There are hundreds of engineering companies that have seen success in their first few years of product launch. It makes sense. You've got a great product and you know it inside out, so if you're really passionate about it and there's a demand, you're going to sell some!
Let's be honest, there's a certain pride in confessing you've marketed and sold your product from the start. So, if you're selling, isn't marketing pointless? Well no, not quite!
As you see rapid growth, marketing for engineers can become a problem. There's going to be a point where a. You need a marketing plan to ensure you hit shareholder targets, and b. You need a marketing strategy to align goals with your sales team.
This is where the relationship can sour, you become frustrated because you weren't proactive or interested enough to build a team or a plan, and marketing becomes that annoying sibling that's always pestering you for attention. Although you don't want to, sooner or later you're going to have to give it them!
Should I Commit?
Most importantly, half-hearted marketing efforts just aren't going to work. You need commitment to grow your online audience, it doesn't happen with a few well-planned blog articles and a few social media posts. Stick to your content schedule and strategy (if you have one!) and publish content consistently.
According to MarketingToday, engineers have a low opinion of advertising and marketing managers. For them, empirical evidence and logic triumphs over gimmicky, sweet-nothings and promotional content.
Top marketing agency Hubspot’s Peter Caputa aptly puts it, engineers still view marketing as the dark side or the necessary evil. Engineers are critical, sceptical breed of people who must ensure that something is tried and tested before they can try it.
4 Marketing For Engineering Misconceptions
1. Marketers Are All Creativity And No Substance.
It's a marketers job to be creative, but there's always a reason behind it. They base their decisions on facts as well, it's just a different method. Chances are, if you're an engineer you need to get the product right the first time. Nobody wants a bridge to collapse or their latest piece of technology to explode!
Marketing is all about trying to find the best solution, but there are several ways they can do this so it's important to try them all. Let's face it, nobody's going to be hurt by changing the placement of a web ad!
The best marketing companies will always give you a breakdown of results, showing you honest stats, figures and plans to improve.
2. Marketers Don't Even Know What Their Jobs Are!
There's a trend developing, and it's one that doesn't sit well with engineers. Who wants to contact a marketing agency to be put in contact with the 'honorary king of content'?
What happened to proper job titles that explained what the person did? If you can't explain what you do in 2-3 words, how are you going to be able to do it in 200?
It has to be said that not all marketers operate in this fantasy job role land. Most marketers know what their job is and can tell you in an honest, direct way.
Avoid marketing professionals with fancy nicknames and pointless job roles. If you want to look for an inbound marketer you should be able to find one.
3. Marketers Don't Understand My Product!
Marketing for engineers can start off easy. You created the product, you know everything about it, so why would you get someone else to sell it? especially someone that knows absolutely nothing about it! By the time you've explained all the details and intricacies of the product, you may as well have done it yourself.
Whilst there's some truth in that statement, you can't market a product on your own. So you have to be prepared for someone to get it wrong! Whether that's an employee or an outsourced marketer.
The best marketers know that listening is fundamental when understanding a complex product, and most have been tuning their skills for years. If you can find yourself a marketing professional that's prepared to shut up and listen, you're onto a winner!
4. Marketers Aren't Accountable For Their Failures
As we just mentioned, marketing is an experimental field with a trial and error approach, which can be off-putting when engineers have to get everything right. Some marketers use this as a veil to cover failure and dodge any accountability.
This isn't the case for all marketers though. When marketing for engineers, experienced professionals will set up a soft/hard metrics approach. For example, whilst it's difficult to give a definitive answer on whether people like a page design, you can give a metric stating how many people visit that page.
How Does Marketing For Engineering Work?
Marketers and engineers aren't that dissimilar. They both have a natural curiosity about how and why things work, a commitment to improving those things, take accountability when they go wrong, and love to soak up the praise when they go right.
The only way engineers and marketers are different is in their discipline and their approach. However, different approaches can blend to create a better approach, and that's appealing to both parties.
The engineer's logical, fact based approach means objectives and direction will never be compromised, and the marketers commitment to selling the product with style and substance mean these two professions can form a mean alliance if you let it flourish.
Step 1. Out With The Outbound - In With The Inbound
Pestering people is becoming a thing of the past, ever head of GDPR before? Traditionally, most marketing messages were sent out in the form of ready-to-bin leaflets and annoying phone-calls whilst you were tucking into your tea.
Nowadays, the process has evolved and it's more about putting yourself out there as an attractive proposition. You say we're here, we've got the information you need and wait for people to come to you. Sounds risky, but it works!
- Attract - Create content that is valuable to your customers. For example, explainer blogs that solve part of a problem.
- Convert - Offer more content that gets deeper into the issue and shows the customer you have knowledge of the subject. For example, free ebooks and guides.
- Close - Transform your leads into customers by using marketing automation technique. For example, email marketing and social monitoring.
- Delight - The journey is never over! Turn your customers into advocates. Create case studies and continue to help them with their problems with aftercare.
For more information, read our comprehensive guide to inbound marketing !
Step 2 - Build A Buyer Persona
If you've already sold some of your product, you may start to notice a pattern emerging. A certain industry, industry professional or person may show more interest that anyone else. Marketing for engineers is easier with buyer personas.
Having an idea who your customer is makes it easier for you and your team to target them. They'll get to know the persona and understand their motivations, and reason for buying your product. They'll also help you create personas for markets you want to enter, or people you don't want to target.
Using this buyer persona template, construct 1 buyer persona with your team. Let's see if everyone agrees!
Step 3 - Create Content For Your Persona
Once you know who you're targeting, you need to create content they'll love. You'll have written about your persona's problems, so you need to make an attempt to answer them!
For example, Brexit will have some impact on how engineering companies recruit overseas talent. If you were looking to recruit someone, would you want to know how it would affect you? Put yourself in their shoes and see what ideas you come up with. It can be tricky!
Google puts content on page 1 for various reasons, one of the most important is keywords. If you wanted to rank for 'brexit recruitment options' you would need to research that keyword and check if people are searching for it. It's called search engine optimisation.
Combining Skills For Success
Although marketers and engineers have very different approaches to marketing, they both share similar thoughts in their goals and objectives. Marketers and engineers must learn to combine creativity and fact. Marketing material needs to be succinct and to the point, but don't forget it has to be sold, people have to be persuaded!
Take a detailed look at engineering marketing and what strategies you can use to attract customers.
Editors note: This post has been revamped and updated for 2018. At Red-Fern, we love keeping our content fresh, it ensures our articles are up-to-date, relevant and accurate!