In a recent guest post (Two elements of BIM for manufacturers), I talked about the creation of BIM objects and about how content marketing could help construction product manufacturers and suppliers reach specifiers. Content marketing – according to its trade association, the CMA – is defined as:
… the discipline of creating quality branded editorial content across all media channels and platforms to deliver engaging relationships, consumer value and measurable success for brands.”
“Content marketing is packaging your expertise to help your prospects do their job better.”
In short, first, you should be thinking about creating content that can help you subtly persuade your target audience – designers, specifiers and other people who influence them – about the features, advantages and benefits of your products or materials.
This is not about advertising, but providing information and opinions – from traditional words and pictures, through to presentations, videos, infographics, podcasts, etc – that will lead prospective customers to regard you as informed industry-leading authorities, experts or opinion-leaders about your subject matter, and, in the construction context, see you as helping them deliver better buildings, etc.
Second, once you’ve created this content, it needs to be in places where people can see or hear it. If people are looking for products, often their first action will be to do an online search. Such ‘Googling’ of keywords has spawned an explosion of interest in search engine optimisation (SEO), and sophisticated content marketers are increasingly adept at getting their products or services featured in the first page or so of search engine results pages.
Yes, you can pay for prominent positions, but often users will look below the paid-for results and browse the ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ search results. Depending on the search term(s) used, Wikipedia articles often feature prominently in organic results listings (it’s the 6th most visited website in the world, after all), and, while Wikipedia is largely off-limits to PR and marketing professionals writing about their company or client or its products or services (Too many people who do PR still do not understand Wikipedia), there are alternatives.
An expert wiki
For example, the DesigningBuildings “expert wiki” was launched in July last year (backed by the Chartered Institute of Building, property developer Development Securities, engineer Buro Happold, architect Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, and the College of Estate Management), and as I wrote in February, some of its articles are already achieving exceptionally high Google search engine results.
DesigningBuildings is encouraging UK AEC industry practitioners to create articles, perhaps reusing information produced for other purposes, so that they and their companies are promoted as authoritative sources of knowledge and expertise. Articles must not be promotional in tone or about companies, branded products, services or projects – however, there remains huge scope to write with authority and insight about generic subjects (and any articles submitted by 5pm this Friday, 3 May could win a £500 prize in a CIOB-sponsored competition).
This is an open-source work of reference, not a business directory (though a company’s name and hyperlink can also be advertised – in a similar way to Google Adwords – alongside an article), but article authors can append a signature to the page with a discreet link to their user page (this is mine) which can then display further links back to their website and showing other contact details. In my view, this makes DesigningBuildings invaluable as a potential content marketing platform for product manufacturers and suppliers.
(Again, this is a slightly edited and expanded version of a guest blog post first published on the SpecifiedBy blog, Constructasaurus. Disclosure: I am providing consultancy services to DesigningBuildings.)