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5 Proven Ways to Market to Engineers

With one of the most popular trade show and conferences in the science and engineering space, NIWeek, coming up next week here in Austin, we at TREW Marketing put together a list of five proven methods for marketing to a technical audience as well as market to engineers. With all those leads you’re going to get from the show, you now have to make sure you are set up to work them.

This is by no means an end-all, be-all list, but in our view, the “must-haves” in any technical marketing program.

1. Engineers + Google = Love

2. Webcasts – a win-win for all

3. Timely, accurate technical content

4. Engineers like pictures too

5. Your customers say it all

After you read the post, be sure to VOTE on the type of marketing you’ve found most effective to reaching engineers and scientists.

1. Engineers + Google = Love. Numerous studies from trade journals and engineering-centric companies how shown time and again that they primary way engineers find information and seek answers to problems is through search engines. Engineers rely heavily upon search engines because they are the fastest and most convenient ways to seek specific information. From learning about a new standard affecting their design to seeking possible system-level component solutions, engineers are using search engines throughout the development process to find the information and products they need. So, what can you do to ensure your products and services are easily and precisely found on search engines?

  • Create a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan.  Set goals for your presence on search engines and identify keywords you want to own.
  • Optimize your website for search.  This includes organizing your site around the desired search terms, programmatic changes such as page titles and metatagging, and “look at me” submissions to major search engines.
  • Purchase targeted, uncrowded search terms (e.g., Google Adwords). Start with Google, which owns a commanding 65% of search market share, and Yahoo, which is strong in areas such as local search, but pay attention to the active search engine industry battles, such as Microsoft’s new Bing engine that is taking Google head-on.
  • Monitor your results frequently — your competition might be quick to respond and before you know it, your rank or ad placement may have weakened.

If done thoughtfully and monitored regularly, natural search engine optimization and paid advertising can be a powerful, efficient lead generator for your business.

2. Webcasts – a win-win.  It is no wonder that webcasts have exploded in popularity among the engineering community over the past decade – companies, trade magazines, and event trade show organizers now offer them as another venue for engineers to gather information.  And it’s obvious why – they are win-win for the end-user and the organizations. For users, webcasts are convenient – engineers can “attend” right from their desk or as a team in a conference room.  They are accessible – engineers just log in and are immediately listening, and void of the burdensome in-person social encounter or phone call with sales departments that some engineers would rather avoid.  And they can be interactive – webcast hosts often offer Q&A opportunities during the event.

For you, the webcast host, the benefits are also many: online events are highly cost effective when compared to physical events, the reach is broader, and while the live webcast is interactive, the session can be archived on your website and used as a lead generator for months to come.  Software demonstrations and videos of hardware/systems (even remote control of systems) can be achieved on any of the major webcast tools available today, reducing the need for costly demo equipment and shipping. Webcasts work best when part of an integrated marketing campaign.  For example, they can be a strong follow up action for people who attended your booth at NIWeek or another trade show, or a dynamic way to “demo” a feature of your product to prospects who’ve shown interest from a previous activity.

3. Timely, accurate technical content. Earlier, we talked about engineers’ preference to seek out their own information, and that search engines are hands-down the primary means they use to find this content. But what are they seeking? Most of the time, engineers and scientists are researching specific product or service types, product features, specifications, how-to articles, etc. (they are also seeking examples from  others who have done their application before, which we talk about in #5 below).

Therefore, it is critical that you provide timely, accurate information about your products and services, including tested and reliable specifications, comparison charts, and visual graphs showing a variety of performance results. Technical content can also focus on trends in certain industries or applications, or can detail tips and techniques for solving certain technical challenges. Here are some nice examples to review and get ideas. By providing this kind of content, you can become a technical resource for your customers and prospects, increasing customer loyalty as well as your chances of converting prospects when they are ready to buy.

As a sidenote, because technical content is very high-quality and of high value to engineers, you can turn this type of content into a lead-generating area of your website as well and have on-hand at your show booth. So you not only provide quality information, but you also help your SEO and generate leads.

4. Engineers like pictures too. I know this comes as a surprise, but engineers and scientists are human too…they like to look at pictures just like the rest of the us. As Dan Roam explains in his book, “Back of the Napkin“, pictures are the best way to communicate and therefore the best for solving problems. As a result, you can greatly improve the readability and comprehension of your technical content by having interesting images accompany your technical content. This can come in the form of photos of application shots, product shots up close or in action, graphs or charts showing performance levels or time-based results, flow charts explaining a system or process (such as the one below showing the process that is followed to wake up in the morning), tables, or even a video.

As I have said before in this blog, and will continue to say, interesting, relevant and high quality images, such as those listed above, can turn everyday content into great content by adding dynamic imagery to help education and explain your topic.

5. Your customers say it all. As with any type of purchase, the opinions and experiences of our friends and colleagues weigh heavily on our own purchase decisions. Except for a small few who want to be first to try the newest thing (the left side of the bell curve image below), most people, and especially engineers and scientists working in critical application areas with very little room for error, prefer products and services that are tried and proven. As Geoffrey Moore outlined in his book, Crossing the Chasm, for the early majority who represent the beginning of the mainstream market, “good references are critical to their buying decisions.”

A good reference can be a simple quote from a well-known company or a detailed case study covering the technical challenges of the application, how it was solved, and the qualitative and quantitative benefits that the new system or service delivered.

By focusing on these five methods of marketing consistently and over the long-term, you will be on your way to building a robust marketing program that engineers and scientists will find valuable, and ultimately, will respond to.