We are so excited about this month’s Valuable Content Award winner – a true leader in valuable content creation at scale across a B2B firm. Indium Corporation develops and manufactures materials used in the electronics assembly industry. This is business-to-business at its most technical – some might say ‘dry’ or ‘boring’, certainly not sexy. Yet Indium’s team of engineer bloggers manages to create immensely valuable content that draws in interest, builds relationships and absolutely drives sales results.
In our Award Winner’s interview, Indium’s inspirational Director of Marketing Communications Rick Short gives a fascinating insight into their philosophy and approach to content, and sales.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So EVERY product is sexy, to the right person.”
Q: Tell us about your approach to content
A: “In the digital arena it is extremely easy to measure, monitor, and interrelate thousands of automated metrics. Consequently, it is easy to get overwhelmed by, then distracted by, “shiny objects” and take your eye off the ball. While I do pay attention to numerous factors, I keep my eye on the ball by maintaining a laser focus on my one core process:
This mantra points to what I, as a Marcom leader, am here to accomplish and deliver. What it means is that my segment of the entire business process involves purveying my company’s rich and meaningful technical CONTENT in exchange for opt-in, self-qualified, highly-qualified sales leads (CONTACT) that can be pursued by our sales team and converted into sales (CASH).”
“CONTENT plays a critical role, and is centre stage, at the Indium Corporation.”
What type of content do you share?
“Our customers are engineers. Our technical staff are engineers. Engineers like other engineers: they understand them, they trust them. Heck, they were surrounded by hundreds of engineers for years while in university. They’ve been with each other all their lives. They seek each other out because they’re comfortable with each other. They speak the same language, making their transactions highly efficient and effective.
The Indium Corporation developed our practice of “From One Engineer To Another®” when I realized that we needed to turn our company inside out. We needed to eliminate the “corporate spokesperson” role (me) and facilitate our customers speaking directly with our engineering staff – no middle man, no noise.
Consequently, the CONTENT that we share is absolutely THE information an engineer requires to optimize their process, to address their opportunity, to solve their problem, and to make their breakthrough. It is experimentally-derived data, it is optimized process recommendations from the engineer who did the actual work in the field, it is the performance characteristics of a new assembly material by the engineer that developed the product. It includes information-rich technical papers from the people who authored them and it is face-to-face presentations by technology professionals who got their hands dirty creating the concepts and testing them personally.
Most often, the engineers are Indium Corporation engineers. But we freely collaborate, co-present, and co-author works with people from outside our company. As the nexus of thought leaders in our industry, it becomes easy to attract top talent from throughout the world to work together with our team to support our customers’ challenges. This produces world-class CONTENT that is highly sought after by our target audience.”
What results has content brought for your business?
“The only truly meaningful result of our process is to measure how valuable we are to our target audience. Keeping my eye on the ball, I measure that by evaluating the CONTENT we put forth, affirming that it is important to our customers. I do this by measuring their affinity to exchange their CONTACT information for the CONTENT – this is also referred to as lead generation. And, of course, we measure how these leads convert to sales, CASH.”
Can you give an example of some content that has worked really well?
“No matter how you deliver it, it has to be powerfully useful.”
“It isn’t so much about a format (like tech papers, or formal presentations, etc.) as much as it centres on usefulness. In other words, no matter how you deliver it, it has to be powerfully useful. This uncovers the trap into which that many people fall. They are looking for tips on how to tweet, or blog, or load PDFs onto a website in some novel way. All of that stuff is just the toolset. Customers will reward vendors only when the vendor provides clear, overwhelming value. So, in our case, we go right back to our mantra: CONTENT►CONTACT►CASH.
The CONTENT that has worked really well is concise, clear, well-proven information on how to enhance, optimize, and improve our customers’ manufacturing effectiveness and efficiencies (also known as profitability). This is NOT an easy thing to achieve. It is not the answer that your readers want to read. Many people want to be told how to use Facebook to attract tons of likes and shares. That activity will keep a person busy, but it may not lead to business growth and customer loyalty. The brutally tough answer is to differentiate your company from the competition by knowing more about your customers’ pain, needs, opportunities, processes, and challenges than anyone else … then, by doing something with that knowledge, something that puts enhanced security and profits on your customers’ tables. Then, let your engineers speak to their engineers, earning respect and appreciation by delivering meaningful achievements.”
What are your main content challenges?
“In an industrial B2B arena, it seems that, for many companies, the toughest CONTENT challenge lies in the fact that companies’ own staff bemoan that their products are “boring”.
How can a customer revel in a company’s incredibly-meaningful, game-changing CONTENT when the company’s own staff aren’t that enthusiastic or committed to it? The Indium Corporation enjoys a very enthusiastic and dedicated team of maniacs who truly love their careers, their fields of study, their technologies, and their colleagues. This joie de vivre for semiconductor assembly materials, for nanotech materials and assembly processes, for thermal interface materials, for electronics assembly materials is the answer to the content challenge.
“The only way to achieve this level of performance is to HIRE people who are consumed with the topics that matter to your customers.”
Any tips for other B2B companies?
Sadly, I can’t tell your readers how to create it. My experience reveals that, the only way to achieve this level of performance, is to HIRE people who are consumed with the topics that matter to your customers. Then, you put these people together and let them rock. The hardest part for management is to get out of the way. This is why “From One Engineer To Another®” is hard for many companies to put into actual use. The leaders mess it up.
I was once told that every job on Earth is merely a matter of problem solving of one sort or another. To me, that makes perfect sense. So, rather than stuff square pegs into round holes all day – hoping for bliss, set out to hire people who love solving the problems that your customer’s experience. Then, get out of their way; let them shine.
Don’t attempt to engineer or construct it. Keep it organic, keep it genetic. Build your staff with people who CAN’T STOP solving your customers’ challenges. Hire maniacs, then turn your company inside out and let your team amaze your customers and truly intimidate your competition.”
Great advice. Congratulations Rick and Indium. A well-deserved Valuable Content Award is on its way to you. We hope it helps to reward you for all that hard work.