Marketing to engineers: optimists and cynics?

If you are marketing to engineers, should the approach be the same as for consumer marketing?

Twenty first century engineering is not the “blue collar” trade of previous centuries. Today’s engineers are a highly educated elite, working in software, electronics, aerospace and similar industries. It is not surprising if they sometimes view marketing with scepticism. Marketers are often from other academic backgrounds, with a different outlook.

Marketing people are generally trained in the techniques used to promote fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). They use creative ideas, branding and bold propositions to communicate their marketing message in a succinct and eye-catching way. In consumer copywriting we are trained to “sell the sizzle, not the sausage”, but technical purchasers need more. They also need reliable facts, figures, test results and tolerances to make rational purchasing decisions.

There’s often a difference in communication styles too. Marketers like descriptive copy, while engineers tend to prefer bullet points. Long copy might just be “verbiage” to them.

Thinking about personalities, marketers may tend to be optimists – it’s useful in their role – while engineers, grounded in realism, know exactly how things work and may view marketing claims with cynicism.

This is where “marketing” and “engineering” are not always well aligned. A technical buyer can be irritated by loose sweeping statements and lack of factual detail from marketing people.

Good technical marketing

The classic consumer marketing approach may not be enough in technical marketing. If technical buyers are conducting a systematic review and evaluation, they will do careful comparisons, demonstrations and tests. They need data and details.

Good technical marketing should provide the right information, and provide it clearly, without wordy padding. This is crucial now, because most people research their purchases extensively online before they contact a salesperson, and it is frustrating for a prospective buyer if key facts are missing. Although vendors often deliberately omit leave one fact out, so that prospective customers will get in touch and start a conversation!

So, what makes good technical marketing?

The written English must be 100% correct. Your prospective technical customer will notice errors and will be turned off by sloppy grammar and faulty punctuation.

Graphic designers often want to make technical data and tables very small and difficult to read. Don’t allow this to happen!

Videos, case studies, calculators and free tools are useful – they all help technical buyers with their evaluations.

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