Having signed as a guest columnist with a leading lifting industry trade journal, Tad Dunville, regional sales manager at Pintsch Bubenzer USA LLC, explains why content marketing is key to engaging target audiences.
Pick up a good trade magazine; it’ll contain editorial content and advertisements. It might also include advertorials (never my favorite read), classified space, supplements, and more. All this content is packaged up periodically for its target audience. The key to retaining and growing a readership is quality, educational, current articles and stories. The other materials have a role to play but it’s the pages containing news items, interviews, features, and case studies that readers tend to spend the most time digesting.
A good marketing strategy should be equally multifaceted and have, at its core, content. If a company’s outreach is limited to self-serving tweets, advertisements, and catalogs, it feels like a magazine without editorial. Who would read it? Magazines are good at tailoring information for their readers too, which is another lesson we can learn from such media. An editor asks him or herself before every issue: what problems does my readership have? How can I commission or write articles that help? How can my title become part of their toolkit? I try to think the same way as the lead content marketer at my company.
Many businesses would rather hand out glossy brochures full of terms like “class leading”, “most innovative”, and “the best”. If those claims can’t be measured, it’s about as effective as a used car dealer in a bad plaid jacket, and I see it all the time. Other firms don’t understand what people are really looking for. Consider Michael Porter’s competitive strategies. As we speak, I’m watching a garbage truck empty a dumpster. Do I care how nice the dumpster is? Do I care about the price? All I really care about is making sure the dumpster is emptied every week at the same time before it starts to stink, overflow, house rats, and cause disease. At Pintsch Bubenzer, we have a competitive price, but we don’t lead with price, because the majority of our customers need a high-performance brake.
Some companies’ marketing teams have a “we have to go digital” mentality and spend obscene amounts of money without understanding why. I know of two crane companies that acquired a Twitter and Facebook tool that auto-posts crane-related news items. That doesn’t seem too daft until one realizes most of the posts are about mobile cranes, while the company in question builds electric overhead traveling (EOT) cranes. There’s very little similarity. It would be like a mobile trailer home company talking about building mansions. The editor of a construction crane title wouldn’t write about an overhead crane and vice versa; their readers wouldn’t be interested.
Near the top of my agenda when I started my new role was to contribute to the company’s marketing endeavors through content that educates its audiences. Call it content marketing if you want. I had prior experience that showed this avenue was productive and effective. When I receive feedback, whether in person or via email, I regard blogging, for example, as effective because it shows people are reading and thinking about one’s content enough to react. That’s what sells advertising at NBC, and that’s what drives my writing.
We have a great product. The proof is in the sales: in our core marketplace, port cranes, we have over 50% of brake sales and we’re sole-specified in the majority of private-procurement specifications. The key now is to communicate that highly effective product-service to those in other markets, like EOT cranes, wind energy, and motor-gearbox manufacturers. Educational content is a great way to sell a product without actually selling it. Customers are looking for a vendor with a competent, innovative, and reliable product-service bundle. Educating readers shows that your team has depth, experience, and thus has delivered on promises repeatedly. It also allows potential customers to essentially pick your brain without fear of being sold to, until they are ready for the sale.
I’d urge new bloggers, or those looking to improve interaction, to steer away from content that is too technical. I originally thought readers would want strictly technical material, like case studies, but I come to find out some of our best reader engagement came from articles and blogs about business strategy because it demonstrates critical thought about the mission of the business and dedication to that cause. People found security in discovering that potential vendor had a focus and direction rather than a “we’ll sell you anything you need at any time” attitude, because it indicates long-term support for the product that they are buying, likely for a lot of money.
Remember, unless one’s sales target is a large dopey retriever, it’s not likely that they’ll respond well to sunshine and rainbows being blown up their hind end. Buyers are skeptical, and for good reason. Picture the sale of a car—would you rather be pitched hard about how “this is the best car ever” or would you rather have a salesman that educates you on why the brand has been the leader in terms of sales for X years because the body doesn’t develop rust as quickly and the engines wait longer for rebuilds? To take the analogy even further, would you rather have the salesman explain that a brand like Porsche wins more endurance races than any other brand?
(Hint: Porsche puts the best brakes on their cars for a reason… just saying, winners buy good brakes).
End user marketplaces need more guidance from the sector’s specialist suppliers. Many times we have a supply chain management firm, purchasing office, or general contractor separating our company from the ultimate user. It’s a necessary step in the food chain that will never go away, so it’s our job to educate the end users that they should specify certain sub components on a crane or wind turbine. To a general contractor, an emergency brake on a crane might sound ridiculous at $50,000+, but to the owner, it’s an easy way to prevent dropping a hazardous or costly load that could cost millions. We have the same issue with yaw brakes for wind turbines. Ours are the quietest, which increases operating times for owners significantly. That’s a big deal, but we can’t sit in our offices pretending to be offended if the OEM buys a cheaper brake because nobody knows about the advantage.
Writing for LHI
I want to close with a note of thanks to Lift & Hoist International (LHI) magazine for signing me as a columnist for the coming year. LHI is clearly the industry magazine that’s really going places these days. They have a robust online and paper presence and the writers and publishers really get the industry and readers. Trade magazines can be tossed quickly because the content is so sales-biased, the potential reader never actually learns anything. LHI’s content is different, and I hope to contribute to their reputation by educating and engaging their readers.
As a guy that travels a lot, I grab my paper copy and stuff it in my briefcase so I can read it while waiting at the airport or in a coffee shop before a meeting. It’s also very effective to walk into a tough meeting and hand the prospect the magazine, open to a column where I discuss the answers to his or her problem. I learned that from my father. Twenty years ago he wrote a simple piece about solving crane runway problems, and it’s amazing where that article turns up these days. The article has contributed to the safety and productivity of crane-owners for two decades! Some days it’s emailed, some days it’s handed over the conference table, but it started in a print publication. What l like about LHI is that they understand print and digital do not exist in a vacuum, they have synergies, and the title has a robust presence in both digital and print. It builds to a sum greater than the parts.
B. Tad Dunville works in the lifting equipment and wind power groups at Pintsch Bubenzer, a German manufacturer of high performance disc and drum brakes for severe applications such as mill cranes, port cranes, mining machinery, and wind turbines. Dunville is also the vice president of the Crane Certification Association of America (CCAA) and has served on the Overhead Alliance committee of the Material Handling Industry (MHI).
Before joining Pintsch Bubenzer, Dunville, was director of corporate development for Ace World Companies and chief financial officer for Dearborn Crane & Engineering, where his clients included United States Steel, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Space X, Blue Origin, and British Petroleum. He has repeatedly designed new and heavy modifications for Class D and E cranes in aerospace, steel processing environments, and an automated nuclear waste cask handling crane for Fluor Construction’s Fernald Energy Facility in conjunction with the United States Department of Energy.
As an emerging leader in the lifting sector, Dunville is regularly asked to share his expertise. He has been a guest speaker at notable companies and trade associations such as BP Pipeline, Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA), Black & Veatch, and Kiewit & Sons, a $12 billion contractor. He also spends time discussing emerging business-to-business digital trends with Keystone Strategy Consulting.
Dunville earned a bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Kansas School of Law where he was twice Student President of the law school.