Manufacturing Leads

In the ever-evolving landscape of industrial marketing and lead generation for manufacturers, the challenge of creating more leads is increasingly difficult. While the traditional methods of public relations (PR) and content distribution play crucial roles, some additional strategies and tactics can integrate into your marketing and sales process, ultimately generating more quality leads for your manufacturing business.

Leveraging Existing Customers for More Leads

While most manufacturers sell the majority of products to existing customers, an overlooked source for generating leads is your existing customer base. Satisfied clients are not just buyers of your products; they can be valuable resources for new leads and referrals. You've certainly heard the age-old adage that it's easier to sell to existing customers than to acquire new ones.

Start by implementing a systematic approach to leveraging your existing clients for lead generation. Encourage referrals by offering incentives or rewards for clients who refer potential customers to your business. Happy customers are often more than willing to spread the word about your products and services, and their recommendations carry weight in the manufacturing industry. Harvest the referrals as testimonials for your website and case studies as well.

Additionally, maintain an open line of communication with your existing customers. Regularly check in to see if they have any colleagues or industry contacts who might benefit from your offerings. It's surprising how often valuable leads can be generated simply by nurturing relationships with those who already know and trust your brand. Set LinkedIn and google alerts to notify you when existing customer contacts move to new companies.

Digital Strategies: The Heart of Lead Generation for Manufacturers

In today's digital age, your online presence is vital to your lead generation strategy. With most potential customers conducting research online before making purchasing decisions, your ability to capture their attention and engage them effectively is paramount.

Enhancing Your Online Presence through Social Media

Social media platforms have become essential tools for connecting with potential customers and generating leads in the manufacturing industry. Establish a strong presence on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and even industry-specific platforms. Share informative content, engage with your audience, and showcase your expertise in the field.

Consider automating your social media sharing to ensure a consistent and strategic approach. When you publish certain kinds of content, set up automatic sharing on platforms like LinkedIn. This not only saves time but also ensures that your content reaches a broader audience, increasing your chances of generating valuable leads.

Industry Events and Publications

Participating in industry events and getting featured in manufacturing industry magazines can significantly boost your lead generation efforts. Industry events offer a unique opportunity to network with potential customers and establish your business as an industry leader. Be proactive in seeking speaking opportunities at these events, as they can lead to valuable connections and, ultimately, leads.

Moreover, getting your company's articles and insights published in respected industry publications can position you as a thought leader. When potential customers read your content in these publications, they are more likely to view your business as a valuable resource. This increased visibility can generate quality leads from individuals seeking solutions in your industry.

Optimizing Landing Pages and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Your website plays a pivotal role in lead generation for manufacturers. To maximize its effectiveness, focus on creating landing pages that are specifically designed to convert traffic to leads. These pages should offer valuable resources, such as ebooks, whitepapers, or webinars, in exchange for contact information. By providing something of value, you can generate more leads while nurturing potential customers. Experiment with chatbots instead of forms, and consider carefully which content should be gated vs. freely offered.

In addition to creating compelling landing pages, invest in search engine optimization (SEO). Optimize your website content to rank higher in search engine results for industry-relevant keywords. When potential customers search for solutions in your field, they are more likely to discover your website, leading to increased lead generation.

Navigating the Sales Funnel with Precision

As you implement these strategies and tactics, it's important to recognize that lead generation is just one part of the overall marketing and sales process. Your goal is not just to generate leads but to guide them through the sales funnel and convert them into paying customers.

Implement a lead scoring system to prioritize leads based on their potential value to your business. Focus your efforts on leads that are more likely to convert into customers, ensuring that your sales team's time and resources are utilized effectively.

Lead generation for manufacturers requires a multifaceted approach that incorporates traditional PR into modern digital tactics. Leveraging existing customers, enhancing your online presence, and optimizing your website are all critical components of a successful lead generation strategy. By navigating the sales funnel with precision and focusing on generating quality leads, you can drive significant growth and revenue realization for your manufacturing business.

1 - Cision's Help a Reporter Out

2 - Brandscaping