As part of a new Web design project that I’m working on for an engineering company, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the past two weeks reviewing Websites of well-known engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies.
These EPC companies not only have a substantial presence (major employers) in Houston, Texas but they also have a large global footprint.
I figured these companies would be great examples of marketing with content. What I found contradicts the rules of content marketing as practiced today.
Yet, these EPC companies are extremely successful in how they are marketing themselves to generate sales and grow their revenues.
And the numbers don’t lie. Here are four EPC companies that I looked at and their sales figures:
- Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (www.jacobs.com, NYSE: JEC) — about $10 billion in 2010
- Fluor Corporation (www.fluor.com, NYSE: FLR) – $22 billion in 2009
- Bechtel (www.bechtel, Privately held) — $30.8 billion in 2009
- KBR (www.kbr.com, NYSE: KBR) — $2.7 billion in Q2-2010
Obviously, whatever they are doing is working to post those kinds of numbers despite the recession.
The similarities between their Websites are striking. You would be hard pressed to tell which site you are on if you blocked out the name and the logo.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
- Everyone of them either uses Business Units or Markets in their main navigation to list the industries they serve (they all serve similar ones)
- They all claim they are either the “world’s largest” or the “global leader” in the EPC space
- Text describing their services is almost 100% focused on the company – packed with we and our with a rare mention of you or yours
- Every company claims that their success is built on building lasting relationships with their customers yet the sites emphasize their people, their expertise and their engineering capabilities
- They prove their claims (good idea) by showcasing ongoing and/or completed projects that are described in terms of scope and size. Example – “…a 154,324-ton- (140,000-metric-ton-) per-day copper concentrator that will incorporate a crushing, grinding, …open-pit mines.”
- Recruiting new engineering talent (Careers) and being a good corporate citizen (Sustainability) are common to all sites
- Free and valuable content is usually in-depth technical articles written by engineers and not produced by marketing as bait for capturing someone’s contact information
- White papers and other lead nurturing content are rare finds on these sites (exception being Fluor, they have done a great job on their case studies)
At least on the surface, it seems like these engineering companies are breaking the rules of modern content marketing.
Junta42, a leading authority in my opinion, defines content marketing as:
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
I see these EPC companies breaking the rules and still accomplishing all those content marketing goals, bolded in the above definition. Here’s how:
- They clearly define their target audience and quickly segment their site visitors by using common industry classifications. That’s how their prospects and customers identify themselves in a very familiar way
- They understand the needs of their target audience and serve up relevant content that emphasizes technical expertise, engineering ingenuity and their range of capabilities (types of projects) instead of using marketing fluff
- Their marketing content conveys a very high degree of trust and a proven ability to lower risks to an absolute minimum. This is imperative because the smallest failure can result in catastrophic losses
- These companies are not going to attract, acquire and engage with customers who award multi-million or billion dollar CAPEX projects with an automated drip content marketing campaign. Nurturing and moving the prospect along the buy cycle comes from preparing a highly customized dossier that includes scope of services, global expertise, presence of local engineering talent, adherence to internationally recognized quality and safety standards, awards won for engineering excellence and innovation, professional certifications and similar projects completed
- They are using their content to attract new engineering talent, their most important asset and the shortage is a serious issue in the U.S., especially with the aging boomer generation of engineers close to retirement
- Branding and raising the company’s profile by talking extensively about a current global “hot” topic – sustainability. Jacobs Engineering’s 2010 Sustainability Report weighs in at a hefty 120 pages
There is room for improvement in how these EPC companies are using marketing content. However, what they are doing is producing results. So it’s tough to make a compelling business case for them to adopt the new rules of content marketing that are used by many technology companies.
Like the old Texas adage says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
That’s my take on why these engineering companies are so successful in driving customer action while breaking the rules of content marketing.