Blogging: Let’s Call it White Paper-ing So Industrial Companies Will Get It

I’ve been talking about blogging in the ISA Automation Marketing & Sales Group on LinkedIn with Kerry O’Malley and Jim Cahill. The issue is, why do so many industrial companies not get the importance of blogging? Maybe it’s the terminology? How about if we call it “newsletter-ing” or “white paper-ing“? Would companies then realize how important this activity is?

Whatever we call it, newsletter-ing / white paper-ing / blogging is a critical communications tool in the 21st Century — for establishing a company’s credibility, building visibility in the industry, generating leads, and yes, even making sales. Ask Jim Cahill, Chief Blogger and Head of Social Media at Emerson Process Management. He’s on record in the book Groundswell that they regularly generate contacts that are worth millions of dollars in business via their blog: EmersonProcessExperts. Kudos, Jim!

I’m hoping industrial companies don’t get blogging because it’s just a terminology issue (which has a large, generational component). HubSpot’s been grinding the phrase “inbound marketing” into small businesses for several years now. Did you know that inbound marketing has been going on for many, many decades? Public relations is mostly an inbound marketing activity. I place an article in a magazine and hope hundreds of prospects will trip across it, read it, and call my company. Same for a product press release I send out – when the magazine picks it up, I want my prospects to find it and come running back to me.

Blogging is an important digital component of any marketing or sales program that targets techies. It’s CONTENT; hopefully good, meaty content. Not only are blog posts akin to newsletter articles and white papers… they have a lot of similarities to PR. Write a credible, info-filled white paper type article, but this time place it on your blog instead of in a magazine. Or maybe you write two versions of the article, one for your blog and one for a magazine. Now you get search engines like Google crawling all those great keywords and bringing your company higher up in the rankings. People can “follow” your blog and be notified when it’s updated. Influencers in the industry can easily find this information because it’s online and pass it along to your prospects.

We handle a number of client blogs and e-newsletters (which share a lot of info, back and forth). I’m always pleasantly surprised at how many editors subscribe / follow and then ask our clients for material based on these posts to use in their publications.

Ok, so we’ve changed the word “blogging” to “white paper-ing.” So no more excuse for industrial companies to have their heads in the “digital sand.” And there, now I’ve blogged about it, too ­čÖé


  1. Jim Cahill says:

    Shari, Thanks for the shoutout!

    I’ve been short “white-papering” for more than half a decade now and still love the stories I receive. A former customer from a Latin American country, now employee, was doing research on how to best do a hot cutover (keeping the plant running while switching over from the old to the new system–akin to updating the electronics in your car as it travels down the highway).

    His company was seeking to modernize their control, safety, and fire & gas systems. He found very little in his Google searches other than several blog posts I had done sharing the stories of some of our hot cutover project experts. The one post he showed me he saved as a PDF and sent around to the project team in 2011 was from 2008.

    This post helped get us into the picture from a sales perspective and has led to multiple projects in the tens of millions.

    In fact, this comment is a preview of a post for next week that I am reviewing with the person who shared the story.

    Instead of leaving your stories buried in email, get ’em out in a blog/whitepaper/whatever which gets it out for the search engines to index.

    You never know who’ll find it and what kind of business it will lead to!

  2. Often clients cannot see how a blog directly generates sales, so they see no reason to spend money on blogs. But it keeps the site relevant and can help rank for specific keywords, driving traffic to the site and sequentially driving sales. It is important that companies understand this or they won’t dedicate the time or the resources needed to maintain a successful blog.

  3. It’s a tough nut to crack. The B-word definitely conjures a lot of fear. Maybe us marketing types need to figure out a better way to market the benefits of blogging to our clients/bosses. So instead of saying, “You really really ought to start blogging,” it could be along the lines of, “Our buyers are doing xx% of the research before we even know they’re looking. Want to consider ways we can communicate our expertise to capture their attention earlier in the cycle?”

  4. Hi Shari,

    I’ve been evangelizing blogging to marketing people for at least as long as Jim’s been blogging. One of the problems is that marketing people don’t always know what to say. It’s scary not to use “marketing spin” on everything, I guess.

    The biggest obstacle is commitment. Many have started. Many have quit. There have been some good ones that just died off. Or the blogger got laid off. Or quit. Or the marketing VP didn’t get it.

    Six years ago we all said “the young people coming into the field will adopt the new technology.” Wrong. They do what they’re told, I guess. Or don’t know what to say.

    It’s too bad. Here is this “self-publishing” technology (what the originator of the whole thing called it) just waiting to be used to reach customers and prospects–and it goes unused. Meanwhile they waste money on old things. Or Websites that suck.

  5. sharilee says:

    Michael, I’ve been selling the blog concept with that kind of user data for a loooong time. It’s still not getting through. There’s something else going on that’s preventing industrial companies from taking that next step.

    Maybe it is fear. You do, indeed, have to have something to say. And, as Gary points out, it can’t be a soliloquy of spin. Or an unending parade of “web sites that suck.” Lol

    Jim, perfect example of the goldmine that is our internal email. Didn’t we put that info into internal knowledge bases and public FAQs? If not, no better time than the present. Along the way, expand them a bit into a few paragraphs for a blog post.

    I mentioned the “Is Google Making Us Stupid” article a few blog posts ago. Maybe we’re all getting better at skimming vast amounts of online info and forgetting how to create it. I fear we are losing our ability to think deeply.

    Decades ago, Omega Engineering showed the industry how incredibly valuable tips and tutorials and reference tables can be. Did we forget the lesson or did most companies not learn?

  6. Shari,

    Curious if you’re finding any similar traits among those who are adventurous enough to try (and stick to) blogging? Maybe a certain personality type, industry, company culture or preexisting commitment to marketing? It seems it’s about hitting the right person — someone who instinctively sees how the marketing pieces fit together and has a desire/knack to communicate.

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