Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Don’t turn your back on the audience, warns Steve Hutin, the managing director of Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd, in his latest blog.
It’s been six months since we initiated what I referred to in my first blog as a triangular content marketing strategy. Those who’ve been reading since the outset will recall how I set out to combine monthly posts here with invigorated social media activity and regular communication with trade media.
It was a big step for the company. In fact, it was more a leap of faith that our audiences would embrace content from this Wales-headquartered rigging equipment company. As is often the case when one steps out of a comfort zone in business, the rewards have been rich and Alan Varney (manager) and I are glad we decided to become more visible. You should consider it too.
It’s a popular misconception, in the lifting industry and others, that keeping quiet about notable orders, equipment applications and other success stories is a way of safeguarding a customer list or not alerting competitors to those one has been doing business with. This is naive.
I wouldn’t patronise my growing readership and suggest I’d readily introduce competitors to my clients or paste my customer database at the end of this blog. But the reality is we all know who the movers and shakers are anyway. Any marketing professional who hasn’t researched potential clients, those spending money or rivals gaining market share, aren’t doing their job properly.
We have learnt a valuable lesson over recent months that the more a business communicates and shares its successes, the more it builds trust and a reputation for delivering on its promises. Again, let’s be honest, it doesn’t mean we post every project on our Twitter account, nor do we email our competitors and suggest they contact a buying decision maker who’s hinted to us they’re looking to acquire more equipment. After all, it’s an increasingly competitive marketplace and many choose on price. But turning a business to face outwards is enlightening, enriching and, best of all, profitable.
Rise above it
Let’s call a competitor Big Bob’s Rigging. We know Big Bob and his team are researching the market, calling on site managers and knocking down their prices. There’s nothing we can do about it. Big Bob is always anxious about what we’re doing and is constantly sweating over profit margins to see how cheaply he can supply that bunch of 5t slings. You’ve no doubt got a Big Bob in your industry. It’s time to rise above it.
We just supplied over 1,000 units of below-the-hook equipment for a major offshore oil and gas project in Cyprus and Portugal. And we told everyone about it. Why? Because it demonstrated our ability to deliver a big order to a short lead time. It gave our customer valuable exposure in trade media and other oil and gas companies took note of what we can do. Who cares if Big Bob phones them up? His manufacturing processes, customer service team and expertise will have to be top notch to even come close to competing.
As our contact at the customer said in the press release we circulated, “With over 40 years of experience in the oil and gas industry we pride ourselves on the quality of our services and operate to strict quality and health and safety standards. To uphold our reputation and continue to provide services to some of the largest, leading oil and gas businesses, we need a world-class supply network and RSS meets those requirements.”
I wouldn’t dream of being complacent or taking anything for granted, but I’m confident we’ve gained far more than keeping the order secret. Giving it the silent treatment won’t stop Big Bob doing his research and it won’t prevent our customer or the end user continuing to research the marketplace and keeping their supply chain options open. The importance to all companies of repeat business demonstrates that loyalty still counts for something, particularly when a purchasing decision maker is getting great product, value and service.
It’s fitting that our first press release last December was about our new 1,000t Sahm Splice hydraulic press that increased our machining capability and enabled us to manufacture 55t safe working load slings, with the oil, gas and crane rental markets in mind. I’m convinced that shouting from the rooftops about it is one of the main reasons why it’s been kept so busy, despite the well documented slump in the oil and gas sector.
Success in content marketing doesn’t come easily or instantly. We’ve learnt how important variety and consistency are, in addition to striking an educational, collaborative tone. Turning up on Twitter once a week saying, “We’re great. RT! [Retweet]” would have got us nowhere. We Tweet useful content, talk to the press with an authoritative message and tell target audiences how they can add value to their businesses, whether it directly involves our services or not.
It’s hard to say whether the 100+ Likes I received on my March blog (about a decade at the helm of the company), nearing 800 Twitter followers, or coverage in leading trade magazines should be judged as the best achievements since we launched our content marketing strategy. The way trade journal editors and their readerships have embraced us so early in this campaign has been truly humbling and is probably the standout feature. Many fall into the trap of thinking, ‘They’ll never write about us.’
The success of this media initiative was brought home to me only last week when a magazine was seeking comment from thought leaders after an American law judge with a mining commission decided that spreader beams should be redefined as part of a load or, in other words, not part of the rigging. I was honoured to be approached as a trusted commentator, even if I was mystified by the judge’s argument.
As I told the editor, the spreader beam cannot be classed as the load. Technically when it’s attached to the load it becomes the load, but when it’s on the crane hook with nothing attached it’s inescapably the rigging gear. Spreader beams are used to make lifting loads safer by taking all the crushing forces off the item that one is lifting. Without spreader beams we would be unable to carry out safe lifting operations. I’m monitoring the repercussions of this closely and will certainly be making myself available to media to comment further as industry reacts.
I hope I’ve given you some impression of the varied ways an effective content marketing strategy stands a business to gain far more than it loses. Last year we fulfilled our biggest ever oil and gas order, while our biggest project remains the major shutdown of the Dow Corning chemicals facility, where we hired the rigging equipment for the entire site. (There’s another name drop for you, Big Bob—see what you can do with it!) But as we continue to gain respect among major players and infrastructure joint ventures, I’m sure these landmark moments will be surpassed. Rest assured, we’ll tell you about them when it happens.
We’re also preparing to shout about our new depot in Hayes, West London. The team is in place and it looks like we’ll be opening on 4th July. We’ve had great feedback from potential customers in the area and we’re confident the expansion will be further energised as we engage on social media and through trade magazines. Major players in the region should also expect personal visits from us.
Big Bob won’t factor in our plans—and he shouldn’t yours either!
Thank you for reading. Follow us on Twitter at @RopeandSling
Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd