September 23, 2019

How Indium Found a Killer Advantage in a Boring Business

Chances are good that you’ve never heard of Indium Corporation.

Not even once.

I get it. I’d never heard of them either.

That’s because, although Indium was founded in 1934 and has offices all over the world, and reportedly has revenues north of $500 million USD per year, it operates in an industry that most of us overlook. It develops and manufactures materials used primarily in the electronics assembly industry.

That means it’s a materials supplier to the global electronics, semiconductor, thin film, thermal management, and solar markets, with a range of products that include solders, fluxes, brazes, thermal interface materials, sputtering targets, indium, gallium, germanium, tin metals, inorganic compounds and more.

Did you just skip over that paragraph?

I bet you did.

Because this stuff isn’t fun. It’s complicated work that only a handful of people on the planet really know much about or pay attention to.

But that doesn’t mean the work that Indium does is unimportant. On the contrary, its industrial soldering equipment is used in popular devices that just about everyone on the planet uses every day. It’s the kind of critical infrastructure company that’s doing big things without being noticed.

Big, exciting things, in rapidly-changing industries.

So, in 2005, Indium took a step that few others in its complex industry had: It started a blog. Its goal? To “help engineers answer the most channeling industrial solder questions.”

Wow. Who would ever read that, right?

Well, engineers would. And they have.

Over the first 18 months of its existence, the Indium blog drove a 600% increase in qualified leads to the company’s sales team, and there are now 27 engineers blogging on their site about industrial soldering and it’s translated into 6 different languages.

I’m serious. Go check it out now before I get on my soapbox.

Why is this working for them?

They’re the experts on their own business

Indium’s leadership knows that they aren’t going to be on the cover of Time magazine anytime soon. Their business is just too niche for the general public.

But that’s OK.

In fact, it’s an advantage.

Indium knows just what their customers want to hear, because they’re already talking to those customers. Solder engineers, god love ’em, are just different than you and me. Solder paste parameters… preform purity, indium dimensions… They have deep knowledge that (no boast here) totally goes over my head.

I see a post about corded wire in robotic soldering applications and, well, I don’t click on it.

I have no interest or idea what that’s about.

But solder engineers do. And those same engineers are Indium’s primary customer. They don’t want to reach me; they want to reach them. And their blog is helping them do it.

Nobody wants to read about this stuff (almost nobody)

In fact, just by being the one place online where engineers like that can find information and commentary on a subject that really interests them, Indium is able to stay top of mind in its segment of the market.

There’s just no competition for mind share.

This is a unique advantage that some industries have. Their competition just isn’t trying to get their voices heard, so there’s a massive opening for even smaller companies to stand up and start broadcasting.

Where have I seen this happening? Engineering, for one. But also finance, healthcare / medicine, B2B services, energy and more. The sky’s the limit in those fields.

A lot of its content already exists

Yes, Indium has a team of nearly 30 engineers working on its blog these days, and yes a lot of work goes into creating that steady drumbeat of content.

But, here’s the thing: that doesn’t mean it has to reinvent the wheel every day or every week.

Engineers are a smart crowd and “content creation” is generally what they do over the course of their normal days anyway. They’re drafting project reports, summarizing findings, reading about the latest technologies, etc.

By tapping into that natural workflow, Indium has been able to turn work that its engineers were already doing into a valuable marketing channel for the company, with limited extra effort.

Not bad.

Layup Content exists to solve problems like this. We take complex, niche businesses (like Indium) and boil down the work they’re doing into messaging that sets them apart from the competition. Because in today’s world, every company looks the same. We bring back the personality to help you connect and (eventually) sell. Learn more at wearelayup.com or hit my up at tim@wearelayup.com.

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