Engineers love a challenge and solving problems. They are always on the lookout for gaining knowledge from their peers. They trust and have more confidence in reading or hearing something from other engineers. One engineer to another is a far more powerful tool than sales messaging when it comes to building trust and establishing thought leadership.
However, engineers and technical buyers don’t easily change processes that are working well unless you can convince them they may have a problem that they are not aware of and/or you have a better, more efficient way of doing something that they have been doing for many years.
There is a two-fold challenge here. First, you have to bring attention to real-world technical problems and not something that you’ve cooked up to sell your solution. Second, engineers are trained to be skeptical and demand proof of concept before they’ll buy your solution.
Establishing this level of trust and confidence has 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 experience with your proven track record of solving difficult 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.
Here are some key findings from the study “What’s on the Mind of the Engineer?” – A Global Research Study produced by Beacon Technology Partners, LLC and UBM Tech Electronics Network.
- Solving problems that haven’t been solved before – this solution orientation pervades everything an engineer thinks or does
- The #1 concern among all engineers regardless of their experience is keeping their skills current and their technology knowledge up to date
- Engineers are eager consumers of information regardless of level of experience because of this need to stay current
- Engineers communicate with and trust other engineers. Marketing must leverage this collaborative ethos without wasting the engineer’s valuable time with content noise
I have found industrial blogging to be very effective in bringing to the forefront the knowledge and expertise that are inherent in most if not all industrial companies. The challenge is in putting this domain knowledge in front of your customers (engineers) early in their buying cycle when they are in their Awareness & Research phase.
Many manufacturers and industrial companies have started blogs with a great deal of enthusiasm only for them to die a slow death because of the time needed in writing, optimizing and promoting blog posts. Asking in-house Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), who are usually engineers, to take time away from their primary jobs to write blog posts isn’t going to work.
That’s where an in-house marketing department or an outside industrial marketing consultant can be a big help. The heavy lifting can be done by marketing and letting SMEs approve blog posts before publishing. Something that I have learned over the years while writing industrial blog posts for my clients is developing a unique voice. This takes time and an insider’s knowledge especially if you are an outside expert. This is important to keep in mind because the posts must not only be technically accurate but must also keep the SMEs in the forefront and marketing in the background. Otherwise it is easy to slip into creating marketing fluff without realizing it.
If you want more insights on how not to take away engineers from what they do best, I suggest you read my earlier posts, Industrial Blogging Lessons Learned from Working with Technical SMEs and How to Coax Content Out of Engineers.
Here’s another challenge of industrial blogging – passive reading of posts will not help you generate qualified leads that turn into sales opportunities. You have to develop strong and specific calls to action for each post. These can be deep linking to applicable products mentioned within the body of posts and/or creating landing pages with valuable content offers. My point is that blogging is just one piece of the industrial content marketing puzzle. You need to develop effective lead nurturing content to support your blogging efforts. A User Forum where engineers interact with each other directly is another invaluable marketing tool but it requires more time than blogging to build, moderate and keep it active.
Those are my insights on industrial blogging that I’ve gained from my hands-on experience working with engineering and technical clients. How do you use industrial blogging in your marketing?