Marketing and Communicating to Engineers: The 8 Things You Need To Know
I worked for a very long time in the advanced manufacturing and automation industries which means I have worked with a lot of engineers. It also means that I created a lot of marketing materials over those years. Everything from product brochures, sell sheets, annual reports, to capability brochures and technical animations.
Communicating and marketing to engineers presents an interesting challenge. Engineers are different. In marketing and in business, especially in business to business communications, you must market to a wide range of people. But if your target audience includes engineers and other technical experts, you need to consider the techniques, tools and strategies to ensure your marketing message is heard by the people making the decisions.
If your audience includes engineers, have a read and let me know what you think about marketing to engineers.
They are pretty intelligent people.
Engineers all did their higher ed training together. In classes all together, in subjects like Fluid Dynamics and Concrete. Yes they took math and physics, but it was math and physics “for engineering”. It was a very difficult education. They graduate and get an iron ring and belong to the secret society for life. They know that they are smart. It doesn’t make them arrogant, just engineers. Remember that they want to know that your product, service, technology works from proof – even if they have to prove it to themselves. They prove it with past experience, part samples, demos and experiments.
Give them what they want.
Engineers love data. They want facts and they want numbers. Give them the proof. Engineers love to be educated and want you to give them the tools to educate themselves, their bosses, their peers, and subordinates. Make your specification sheets and other content easy to read, digest and include the relevant, detailed data points.
Create great content.
Everyone has heard the phrase that “content is king”. It means that if you put good (no make that great) content on the web, for example, and make sure that it ranks organically in the search engine results pages, you will have more success in engaging your target engineering groups. Because engineers are loathe to click on the paid results. Of course, be consistent with your content, and more content is usually better.
Make it easy for them.
No one, including engineers, wants to work hard to find information. So make sure you make it easy for engineers to find the data on the product that they are looking for. If you have a new product, name it and brand it accordingly. Engineers want things to make sense. If you have video available or are creating a brochure or specification sheets, name them accordingly too.
Engineers resist marketing.
There is no silver bullet when communicating to engineering departments. When marketing to engineers, forget direct mail and cold-calling. Think about offering content that works better with engineers, as I’ve already mentioned, and serving them the content they need, when they need it. Think blogs, web pages, white papers, technical reviews in magazines, demos, webinars and tradeshows.
Change it up.
Printed brochures and specification sheets are very useful and I would say even foundational to marketing technical products. But don’t forget the other formats of information when presenting to engineers: wire diagrams, photographs, photo realistic animations, CAD files, video, PDFs, and testimonials. One size does not fit all and engineers are happy to be entertained and educated. We in marketing call it “edutainment”.
Webinars are a great vehicle for communicating to the engineering community. Webinars offer the opportunity for trusted content and news and are specific, direct and easily consumed.
When presenting visually to engineering groups, charts and graphs are better than infographics. Remember that symbols and equations are their comfort zone.
Engineers trust other engineers.
Word of mouth in this community is strong. Get your product accepted at head office or by others in the engineering community.
Engineers will look for the weakest link.
It would be hard to call all engineers skeptics; that is a very wide brush with which to paint an entire profession. A natural tendency is for engineers to look where your product may fail first. And they are not shy on this one. They will tell you.
In a nutshell, when communicating to engineers here are my 8 recommendations:
Engineers trust what they know and know what they trust.
Engineers want to reduce risk in their designs.
Engineers don’t like to fail or to be called out for an error.
Engineers like to buy, but they don’t want to be sold.
Engineers want to cut through the marketing speak.
Engineers want easy access to the facts.
Engineers are comfortable with industry jargon.
Engineers are conservative but innovative.
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