Marketing to engineers is challenging, but manufacturers, distributors and engineering services companies cannot shy away from it because engineers make up the bulk of their target audience.
Engineers regardless of their experience are concerned with keeping their skills current and their technology knowledge up to date. They are actively looking for reliable information about advancements and innovations. This extends beyond content marketing for engineers; many of these industrial professionals are motivated to attend trade shows and conferences to learn about something they don’t know. (See Why Manufacturers Need a Multichannel Industrial Marketing Strategy).
The irony is that engineers are hungry for information, but industrial marketers are struggling to provide them the right content and engage with them in a meaningful way. Marketing people at these companies need to work with in-house Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for creating content that their target audience will find helpful and is technically accurate.
There are two key challenges when it comes to marketing to engineers with content – time and trust.
Engineers are time challenged
52% of engineers said the pace of engineering is accelerating, and 57% said they are asked to do more with less (Source: IHS Engineering360 survey).
Engineers are very busy and marketing people must understand this time crunch if they want to engage with this audience. Don’t waste their time with unsubstantiated claims and sales pitches disguised as content. Go beyond features and benefits. Your marketing content must convince engineers that you understand their applications/problems and prove that you can help them do their jobs quicker and better.
Content that builds trust and credibility with engineers
It’s a myth that engineers make buying decisions only with logical left brain thinking. There is also a powerful emotional right brain component at play. The overriding emotion is the fear of failure. For engineers, failure is not an option because the consequences can be catastrophic.
Earn their trust and build your credibility with content that is truthful and demonstrates the value you provide. This will help them logically justify their choice that is based on the emotion of fear.
Leverage the power of one engineer to another
Establishing a high level of trust and gaining the engineer’s confidence have become even more important today because older engineers with buying authority (your customers) are fast approaching retirement. Younger engineers who do not have the same first-hand experience with your proven track record of solving engineering problems are usually tasked with doing the initial research and building a shortlist of vendors. You may not make the cut if you don’t win their mindshare and trust. You cannot afford to rest on your past successes.
“Reliance on interaction with fellow engineers dwarfs other modes as the preferred method of communication for solving problems and gaining new insights.” (Source: A global research study produced by Beacon Technology Partners and UBM Tech Electronics Network).
Marketing must leverage this collaborative ethos without wasting the engineer’s valuable time with content noise. (See Winning the Engineer’s Mindshare with Industrial Blogging).
Based on my 25+ years of hands-on experience in marketing to engineers, the two key takeaways are:
- Provide content that is technically accurate, specific to engineers’ problems or applications and present it in a logical manner
- Keep your SMEs in the forefront (one engineer to another) and let marketing do the heavy lifting in the background