What Should You Blog About?
A blog can be an effective sales and marketing tool for your machine shop so long as you’re generating the right types of posts (and you’re consistently posting to it).
Each year, when we conduct a Top Shops benchmarking survey, we ask participants to select from a list of strategies they think are effective sales and marketing tools for their business. In general, the most commonly selected are brochures, sales personnel, company website and facility tours.
The percentage of those who say blogs are effective has traditionally been low (although there was a bit of an increase in our last survey). This has always puzzled me, because a blog enables shops to get new information out to customers and prospects more regularly. It also enables them to offer more detail than they could with Twitter, Facebook or Instagram (although a blog can prove valuable to those social media channels as I’ll mention later).
I’m wondering if the reason shops don’t perceive blogs to be effective sales and marketing tools is because they’re not choosing the right topics (and/or not providing sufficient detail). Here are a few ideas that I think make for good blog post topics:
- New equipment. Explain how new capacity or capabilities gained by adding this equipment will enable you to better serve your customers and give you a leg up on your competition.
- Facility expansions. Similar to new equipment purchases, this type of investment shows that you’re not only growing your business, but that you’re it for the long haul. Describe what this means to your business and to your customers.
- New certifications. Customers see value in shops that have become certified to standards such as ISO 9001 and AS9100 (and some require it). Make sure they know of the efforts you put into attaining those certifications.
- Material experience. If you’re particularly adept at machining challenging materials such as high-temperature alloys, describe some of the strategies you apply. What makes them difficult to machine, and how do you apply your expertise to get the job done?
- Process improvements. Have you realized benefits by implementing a lean manufacturing mindset, applying a Theory of Constraints philosophy, leveraging machine-monitoring capabilities or using enterprise resource planning (ERP) software? If so, elaborate.
- Success stories. Describe situations in which you helped a customer out of a jam; particularly tricky parts you’ve machined and how you tapped your expertise to complete them; or how you used your design for manufacturability (DFM) knowledge to speed or simplify part production. For these, think in terms of the articles that appear in our Better Production section in print. Those articles succinctly describe how the capabilities of a piece of equipment, software, tool, etc., solved a particular machining problem.
So, how often should you post? The Modern Machine Shop blog is currently updated six days per week, but we’re in the business of manufacturing stories, not parts. A good target for a shop to shoot for is one blog post per week. Also, send an email to your customers to alert them that a new post has been added (much like we do each Friday for subscribers to our blog enewsletter, “The Shop”).
In addition, link to your blog posts via your social media channels to maximize your blog post exposure as well as the ROI for writing posts.