Marketing engineering services is very different from marketing industrial products. The biggest difference is that you are selling an intangible concept as versus a physical product. The final deliverable in engineering services may be a written report but it is still not the same as selling a motor or a pump.
I have run across hybrid situations where the manufacturer sells custom-engineered products. These are not standard off the shelf widgets but require significant amount of engineering consulting upfront before producing the final product.
In this post, I’ll stick with marketing pure engineering services such as Soil and Groundwater Investigation/Remediation; Engineering Feasibility Studies and Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) Audits to name a few.
Traditionally, engineering services firms have relied on referrals, professional networking and event sponsorships to grow their business. Referral business is great but they are usually few and far between for a dependable growth strategy. Networking and sponsorships are time consuming and expensive.
Let’s say you’ve perfected your marketing message into a concise 30-second elevator pitch and you’ve become good at delivering it to strangers you meet at professional events. Assume you’ve managed to pique their interest, which is no small feat. Guess what, they are going to check out your website when they get back to the office. The content on your site will make or break that first impression.
How relevant content addresses the challenges of marketing engineering services
Digital content marketing for engineering services companies is perfect for putting your knowledge and expertise in front of your target audience when and where they are searching.
Unlike product features and benefits, in engineering services, the primary marketing message is built on a foundation of your engineering qualifications, professional certifications and industry experience.
Customer-centric content should highlight how you use/have used your engineering expertise to solve real-world problems. Your reputation for solving these particular industry problems becomes your key differentiator and competitive advantage. (See Content Can Differentiate Industrial Companies When There’s Parity in Value Propositions).
Over time, content marketing earns you credibility, establishes thought leadership and most importantly builds trust. Your online content if done well will allow your target audience to sample your expertise for free before they sign a big dollar contract with you. Call it branding for you or your engineering services firm if you prefer.
Fluffy marketing content won’t convince an engineering audience. You have to win their mindshare with proof of concept. This is critical to being invited to make your in-person presentation in front of the committee of various stakeholders before they agree to retain your engineering services.
Expectations from content marketing for engineering services
I have seen engineering companies in a rush to jump into implementing content marketing. They have this distorted idea that just publishing more content is content marketing. It is not!
From my experience working with engineering firms, I can tell you that a badly planned strategy will probably lead to wasted time, money and poor results because of trial and error. Spend the time to develop your content marketing strategy before implementation. The strategy should be based on your sales process and not a cookie-cutter content marketing strategy.
Don’t try to do it all on your own. Make a realistic evaluation of your available time and resources to make a sound business decision about what you can handle in-house and where outsourced engineering content marketing expertise will provide a better value.
Don’t expect to close the sale or generate RFPs right after someone visits your site or instant success to meet your short-term sales goals.
Do expect your digital marketing to set the table for more productive face-to-face presentations, build your reputation (thought leadership) and create stronger professional relationships based on trust.
Bonus tip: Combine your online digital marketing strategy with traditional tactics such presenting at industry symposiums and publishing technical articles in trade journals. This will provide a powerful 1–2 punch for marketing your engineering services.