- November 04, 2013, Stephanie Millman
Developing marketing communications messages for industrial manufacturing engineers is different from other demographics. But not that different.
For years, marketers in the industrial manufacturing world have debated about how to best communicate their product/service information their primary target; engineers. The most argued position is that an engineer “wants product information presented to them as simple clear facts” and that clever or tricky marketing design concepts are “a put-off” or “make our company look silly”. The point of this side of the debate is that the engineer is so left-brained and logical that they would not engage in an entertaining design concept (whether print, online, direct mail, or trade show messages) to communicate a market message. This position didn’t make sense to me. Why would the engineers in this industry be so different from other industries? I had to figure this out, so I did a bunch of research.
What became evident is that the position of how to market was extracted from history. Manufacturers had become accustomed to ‘marketing’ to engineers by delivering extensive product catalogs and showing product information at every communication point. I was there in early 2000 looking at different advertisements, trade show signs, and direct mail pieces and consistently seeing a bland sea of blue, black, and grey machines and components photos with small font in bullet points listing features. No one stood out. Engineers absolutely need product specifications to do their job, and the primary responsibility of marketing is to engage them in the first place so in the past, details about equipment were used at every communication point because it was more challenging to gather details. Now that engineers can access extensive product information with keyword search whenever they want, the requirements of marketing is much more expansive. The objective of marketing is basically two-fold.
First, you must get the engineer’s attention (most likely by using an entertaining design concept) and deliver a primary message that ties them to understanding your brand attributes. That way, when they do their keyword searches in their hunt to specify products, they will subconsciously think, “Oh, that’s a good/familiar brand”… and off they go into the sales cycle. Why would they consider your company if they are completely unfamiliar with your brand? Your next job as a marketer is to give them the details when they engage with your brand. Optimize your website and plug all kinds of online directories and search engines with links and information to get your website found. Arm your inside and outside sales people with tools to provide details. Don’t confuse the message by trying to dump the details into the advertisement. Keep only a primary message in the ad, and then provide all of the detail in web/product material.
The marketing process was much more single-focused in the past, as it was a point where customers collected data in addition to retain your brand message. But the Internet has changed things, and that is why the debate remains. Both positions are critical and necessary. If your organization is only focused on the data entry part, you are missing out on the biggest opportunity to gain (or even maintain) market share. If you can drop the debate and take on a strategy of brand marketing supported by a dedication to provide easy-to-find product and support information online, then you are properly marketing to the engineer.