Rockwell Automation: Using Content Marketing to Be Global, Local, and Cost Effective

AutomationToday oct07 coverYou just know that a company whose service mark is: “Listen. Think. Solve.” will have a pretty good handle on content marketing.

This global manufacturing player uses both print and online content marketing effectively to connect with its technically savvy buyers around the world.

Even with a limited budget, the Rockwell Automation Asia-Pacific division is able to reach out to customers and prospects in multiple languages and multiple ways. Traditional trade publication advertising has become less effective over the years. In addition, in the Asia-Pacific region, trade shows which are big in North American and Europe are relatively rare. This limits the ways in which this manufacturing giant can communicate effectively and regularly with its audience.

Because of these limitations, they have chosen to create their own high-quality content which reflects the high quality of their products and services.

Their Asia-Pacific magazine, “Automation Today” is an excellent example of how to provid e relevant content that is both broadly applicable to its customers—and customized to individual countries. Automation Today typifies Rockwell’s “listen, think, solve” approach to its customers and to content marketing.

Gail Anderson, Manager of Asia-Pacific Marketing Communications, indicates that Rockwell’s current approach is much different from the way they used to handle customer communications:

“We used to be very feature oriented and internally focused. But we have learned that our customers are looking for solutions. We now take a customer centric selling approach to determine what our customers need to solve their problems.”

Anderson’s comments on customer-centric ring true on the web. Here’s how the company describes what they do at the very top of the home page of their website:

When it comes to automation, your requirements are unique. So are our solutions. We listen to you, then apply our resources to build cost-effective, results-based solutions. It could be a single, powerful component. An information or asset management solution. Or an enterprise-wide, integrated system. Whatever your automation requirement, you’ll find the answer by partnering with us.

Rockwell Automation is a $5 billion global company headquartered in Milwaukee with 20,000 employees worldwide, serving customers in 80 countries. They provide solutions both to manufacturing end-users and to OEMs. As they put it these solutions are “designed to give our customers a competitive edge.”

In fact, Rockwell Automation is a veteran content marketer and has long published a monthly magazine in North America called “The Journal.” This successful effort is today very much customer and solution focused. Although The Journal is a custom publication it could certainly stand on its own as a solid monthly manufacturing magazine.

Automation Today stands on the shoulders of its North American sister publication. Gail Anderson and her team launched the new magazine in 1999 to provide relevant and meaningful content to a diverse audience of customers in the Asia-Pacific region. Previously they had simply mailed copies of The Journal from the United States. This was less than optimal because it was expensive and because the magazine contained lots of North American advertising which had relatively little relevance to the Asia-Pacific market.

Although Automation Today can pick up stories from its sister magazine, its content tends to be unique and specific to its own markets. To be certain that the publication is relevant to its readers, they have conducted research asking whether it gives customer readers what they need, whether the articles are the right length, whether the frequency is right, and whether it’s written to the right technical level. They also determine exactly who is reading it and whether it’s being shared with colleagues.

Gail’s team prepares the magazine in electronic format with 18 fixed pages and two blank pages—which can be filled with local content. Some country teams actually add extra pages to the publication. It is printed in five languages: two versions of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and British English. Each country manages its own final production, printing, and circulation.

Typical feature articles are fairly horizontal so that it is clear to readers in different disciplines how they can benefit from the solution described. Although many of the articles do feature Rockwell products and services, they are always written from the perspective of solving customer problems.

For example, a typically practical article described a three step migration program that enables manufacturers to transition from aging distributed control systems ($65 billion worth of existing control systems are estimated to be near the end of their life cycle). The process they describe is designed to eliminate most of the pain from a complex transition. Even though the process is illustrated with Rockwell automation equipment, it would apply to matter what kind of automation equipment was involved.

 

process control diagram Detailed and useful graphics accompany the more complex feature articles. Thus, an article about process control automation included a very detailed graphical diagram of the system and process described. It’s obvious that a great deal of care has gone into each element of the magazine.

 

 

 

st ives application story Each issue also features a number of customer success stories. The October 2007 issue described an incredibly complex Rockwell Automation application in an Australian gold mine. It involved the implementation of an “expert control” system in a very challenging process control situation. The discussion of the implementation is sophisticated, high-level, and well-written.

 

 

 

The Australia team adds valuable content in print and online.

Each country within the Asia-Pacific region can customize its content marketing efforts. The Australian team does an excellent job with their version of the magazine. They also publish a useful and enjoyable eNewsletter.

They use their two pages effectively so that it seems to their Australian customers that this is an outstanding local manufacturing magazine. As an example, one of their brief articles, “A Day in the Life of a Technical Instructor,” does a great job of humanizing a critical member of the Rockwell team, John Sciberras. By describing in detail what he does and how he does it, readers learn how a talented Rockwell veteran spends his time helping customers just like them to keep their technical knowledge and skills current.

The Aussie team does a great job of content marketing online as well. Their eNewsletter is delivered bimonthly and is:

“packed with the most up-to-the-minute news. eNewsletter will enable you to be among the first to find out about new products, training and services, events, workshops and any special offers from Rockwell Automation Australia.”

The December 2007 issue includes 10 articles on a wide variety of topics. Readers find everything from how to protect your automation investment to asset management to the complete 2008 training schedule.

automated foosball newsletter article The lead story highlights a group of Adelaide University students who have created an automated version of foosball which can blow away the human opposition. It also features, as do a number of stories in the newsletter, local partners of Rockwell. In this way, the newsletter provides useful and interesting content to its end users—and helps to promote the services of its trusted local partners.

 

 

 

 

Vital Global Customer Resource: The Corporate Online Literature Library

The Asia-Pacific team benefits from a well-structured corporate site that includes a wealth of product-related content to make it easier for customers to buy.

literature library The Literature Library is a perfect example. It is clearly organized by:

· Products

· Industries and applications

· Services and support

· Solutions

 

Current and prospective customers can drill down to find an incredible amount of information about any product or service they are likely to need—and how it would be used in their application or industry. Thus, in a few minutes buyers can access what would have taken lots of phone calls, lots of postage, and lots of time just 5 or 10 years ago. Rockwell Automation provides instant information gratification for its web visitors.

Content Marketing Takeaways

The Asia-Pacific division of Rockwell automation has a limited marketing budget. They have chosen to focus much of their effort on content marketing because it accurately reflects their customer centric focus.

When the folks at Rockwell talk about listening, thinking, and solving, they are dead serious. The quality of their print and online publications makes it clear to their customers that Rockwell is walking the walk.

Their products and services provide solutions to thorny manufacturing problems. Their content marketing efforts focus on providing relevant information that describes how to achieve the same kind of solutions. Although their articles typically talk about Rockwell products and services, they have intrinsic value based on the thoroughness and clarity of their discussion of technical, process, and automation issues.

Rockwell Automation proves that just because you’re a technology company doesn’t mean that you have to live in a feature-oriented universe. In fact, customer-centric content marketing is probably even more important if this is the world in which you operate. If you can describe to your potential customers how they can stay at the top of their game technologically and how they can solve very difficult manufacturing problems, you will begin to earn their trust and to show that you and your organization are the competent and caring partners they are need.

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