The Content Advantage for Small and Medium Manufacturers

Author: Whitney Koch

Content marketing is a powerful tool for businesses across various sectors to engage with their audiences, establish authority in their industries, and drive growth. Small-to-medium manufacturers are increasingly recognizing the significance of content marketing in shaping their brand identity and reaching potential customers.

Recently, the #USAMfgHour chat on X delved into this very topic. Led by Ruby Rusine from Social Success Marketing, chat participants explored the importance of content marketing for manufacturers and shared valuable insights on how it can be leveraged effectively. 

The Case for Content Marketing

The chat began with host Rusine asking participants why small-to-medium manufacturers should bother with content marketing.

“Content marketing can help manufacturers showcase their expertise, differentiate them from competitors, and build a brand personality,” virtual assistance service provider VirtuDesk said. “This attracts potential customers who resonate with what they can offer.”

Nigel Packer from Pelatis Online responded, “Whilst Quality, service, price, and turnaround are all good virtues when you get the work, it is the content that you broadcast that wins the customers. This can be in your publications online or the content of the conversations you have at an exhibition.”

“We are not into manufacturing but everyone will agree that content marketing drives new clients/customers to your business,” replied business owner and entrepreneur Pavel Stepanov.

Anna Scheller from Capri Temporary Housing chimed in: “We aren’t a manufacturer, but we’ve got a bit of marketing in our brains and our thought is that it’s important to always be helping new clients discover you! As we heard at the Grow Retreat this year, it’s dangerous to rely on current clients.”

Replying to Scheller, host Rusine said, “Great answer! Btw, what’s Grow Retreat?”

“It’s a business growth event we attend every year to get re-set and build our business plan for the year, lots of fun and very insightful!” Scheller said. “(We also get to do some awesome networking, which is one of our favorite parts).”

Whitney Koch from Keystone Click added, “Content helps you reach your target audience. TREW Marketing and @GlobalSpecLLC have done great research on technical buyers; their most recent research found that they spend the majority of their customer journey researching online.”

“Here’s the link for anyone who wants to check out the report. It’s fascinating.,” Koch added.

While quality and service are essential for all manufacturers to offer, host Rusine clarified why small-to-medium manufacturers should invest in content marketing. 

“[B]uyers do a lot of research online before reaching out to manufacturers,” host Rusine said.  “Compelling content can attract potential customers, showcase your expertise, and differentiate you from competitors.”

Content Marketing on a Budget

Participants were then asked how they would advise someone who wants to create effective content on a small marketing budget. 

“Everyone’s first instinct is to say social media, which is a pretty good option!” Scheller answered. “But our favorite is using PR tools like Qwoted and HARO to get free features in different publications that way there are other people talking about us. (The power of others!)”

Kirsten Austin from DCSC, Inc. responded to Scheller, “I’ve never heard of those, taking notes.”

“They’re phenomenal tools that allow you to connect with reporters directly for potential quotes in their articles!” Scheller explained.

Host Rusine added to the dialog: “Yes, I highly recommend HARO for a market that is not saturated.”

“I like to add that although I am a social media marketer, I do not recommend social media to those that have very low budget,” host Rusine added. “I often recommend consistent blogging, which to me is far less expensive than social media services but gets more bang for the buck.  PLUS content is built on your own real estate, not social channels.”

“That’s a good point, Ruby!” Koch said in response. “Every business on social media needs to consider what they would do when/if their social channel(s) went away.”

Host Rusine concluded this part of the conversation with her top four recommendations: “Start with what you have. Focus on value. Create content that solves your customers’ problems or educates them on relevant topics. Repurpose existing content. Can you turn a presentation into a blog post or a customer quote into a social media blurb? Be consistent. Aim for regular content creation, even if it’s just a monthly blog post.”

Using Content Marketing to Improve the Image of Manufacturing

The chat then discussed how small-to-medium manufacturers can use content to change the negative perceptions of the industry and its “un-sexy” image.

“We saw videos that emphasize quality and precision when it comes to manufacturing goods at their factory. That looks really sexy,” VirtuDesk said.

Rusine replied to ask, “Where were these videos posted?”

“Tiktok, Instagram, and Facebook reels,” VirtuDesk responded. “Check this one out: [and]”

“It really does!” Scheller added to the side conversation. “Most people underestimate the power of ASMR style content in manufacturing and it’s truly one of the best ways to make it sexy.”

Austin answered: “It’s hard to make manufacturing sexy but it sure is cool. Even when I visit my manufacturing customers, I still am amazed to see actual products being produced and how. More manufacturers should show that off.”

“The first step might be to break the ice on the general perception of manufacturing: most people outside the industry are intimidated because it’s such a wide world, so perhaps starting with marketing that warms people up to the industry and makes them laugh?” Scheller posited.

Replying to Scheller, Rusine asked, “How do you usually break the ice with other accounts, Anna?”

“It depends a little bit on where the interaction happens!” Scheller answered. “If it’s through our general social content, we focus on educational humor. If it’s direct from account to account, I love learning about the person and discovering their (sic) amazing while building a relationship.”

Host Rusine offered encouragement for Scheller’s efforts: “Good strategy, Anna! How does this impact your business?”

“Thanks! It does a lot for developing longer-term relationships with our clients AND business partners because the working relationship is built on more than just a demand/supply basis,” Scheller responded.

Adding to the side conversation, Koch said, “I like the humor idea! I think manufacturing marketers shouldn’t shy away from hopping on trends and sharing their own memes when it makes sense.”

“Speak for yourself but, I think engineering and manufacturing are very Sexy! There I said it,” Packer declared. “Imagination creativity can lead to excellent content and engagement. Let your imaginations run wild and demonstrate how your product fits into the customer’s life.”

Replying to Packer, host Rusine asked, “Any example of wild imaginings for the non-techie peeps?”

Packer shared four memes from @FarmingUK sharing agricultural humor (click here to see the images) and gave additional context: “They have been running a campaign in the UK since February to support farmers here. There are many people who do not know where their food comes from thinking it is the supermarket!  Like manufacturing many people are oblivious as to where the things they buy are made and how.”

“Ooh, I love this question! I think behind-the-scenes content is a great way to do this,” Koch said. 

Host Rusine said in response, “Curious minds are always fascinated with this kind of thing.”

To transition to the next question, host Rusine shared how she would advise small-to-medium manufacturers.

“Humanize your brand! Showcase the people behind the products. Share by demystifying the manufacturing process, people are fascinated by ‘how things are made.’ Truthfully, there are just so many ways to make it more interesting,” Rusine said.

Content Marketing Channels  for Manufacturers

Once small-to-medium manufacturers realize the importance of content marketing for their businesses and the industry, the next step is determining where to publish their content.  

“Anywhere where your audience is present!” exclaimed VirtuDesk.

“[O]n their website, in industry magazines, have links to Twitter…, LinkedIn, and possibly videos on YouTube,” Austin said.

Scheller commented, “It depends on where the audience is, but usually a general social media and ads presence isn’t a bad idea!”

“They should publish it where their buyers are!” answered Koch.

Rusine concluded this portion of the discussion by giving three channels manufacturers should publish their content, emphasizing that they should promote their content where their target audience spends time.

“Industry publications: Look for online publications relevant to your niche and see if they accept guest posts.

Social media: Share your content on LinkedIn, Twitter, or industry-specific platforms.

Your website: Make sure your website is up-to-date and includes clear calls to action for potential customers.”

How Content Marketing Helps Businesses With Complex Sales Cycles

Regardless of whether a manufacturer operates business-to-business or business-to-consumer, they often have a complex sales cycle. With that in mind, Rusine asked participants how content marketing can be used to nurture leads throughout the buyer’s journey.

“Not remember (sic) what the term for it is right now, but the concept of familiarity breeding a sense of safety is a great one to employ here!” Scheller said. “The more often you see something, the more comfortable it becomes and the more likely you are to move forward with it.

Host Rusine replied to Scheller and asked, “What’s one thing that has become familiar to your audience, Anna?”

“Our little Teodoro the Tomato plushie!” Scheller responded. “He goes in every one of our apartments as a stress ball for our clients but has also become something of a mascot for our content channels. That said, familiarity can breed contempt so we try to change things up regularly!”

Koch replied, “You should create content that addresses the questions and needs of your buyer at every stage of their journey. Getting out in front of their questions with content will help keep them moving along, especially since so much research is done online.”

Host Rusine stressed the importance of creating content that addresses each stage of the buyer’s journey “from awareness to consideration to decision.” Though there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, she shared this resource with tips and examples to help marketers develop content that moves buyers along their purchasing journey.

Tips for Longterm Content Marketing

Lastly, host Rusine acknowledged that content marketing is a long game. Because marketers and manufacturers won’t see an immediate increase in sales after implementing a content marketing strategy, it can be challenging to regularly produce content. She asked chat participants to share their best tips for staying

motivated and keeping digital manufacturing content fresh.

“It’s challenging to keep things fresh and blogging is a great way to help people understand trends vs. reality,” Austin said. “Suzan and I try to keep an outline of newer topics we have yet to cover.”

Replying to Austin, Scheller commented: “That sounds taxing! How do you keep up with the list of topics you haven’t covered when you’re constantly covering new topics?”

“It’s so hard!” Austin declared. “We keep a list, and many times it comes from a new project or something that is trending. For instance, we are researching integrating our solution to Robots. I never heard of RaaS until this. Robots as a Service. Who knew?”

Scheller said in response, “Fantastic! We never would have guessed, but it sounds like you’re using every single one of your resources to keep up with it in a high-performance manner.”

“How do you decide which ones to write about?” host Rusine asked Austin.

According to Austin, it depends. “We need to do a new one soon, sometimes it’s Suzan’s idea, sometimes mine. Sometimes it’s newer topics our clients bring up and sometimes what we see out there.”

Responding to host Rusine’s final question, VirtuDesk said: “What are your goals? Define specific and measurable goals for your content marketing strategy. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or showcasing expertise, having clear objectives provides motivation and direction.”

“And if I may add, it’s important to assess how your content fairs in the sea of content available every day,” host Rusine replied to VirtuDesk. 

Stepanov answered, “Whenever you feel overwhelmed with creating content, don’t hesitate to repurpose existing content into new formats or update outdated content with fresh insights, data, or examples. Doing so not only saves time but also maximizes its value and longevity.”

“Having a bunch of content you’ve got on a regular creation schedule or developing a series of content is a great way to have something consistently going out by creating a few weeks in advance while you react to current events with spur-of-the-moment content!” recommended Scheller.

“Scheduling in advance is a great help! Do you use a tool for this?” wondered host Rusine.

Replying to host Rusine, Scheller said, “It absolutely is! We have used a variety of different tools over the years, but currently we are using a tool called Metricool that has a wide variety of uses in closely managing the scheduled content.”

“Find groups you can follow or join for support, motivation, and to keep the creative juices flowing,” Koch recommended. “#USAMfgHour is great for that, as is Industrial Marketing Live from @gorilla76 and the Manufacturing Marketing Mastermind Paul [Kiesche] with @aviatecreative leads!”

Speaking from her many years of experience, host Rusine shared her top two tips for playing the content long game: One, “[t]rack industry trends and competitor content for inspiration.” And two, “Always write with your audience in mind. Two audiences – your users and Google. Notice I used ‘AND’ not ‘OR’. Content with value wins the visibility game,” Rusine said. 

For additional tips and motivation, host Rusine shared this webinar she presented for MNI University


Content marketing plays a pivotal role in the success of small-to-medium manufacturers. From showcasing expertise to humanizing brands and nurturing leads through complex sales cycles, this #USAMfgHour discussion underscored the multifaceted benefits of a well-executed content strategy. 

As the manufacturing landscape continues to evolve, embracing content marketing gives manufacturers a competitive edge and helps to reshape industry perceptions and drive sustainable growth. By heeding the insights shared during the chat and adopting a strategic approach to content creation and distribution, manufacturers can position themselves as industry leaders and thrive in the digital era.

About #USAMfgHour

Anyone who champions U.S. manufacturing can join in on a new conversation each week on X using the hashtag #USAMfgHour. The chat starts at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time/2 p.m. Eastern. Share positive blog posts, helpful articles, news, important information, accomplishments, events, and more with other manufacturers and supporters from throughout the country.

Are you interested in hosting a #USAMfgHour chat? Contact organizers @DCSCinc, @SocialSMktg, and @KeystoneClick.

To learn more about how Keystone Click can help you level up your online presence, contact us.