Marketing for manufacturers is a niche skill. Not only does the subject matter require specialized knowledge, but technical inaccuracies could prove fatal to your brand when communicating with knowledgeable and seasoned customers.
To help accomplish their goals, manufacturing marketing professionals often rely on their internal technical teams’ insights to develop intelligent, rich, and relevant marketing touchpoints and campaigns that resonate with their customer base.
Well-crafted B2B marketing should point customers to the correct solutions that address pain points from the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. With their in-depth understanding of the customer and products, engineering talent can provide a wealth of knowledge into the customer mindset. As such, engineers are an excellent resource for marketers to tap into when devising impactful messaging.
In our article about crafting brand-centric sustainability messaging, we discussed creating a committee of team members across departments to receive a diverse range of perspectives to shape messaging.
The same principle applies to everyday marketing efforts. Different teams in organizations have different insights into customer needs and pain points that they engage with. The one deviant from the “sustainability committee” which focuses on a corporate responsibility viewpoint, is that when you are turning the focus to products or services, it is wise to devise an internal team with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) background – our friends of Engineering.
With these relationships established, marketers gain access to a pipeline of knowledge they can tap into to uncover nuggets of information from the engineer’s experience that can shape future initiatives. Due to their breadth of experience, expert-level engineers can help marketers pinpoint patterns and identify shifts in industry trends that help guide the continuous improvement of not only your company’s products but also your marketing campaigns.
When asked to contribute to marketing efforts, some engineers may come in kicking and screaming, but when they get a chance to see the fruits of their efforts, they eventually realize that participation in the marketing process can be fulfilling and profitable to the business at large. Robin Saitz, former CMO of Brainshark and current CMO of Plex Systems, validates this thought process. A mechanical engineer by education, she echoes the “natural extension” her shift to marketing was in an interview with Forbes:1
“I get great fulfillment out of helping create solutions or helping the company solve the problems that the customers have. Marketing is a natural extension.”
The “natural extension” of engineering and product development is an important point to make. And, while it may bring more people to the table and make the process more involved, this fact couldn’t be more true! Great OEM marketing fully embraces their engineering cohorts.
Continued Reading: The Engineer CMO
In our 20+ years working with manufacturers, we continue to see signs that engineers are not only an important part of content creation but also a critical part of the overall marketing strategy’s direction and accuracy.
“My customer has X problem. What’s the solution?”
Each day, as marketers, we ask this foundational question. After all, in a saturated and competitive market that manufacturers often find themselves in, it seems anyone can provide a product. But can they provide the best solution? More importantly, can they provide a solution that customers will return to?
Because engineers are in constant communication with those in the field, they gather valuable insight such as competitive intel, product failures and even lost sales reports to drive product development and enhancements. Therefore, they are qualified to help uncover the information required to answer these questions. These value propositions enable your company to uniquely position itself, move forward, and most importantly, stand out.
It’s the marketer's job to broadcast the value of the product to buyers. But we can promise you, beginning that journey by sitting down and investing the time in conducting SME interviews with your engineering team will always uncover the most earthshattering and clarifying facts that will make your marketing responsibilities so much easier to achieve – not to mention the knowledge you will personally gain to strengthen your product and industry awareness.
Like it or not, data-driven decision-making is here to stay. As connected technologies have made data an integral part of all roles within a company, engineers across industries are leveraging data to back up decision-making, establish and optimize processes and develop new-and-improved product features that meet or exceed customer needs.
With processes fueled by data, engineers don’t often do anything without logic or reason. Many engineering teams often employ data analysis roles to sort industry and economic trends, market share, competitor units sold and more to ensure logical movement on product development and acquisitions.
So how does the engineering trend of using and analyzing data translate into a useful trait that aids manufacturing marketing teams? When developing a marketing plan, successful marketing management will start with marketing research. Cross-referencing any marketing intelligence or data with the engineering team’s analysis is key to benchmarking internal business goals and objectives. Are your prospective trends and projections aligned? If so, great. If not, then debate or continue to dive deeper until questions are solved and tracks align. After all, it is the data that drives each department down the correct path.
Continued Reading: A Content Goldmine Hiding In Plain Sight
Great ideas reside in the brains of your expert-level employees, especially your engineering team. As marketers, the trick is learning how to facilitate conversations that tap into that expertise and translate the “technical talk” into impactful marketing assets that resonate with potential customers.
We’ll go more in-depth into how to best facilitate these conversations with engineering in the next installment of this blog series, but here are a few teasers to whet your appetite:
A study found that engineers themselves develop a 75% higher trust value than when their engineering peers author content.
Manufacturers are a knowledgeable audience. As marketers, you’re often advertising to industry veterans, individuals with advanced degrees or second or third-generation business owners that know their stuff. Producing content that will not only provide a unique perspective but also be worth their time to read is key to showcasing your company’s value. A study found that engineers themselves develop a 75% higher trust value than when their engineering peers author content.2
With this in mind, engaging your engineers in marketing strategy and content creation should be a no-brainer. Their input will help your team create high-quality, technical content that “speaks their language,” demonstrates your understanding of market challenges, and validates your company’s solution in the eyes of the customer.
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