What does content development look like for optics companies?

March 27, 2017
Thought leadership is an important marketing strategy for building your brand and increasing lead generation in photonics.
Michele Gleber 720

As the precision optics market matures, companies are under pressure to specialize or become commoditized. Thought leadership is an important marketing strategy for building your brand and increasing lead generation in your area of expertise.

The jargon can be confusing. You’ve read about:
Inbound marketing – drawing customers to products and services through content marketing, social media marketing, and search engine optimization
Content marketing – creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience and ultimately drive profitable customer action
Marketing automation – software platforms and technologies designed to support more effective marketing on multiple online channels (email, social media, websites, etc.) by automating repetitive tasks.

Quality educational content is critical to all three of these activities, yet producing content and measuring its effectiveness remain some of the biggest marketing challenges for manufacturers.

Why is content creation important?
Content often establishes a buyer’s first impression of your company. Engineers and other technical professionals prefer to research your company online before they reach out to a salesperson. The latest research indicates that the research process is 71% complete before Sales is contacted. Prospects are forming an opinion based on whatever content is available, whether that’s your website, your blog, white papers, videos, or news releases. If your content is not understandable and useful, they will move on to their next Google search.

Content marketing can also help nurture prospective customers as they make their way through your sales funnel. Particularly in industries like optics where purchase cycles are longer, staying top of mind with prospects is vital. Automated email nurture programs can keep prospects engaged until they are ready to buy.

What type of content is most valuable?
Relevant, high-value content can increase brand awareness and generate qualified leads for your company. For example, an R&D engineer might read your blog post on choosing the right optical components for their design, and then download a white paper that explores the topic in greater detail.

A few types of content that can improve awareness and lead generation for optics companies are:
Articles in trade magazines – Trade publications are a highly trusted and credible source of information for customers. Articles or white papers submitted to magazines like Laser Focus World can generate leads and drive traffic to your website. Review websites and publications thoroughly to make sure your content meets their audience’s needs, interest, and knowledge level. Want more tips? Download Launch Team’s Guide to Writing Technical White Papers.
Webinars – Live video presentations, such as Laser Focus World’s free webinars, are a great lead generation tool, as they attract viewers who already have some level of interest in the solutions you provide.
How-to videos – YouTube is now the second most-used search engine for engineers.
Long-form blog posts – Technical content doesn’t have to be reserved exclusively for trade magazines. Detailed posts on your blog can educate visitors and prompt them to interact further with your company. These posts are used to drive organic (search engine) traffic.
Data and research findings – Engineers and scientists are likely to use facts to drive purchase decisions. Include up-to-date infographics or graphs on your blog or web pages to prove value.

Repurposing content
Start with audit and brainstorm. What content do you have, and is it still relevant? Can it be updated and turned into something else? For example:
• An old case study can be made useful again with a more recent set of data.
• A resource guide could be repurposed as an eBook.
• Beta testing data could be used to create instructional YouTube videos.

Your content brainstorm should focus on upcoming innovation as well as business goals. A product launch or new technology can provide excellent fodder for a variety of content types.

Getting optical engineers to write
Finding optical engineers who enjoy writing is tricky. Your technical staff is an essential resource for content, but because of busy schedules or differing writing styles, they might not be the right people to develop that content. To get the most from your experts, we recommend starting with an in-person interview or phone call to gather key information.

Your marketing or content manager conducts the interview, drafts the piece, and then hands it to the technical expert to review for accuracy. This saves time and ensures that the content matches your goals and the interests of your target audience.

Another tactic is to go back to your content audit. If your staff scientist has already written a paper for a trade journal, you can work with them to turn it into a white paper or tip sheet.

If your team doesn’t include a dedicated marketing person who can interview and write content, you might consider outsourcing.

While you could hire a freelancer, it is best to find a company with knowledge and experience in your particular industry. An experienced outsourced marketing partner can get up to speed on your business and start producing high quality content quickly, and can keep marketing strategy and tactics in sync.

Keeping your content plan on track
A consistent content development strategy is key to attracting, engaging, and nurturing prospects. A few ways to stay on task include:
• Create a blog planner with abstracts tied to specific customer personas and target keywords.
• Revise and repurpose technical papers as blog posts, videos, eBooks, etc.
• Don’t miss opportunities to tell a story. STTR, SBIR, and other awards make for great press releases that emphasize your emerging capabilities.

About the Author

Michele Nichols | President, Launch Team Inc.

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