2 Questions Industrial Marketers Need to Ask About Featured Snippets

deer in the headlights for featured snippets

I know, I know…”What the heck are featured snippets?”, you ask.

In my mind, featured snippets or structured data is the largest opportunity out there for savvy industrial marketers to extend their brand into their respective industrial niches.

Hang in there with me…I wade into the weeds a little about structured data for industrial marketers.

I digress.

I had two phone calls this past week asking me about my last post. Apparently, my post got their attention. These individuals called me because they knew me personally, and both had similar questions. Their questions went something like this:

“Your last blog post got my attention. You mentioned the term “featured snippets” and I understand what they are because I see them every day. But I don’t know how to get our marketing crew to take advantage of the opportunity you spoke about in your blog?”

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Industrial Marketing’s Most Potent Trifecta

industrial marketing competitive advantage

When it comes to lead generation, a quality web presence can optimize your industrial marketing dollars if you know about the online marketing trifecta.

What trifecta, do you ask?

Google’s free tools, HubSpot’s marketing automation platform and SEMrush’s online research data.

First, let explain what each component of this grand marketing trifecta is.

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Industrial Content Marketing…The Universal Truth

the truth about industrial content marketingOK…there are a few more than one, but in my mind, there is one key element of success when it comes to small & mid-size industrials attempting to leverage the web for branding, lead generation, etc. In other words, industrial content marketing.

The one universal truth is this:

If the leader is not FULLY on board with content marketing, it is doomed.


Sorry to be so dystopian (the opposite of utopia).

However, if the leader fully understands the full implications of industrial content marketing there can be shades of utopia in his future.

I speak from, up-close & personal, experience in the mid-size industrial marketing. I guess my 10,000 hours of dedication to the craft of industrial content marketing makes me an expert, according to bestselling author, Malcolm Gladwell.

Most owners of mid-size industrials understand there needs to be a change in the way they go to market. The web is literally “eating their lunch” as buyers use the web to source just about everything.

If the leader’s branded sales materials are not there to greet a new, demanding, web-enabled buyer, then his company lost any hope of expanding his prospect and customer base for the purpose of lead generation and top-of-mind awareness…via his largest pool for prospects…the web.

So, the leader needs to embrace the change and as Jack Welch (former CEO of GE) says, “Change before you have to”.  And from Peter Drucker, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence (the web has clearly created turbulence) is not the turbulence…it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”

So, how does a business keep up with with all the web turbulence?

As I said, it all starts with leader’s attitude about growth.

If the leader is committed to growth and understands the turbulence the web has created in his channels to market, then his formerly detached attitude concerning the web will be displaced by an unbounding love of the opportunities the web has created for his company and employees.

NOW…he is ready to lead an industrial content marketing initiative.

Along with his changing attitude about the web and change, comes four other KEY elements a leader must understand for online success.

Understanding your corporate brand…your online foundation

First, if you are an industrial supplier and your brand mentions something like “best service”, “expert service”, “finest products”, “we represent premier brands”, etc… you are following…not leading. If these examples are similar to your brand message…in today’s world of search, social, mobile & AI, you may be dressed for the big game, but not competitive.

I am not even going to attempt a long discussion about industrial branding. It is a broad and deep subject and has as many facets as branding practitioners. However, I will voice my opinion. You need a brand message that tells a story…a story that connects with your buyers and bypasses the typical pablum about “best service”, “best price”, etc.

Your brand needs to connect in a more human way.

If you have decided to join the ranks of early adapters for industrial content marketing, start with your brand first.


Typically, I suggest my customers talk to Greg Miller at Maxwell and Miller agency in Kalamazoo. If you want, you can start with a publication we collaborated on, A Branding Road Map for Industrial Marketers. This e-book will give you a flavor of the best way to create a fresh brand for our industrial company. If nothing else, it helps get the creative juices going so that you can look at your company from a fresh perspective.  A more human perspective, that connects beyond the typical price/service/quality ad copy.

Find a trusted marketing partner

I have often said that in the age of search, social, mobile & AI it is difficult for a mid-size industrial to afford a quality web marketing effort.

If the leader has bought into the industrial content marketing concept, typically there are two conventional roads to follow…neither expressways to success.

  • Hire additional market personnel
  • Hire an outside agency to specializes in industrial content marketing

The first alternative typically does not work because the industrial owner/manager does not even know the right questions to ask a potential marketing hire. Because this discipline is so new the employer is thinking old marketing versus new media marketing. These are two difference disciplines. I have seen on multiple occasions…the new hire does not last 6 months. Primarily because the employer did not know what to look for.

If you are going to hire a marketing specialist to guide your new marketing effort, then hire a more experienced marketing person who comes from a traditional marketing background, yet has adapted well to new media marketing. Typically this individual comes with a bigger price tag.

Then, I also see industrial owners hire the kids with marketing degrees and they don’t really understand the human aspects of marketing & industrial sales. They know the high-tech stuff, but not the high-touch, human stuff.

There are a hand full of agencies that are experienced in the industrial content marketing. They tend to be very expensive and even if your budget can afford that approach, it is difficult to budget and maintain a sustainable content marketing effort…which is required for online success.

With a shameless plug, I suggest hiring an independent marketing guru (I just happen to know one) that can align your company with the necessary contractors to get the job done.  See…to compete in today’s online world you need to have a branding expert, a web developer, a graphics specialist, a SEO specialist, a data analyst, a social media expert and a great technical writer.

The typical mid-size industrial company simply cannot afford all these skills sets. So, it makes sense to have an “Executive Producer” that hires top talent on an as-needed basis. This is just about the only way a small or mid-size company can compete…in a quality way…online.

Get involved with an online marketing automation platform

Online success requires you deploy tons of marketing assets and track all of it…much in the same way your accounting or ERP software manages and tracks your physical & financial assets. I have written previously about this subject and believe, more than ever, online success requires a great marketing automation platform.

Get Your Sales Group Involved

This a very broad & deep subject as well. Do your best to understand the relationship between your fresh marketing efforts and your more traditional sales efforts. Make sure your sales team is involved and they know you have their best interest at heart.

It is critical.

Rather, than writing at length on this subject, I suggest you read a nine-minute blog post from HubSpot titled, How to Integrate Sales Development with Inbound Marketing to Multiply SQLs. HubSpot is not only the leader in mid-size marketing automation software, but they are also leaders in the relationship between marketing and sales. Base on HubSpot’s financial success they know this subject as well as anyone.

Below is an example of a client that has successfully outmaneuvered larger, national competitors in terms of visibility on the web. The owner is fully engaged and understands each key element of success outlined above. His great content and improved positions on the search engines has translated into improved top-of-mind awareness, lead generation and even improved hires for my client.

This graph is from SEMrush, a leading tool for digital marketers. This graph clearly demonstrates the superior position of my client (in Green circle) for multiple keywords related to their industry. Two of the domains in this graph are two of the largest companies in my client’s industry and the purple domain is the leading non-profit organization for this industry…a site visited by thousands of practitioners in the industry for updates, specifications, certifications, guidelines, etc.

We are currently working with this client to dramatically improve their search positions using a concept called topic cluster or pillar pages.

Once we launch the pillar pages on my client’s site, I fully expect this graph to show even greater distance between my client and competitors.

I will follow up and show you the results in another post in a couple months…sort of a before & after

Are you a leader?


For more info on what The Repp Group can do for your industrial marketing & lead generation…CLICK BELOW


Industrial Content Marketing Isn’t About Leads

“No more fancy metrics or acronyms that I don’t understand. I just want results…I want leads.”

This is exactly what a customer told me couple years ago, only six months after we had started an impressive website rebuild along with industrial content marketing.

Another large industrial supplier called me one month after launching a fresh brand and website with all the SEO elements built into the site and wanted to know why they were not showing up in search results for critical keywords. (I never promise quick results when it comes to web marketing and search engine placement).

Talk about short-term thinking!

I can’t tell you how many executive meetings I have attended where the following narrative was expressed; “We will only get a budget for the web project if we can guarantee lots of leads.”

In the age of search, social, mobile and AI (artificial intelligence) short-term thinking creates fatal blind spots for the industrial marketer such as illustrations sited above.

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Embrace 3 Goals to Crush Competitors Using Featured Snippets

Just imagine what your industrial brand would look like in a couple years if you achieved the following goals:

  • Became an online thought-leader for your industries’ most important topics
  • You reach #1 page rank in Google for each of your company’s products, services or industry topics
  • For each of your company’s most important topics, your company’s content was featured at the top of Google’s return page in featured snippet format or as some call it, Google’s answer box (See example below)

Google's featured snippet

Let me show you the why & how.

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How to Find Hidden Treasures in Industrial Content Marketing

Have you ever watched those TV shows where folks find old, dusty, ugly, items in the attic and then find they are worth thousands after being analyzed by an expert? Turns out the item was right under their nose for years. The recipients of good fortune often talk about the many times they wanted to take the item to the dump or rummage sale.  Now, to their surprise, they have an extremely valuable item…still old, dusty and ugly.

So it is with long-tail keywords for the industrial market.

Old dusty, long-tail keywords such as “15 infinite variable swing lathe” or “electric motor vibration analysis” or “quench oil coolers” or “Falk 5DTC gear reducer” can be extremely valuable.

Let me explain how you can be the recipient of good fortune as well…

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Achieve 100% ROI for Industrial Content Marketing

The ROI of industrial content marketingOK…as a savvy, progressive industrial marketer you are on the spot.

You have proposed an aggressive online industrial content marketing plan for your company…yet, nothing has been done.

You notice that your competitors are spending more on online marketing. You notice that your most aggressive competitor has added many calls-to-actions (CTA) on many of their product pages to attract interested prospects. Further, you hear through the grape vine that your competitor has hired an agency to develop high-quality, downloadable content on their website. In fact, you have downloaded much of your competitor’s content using an anonymous name and your heart drops as you see the very kind of content that you have been advocating for years.

Next, you hear from your star salesman that he lost a sale to your competitor. Your salesman tells you, “I thought I had the sale, then my prospect told me they found a better solution on the web”  Further, your star says, “They found some great content on the competitor’s website that explained how to install their product and that really made the sale easy for them and a lost the sale for us.”

Your heart drops to, yet, another floor.

The CEO hears the story and asks you to present your industrial content marketing presentation again. The same presentation you presented two years ago that was shelved.

This time you take the advice of one of your best friends, a CEO of a mid-size manufacturer. Your CEO friend says, “Calculate the ROI.  It might be potential ROI, but if you back up your proposal with numbers that are real and documented, they will take the hook.”

Fine. Here comes a teachable moment.

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2 Marketing Tactics to Knock Off Your Industrial Competitors

use pillar pages for industrial to create a digital moatThat is…”knock off” your competitors from Google’s first pages.

Understanding two online marketing concepts, pillar pages for industrial & content saturation, can give your industrial company a huge competitive advantage.

Bear with me for a while and I will explain how the industrial marketer that embraces these two marketing tactics will benefit from a DIGITAL MOAT his competitors will find difficult to cross.


First, let’s discuss pillar pages for industrial and why they are so important to your online marketing effort.

Google, in their infinite wisdom, continues the goal of creating the best possible user experience for their customers. You have experienced it.  Think about the results your searches rendered 5 years ago compared to the results you expect today. You simply get better information and it is quick.  Amazingly quick.

Here’s how things are changing in the search world.

Google used to rank your pages using keywords. The results you enjoyed were sometimes relevant and sometimes not so good, depending how close your requested keyword was to actual answer you were looking for. Now Google ranks your webpages around topic-based content, not keywords.

As before, Google dictates how your content should be structured on your website.

When I first started Market Pipeline we could gather critical keywords from our clients, do some keyword research and strategically load those keywords into the webpages and botta bing…the webpage was ranked well.

Now the search for information is generated in a completely different manner. Now searchers are mobile, so results have to be returned in a smaller format. Now searchers ask the search engines as if they are talking to their best friend, “Siri, can you tell me who has the most inventory of Falk speed reducers?”  “OK Google, where can I get my Baldor motor repaired?” (Of course, Google knows exactly where you are and renders the right answers based on your location).

Google continues to update their search algorithm to focus on understanding the specific intent of your search. At what location are you searching from? What exactly did you mean?  Are there other related topics that you might be interested in? Can Google provide a quick snippet of information, rather than long page of search results, such as the one below.

using pillar pages for industrial to create snippets

Just 2 years ago, the CEO of Google said that 1 in 5 searches were on mobile and voice activated. That should be a red flag for all industrial marketers.

In other words, our marketing efforts no longer focus on company or product-specific keywords as we did 5 years ago. Now, Google wants us to focus on topic clusters built around pillar pages.

One the very sharp marketers at HubSpot, Sophia Bernazzani, boils down the concept of pillar pages:

A pillar page is the basis on which a topic cluster is built. A pillar page covers all aspects of the topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth reporting in more detailed cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page. Pillar pages broadly cover a particular topic, and cluster content should address a specific keyword related to that topic in-depth”.

Given Google’s methodology of using pillar pages and related back links: “Who supplies Falk speed reducers?”, “Where can I find a used speed reducer?”  “I’m looking for new or used Falk 5DTC reducer”…Google has the opportunity to render the most appropriate answer using artificial intelligence in their algorithm.

So, after my brief explanation I would ask you, “Is your website built around pillar pages or keywords?  Are your primary competitors’ websites built around pillar pages and topic clusters or keywords?

Chances are you answered negative in both instances. And, that is the first marketing tactic that can give you a significant competitive edge over your competitors as your younger audience becomes increasing dependent on the web for everything, including industrial sourcing

So…the good news is you can easily re-architect your website around pillar pages and benefit from more traffic and potential lead generation.

For more information about topic clusters and pillar pages, read HubSpot’s marketing blog, 5 Pillar Pages Examples to Get You Started With Your Own:


Now, let’s move on to the second marketing tactic that can give your industrial company a decided edge, a lack of content for industrial marketers or content saturation.

Use Content Saturation to Own Your Industrial Niche

Based on what you already know about pillar pages, topic clusters and keywords, I am sure you realize most industrial marketers are far behind when it comes to leveraging the web for top-of-mind awareness and lead generation…whether using keywords or pillar pages…i.e. content (blog posts, e-books, spec pages, white papers, etc. )

For illustration purposes type into Google, “where can I get my Baldor motor repair”. Notice the lack of any company or topic consolidation in the return page. I know of several Baldor motor repair service centers in the Kalamazoo area and none are listed on the first page. Yes, several of the manufacturer’s webpages are listed, but the web user does not care about the specifications or the price.  They want their Baldor motor fixed right now.

This is a perfect example of the lack of content for this specific search request…i.e. very low content saturation.

Now go to Google and type in, “who has the most inventory of Falk speed reducers”?…a typical request from someone needing multiple Falk speed reducers.  Notice that www.mardustrial.com dominates the first page with the top 5 positions. Notice the URL addresses of each return. Google has rewarded Mar-Dustrial with top position, because they have given the web user the content they need.

In this case Mar-Dustrial create a pillar page (either by design or by accident) about “falk-speed-reducers” and with related topic clusters, such as “inventory” or “power transmission” linked to it.

Can you say “brand awareness”?  How about, “lead generation”?

My point is this:

Most industrial companies are 10 years behind when leveraging the web for top-of-mind awareness and lead generation.

I predict the industrial companies that embrace the changing search landscape, pillar pages for industrial and a lack of content in their industrial sectors, will emerge with a significant DIGITAL MOAT around their business.

For more info on what The Repp Group can do for your industrial marketing & lead generation…CLICK BELOW

When You Do Industrial Content Marketing…Do No Evil

I was in the car today and made the mistake of answering a local number that was not identified by caller ID. Sure enough, I had to put my nasty hat on and tell them to “get lost”.

My wife and I switched from Android to iPhone last month at the assistance of my wife…actually my wife’s friends, as well as my own kids. (Domestic tranquility is bliss.)

I noticed that several of my favorite blogs were now populated with extremely annoying pop-up ads on the iPhone versus my old Android. I will fix that!

It seems like every website you visit now has followed you around like some sleazeball stalker and then displays ads for the last watch you were looking at on Amazon, that last automobile you were researching or those magnificent golf clubs you had your eye on. Creeps me out.

Technology is great. Your car works better because of technology. Your medical care is better because of technology. Industry is more productive because of technology.  And so, it goes.

But marketing is suffering because of technology & marketing automation…and big-data is the culprit.

Now marketing professionals can slice & dice customer data and push data and annoying ads to millions of customers and a meager 1% conversion renders a healthy return on their investment.

I hear it almost daily from my marketing friends, “But…it just works”. To me it is evil.

If you know me and read this blog you know that I am a believer in using the web, big-data and marketing automation to gain a competitive advantage over your industrial competitors.


Continue reading “When You Do Industrial Content Marketing…Do No Evil”

Industrial Marketing Strategy & Insights in the Age of Google

industrial marketing strategyI recently met with two Presidents in the same week. One was a mid-size manufacturer of machine tools. The other was the owner of a third-generation industrial supplier.

Almost in lock-step they both, passionately, howled, “Tom, our trade shows, cold calls, and e-mails blasts just don’t work as they used to!”

Both went on to admit they are woefully behind when it came to using the web to brand and market their businesses. They both wanted to know if the web could improve lead generation and customer retention…i.e. industrial branding.

Both, wanted to know if there was some recent marketing data on the buying habits of their customers. Frankly, neither executive had any idea of where to begin and wanted some solid marketing data on what others are doing in their sectors in terms of web marketing.

I was aware of two recent studies that would provide guidance and intelligence for these two industrial executives as they re-tooled their respective industrial marketing strategies.

I viewed this opportunity as a teachable moment to instruct both on the value of industrial content marketing. I told both, “Tell you what, I know of two excellent studies and I will publish them on my blog right after New Year’s. I knew both were subscribers to my blog so I instructed them to keep an eye on their inboxes as they will be notified when I publish my post.

So…if you are looking for some critical intelligence concerning your industrial marketing strategy here are two recent reports: One from GlobalSpec.com titled, IEEE GlobalSpec Releases Findings from Its Annual Industrial Marketing Trends SurveyThe other from Engineering.com titled, How Engineers Find Information 2018.

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