Top-of-the-funnel content — it’s how you’ll attract the largest audience and the greatest number of potential leads. ToFu, as it’s often called, is the widest part of the sales and marketing funnel, and where you make that vital first impression with the majority of your leads.
The goal of ToFu content marketing for industrial companies is simple: Educate and inform without sounding like a sales pitch. Most prospects at this stage know they have a challenge in front of them, but don’t know all the potential solutions yet.
Unlike bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu) content that targets those who’ve thoroughly vetted their choices and are close to making a purchase decision, ToFu content helps build brand awareness and position your company as an authority.
Brief, simple, introductory content (e.g., blogs, tip sheets, video, infographics) is the key to helping prospects learn more and find the answers to their questions. This type of industrial content marketing can eventually help them see your company as a solution and inquire about specific products and prices.
When beginning their buyer’s journeys, prospects are looking for answers to these 6 questions – and it’s up to manufacturing marketers to answer them with their top-of-the-funnel content.
1. “How will your products or services help my company?”
Prospects need help solving a problem, and the first thing they want to know is how your product or service will help.
Consider the two following blog titles and how each addresses the same topic, but from different angles:
- “How Custom-Blended Fluids Reduce Machine Downtime & Maintenance”
- “10 Ways Custom-Blended Fluids Improve Plant Operations”
Both focus on benefits. One communicates the direct impact of a particular product on a specific problem, whereas the other shows how it helps in a broader sense. There are plenty of other ways you can explain a product’s benefits, it just requires a little creativity.
Blogging Tip: Starting with a general “10 Benefits of XYZ” article can be fuel for future content. Each of the 10 benefits could potentially be expanded upon to become its own article.
2. “How much money can your products save me?”
A simpler way to state this question is, “How much do your products cost?” While it’s important to share how your products increase productivity, reduce wear, or improve workflows, what your potential customer ultimately wants to know is the price and, just as importantly, the return on investment (ROI).
Let’s say one of your products helped a customer lower their equipment maintenance expenses by 15%. A mini case study in the form of a blog article titled, “How Labyrinth Seals Reduced One Company’s Maintenance Expenses by 15%” is the perfect ToFu content piece to pique a prospect’s interest and want to learn more.
Many organizations are hesitant to post price lists due to the complexities and nuances of each order. A helpful way to talk about price without quoting a dollar amount is to discuss cost comparisons or how prices are determined. For example, a blog titled “5 Factors That Impact Custom Pump Assembly Prices” can talk about engineering, materials, labor, and other elements without getting too specific.
Blog articles focused on value rather than price are another way to approach the subject. Or, what about an article that talks about the cost of not using your solution?
3. “How do your products compare to alternative solutions?”
Prospects who look for answers to their problems will likely come across several potential solutions during their research. Blog articles comparing “Option A vs. Option B” are popular because they help prospects know where to focus their attention. In fact, we’ve found that comparison articles or videos are often the highest-performing types of content.
If you can create content and convince your target audience that the products you offer are the best overall solution to their problems and will outperform the competition, they will be more likely to choose you over an alternative. Another approach is comparing your own products with each other, outlining their features and which applications they’re best suited for.
4. “How do your products work?”
As humans, it’s in our nature to want to know why or how something works the way it does. It’s the reason we took apart our toys as kids, and it’s the same reason we love watching product demonstration and explanation videos today. Content marketing for manufacturers needs to address a prospect’s curiosity.
The more buyers can understand the nuances of your product, the more they can appreciate it and visualize it in their own applications. Video is hands-down the best way to show and tell. Video content is now an expectation of buyers, and nearly nine out of 10 businesses use video content as a marketing tool.
Bottom line: if you’re not using video, you’re one step behind the competition.
RELATED: B2B Video Marketing Statistics You Need to Know
5. “How can your products help us become compliant with XYZ regulation?”
Do you sell products in a heavily regulated industry? Some examples include the defense industry, healthcare, construction, or food production. If so, there’s a good chance your prospects are looking for products that are compliant with specific industry standards.
If this is the case for your manufacturing company, try writing blog articles and whitepapers like:
- “How to Meet EPA Standards with Environmentally Friendly Lubricants”
- “Ensuring NAVSEA Compliance for Metal Fabrication”
- “How a Strong Safety Program and OSHA Compliance Impacts a Project’s Success”
- “How a Strict Chain of Custody Improves Food Safety”
For highly regulated industries, knowing your company can help them remain in compliance can keep you on the short list of qualified vendors.
6. “Why should I buy from you?”
Your prospect will likely have several companies vying for their purchase order. Your content, combined with the messaging communicated through your sales team, can work together to convince prospects to work with you.
Addressing the following in your content can help narrow the field even further:
- Are you faster or less expensive than the alternatives?
- Do you offer a better selection?
- Do you have better customer service/warranties?
- Do you have a reliable supply chain?
- Are your products or services higher quality?
Sometimes prospects already know what products they need; they just need the best possible company to buy them from. Consider a facility tour or “About Us” video, or blog articles like “8 Things to Look for When Choosing an Ingredient Partner.” These are great for articulating the reasons your company is the best choice, while explaining what sets you apart from the competition.
An important part of a content marketing strategy that’s sometimes overlooked is the role of social media and email campaigns. Sharing all this great content through various channels is one more way to build brand awareness and delight your current and prospective customers during the buying process.
Need help creating a comprehensive content marketing plan that covers ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu content? Download our free B2B Business Builder’s Guide to Blogging below.