Let’s be honest, engineering marketing is a headache. The kind that doesn’t go away after you’ve taken pain killers. But, while challenging, it’s also necessary. Having previously worked on the front line as a Technical Sales Manager, and a Technical Marketing Manager too, I feel like I know a thing or two about this subject. Let’s dig into it:

Marketing for engineers is quite often at the bottom of the list in an Engineering Manager’s day, but nevertheless it needs to be done, so why not do it well and reap the rewards? I’ve worked for companies at both ends of the engineering marketing spectrum; one who invested heavily into their website and digital marketing for their sales team; another who simply gave their sales team samples and a catalogue, told them to hit the road and thought nothing more about it.

I can tell you with absolute confidence that, both then and now, the company that takes their engineering marketing seriously is the company that will come out on top every time.

Imagine sending your sales team out to warm leads, where most of the selling has already been done by your website and marketing material. Instead of turning up to a cold lead, they’ll basically be there to guide the buyer with the purchase – it’s really that powerful.

Engineering Sales Team

Marketing in the engineering sector isn’t like other sectors; it’s not like selling trendy clothing or tools to the DIY trade, where the end user knows what they’re looking for. Engineering is far less tangible than that, which can make the marketing hard. But, equally, the rewards are far higher than other industries, with much greater profit margins when you get it right.

Engineering, in general, has always had a strong word-of-mouth approach to selling, where your customers and/or suppliers refer you to one of their contacts. Back in the day, we all had our own specialism which made it easy for people to refer and recommend us. But, with modern versatile tooling it’s a lot easier nowadays to adapt your skills to another market and skill altogether, so you have far more competition than you ever dreamed possible in the past.

CNC Machining

Basically, now more than ever we need to be promoting our own company and specialisms with engineering marketing, rather than hoping someone else will do it for us.

“But we’re engineers, we’re not into that new digital marketing technology, so why should we bother?”

I can hear it being said now from certain companies I know of!

There are lots of reasons to bother with marketing and, if for no other reason, your competitors are getting into it right now and getting ahead of you. And I’m not just talking about the competitors in the same town as you, I’m talking about competitors across the country, across Europe and across the world. Competitors you probably don’t even know of yet, but they are there and they are marketing into your sector and customers as we speak.

Let’s talk about trade exhibitions for a minute. A popular choice in the engineering industry, we often see engineering companies, tying up their marketing spend in one or two trade shows every year, which is not a good idea! What happens every other day of the year? If attending trade fairs is part of your complete marketing strategy then I applaud you, but if it is their only engineering marketing strategy then I fear for them.

Trade Exhibition

Engineering companies are typically located on industrial estates, the doors are usually locked and there’s no way of looking through the windows. Even if there were windows, what passing traffic do we have to peer in through them? We, more than most other industries, need to create ourselves a virtual window – to show what goes on behind our closed doors and attract new customers in. But equally, we need to make sure our current customers are fully aware of what our capabilities are. How often do we hear that our favourite customer goes down the road for one of the services we too could be providing?

So, where do you start with engineering marketing?

I’m going to break this up into two posts – the first part where we’re gearing up for marketing is here, then the second part where we actually get on with the marketing will follow on. 

Step 1

The first place to start with engineering marketing is to understand what we are trying to achieve, and the advantages it may bring to us if we get it right. Because unless there’s a significant advantage to you, then why would you spend time and money doing it? Have a think about what you want to achieve from your marketing, here’s some inspiration:

  • To keep your position within the market
  • To expand and grow within your current market
  • To increase profit and turnover
  • To cross over into a new market
  • To win more profitable work
  • To gain higher calibre projects and clients
  • To gar your business up ready to sell
  • To increase the productive working hours of your machine tools

Now, this list could go on forever, but make sure you know where your end target is and what it will bring to you and your company.

Step 2

Okay, so once you’ve identified what you want to achieve with your marketing, it’s time to move onto the next stage. Start identifying who you’re going to target with your adverts. There’s absolutely no point in marketing to everybody, as most people won’t have a need for what you produce, but you can start by asking yourself the following questions and building up a profile or avatar of the company, and person within the company, you want to market to:

  • What type of companies would be interested in your capabilities or products?
  • What type of companies do you want to work with? (with digital marketing you can be choosy!)
  • Who within those companies would make the decisions?
  • What job title would they have?
  • What are their day to day challenges that you could fix?
  • Where would they be most likely to go online? Maybe they use LinkedIn or Google, maybe Facebook, maybe exhibition websites… The list is endless.
  • Who are your current favourite customers and why? (you might be able to find others just like them)
  • Are there any crossover markets you’d be interested in working in?
Build Your Customer Profile
Check out our post on creating a client avatar here!

Step 3

 By now, you’re nearly at the point where you can start building up a plan, or strategy, of how you’re going to target these people. But, you need to realise that any engineering marketing activity will almost always drive new visitors to your website, so how’s yours looking right now? What does it say about you as a company? If your answer to that is “It looks okay”, then you need to improve it until it looks great.

Your website will help form the first impression of you, it’s likely it’ll be the only impression in the viewers mind so it’s imperative that you get it right.

One way of tackling this, is to get an independent review of your website from three different marketing companies. Make it clear from the start that you want to pay for the review, and no matter what they say it will not result in them gaining work from you. This way you’ll get more of an honest review of your site, and everyone knows where they stand from the start.

Never ask colleagues, friends and/or family to do this for you, as they’ll just tell you what you want to hear, trust me.

If your website is clean, modern and truly reflects your company, then proceed to step 4. But don’t be tempted to go to step 4 without taking step 3 seriously, otherwise you’ll be back here in no time at all having wasted good money on pointless marketing.

Okay, so by now you know why you’re entering into engineering marketing, you know the type of customers you want to attract, and who within them would most likely be the person to place the first order with you. You’ve also had your website independently checked and you’ve carried out the recommendations suggested.

You’re good to go!

Step 4

 This step is to look at the marketing tools available to engineers and how to select the right ones for your company, as well as how to set them up and measure their performance.

I think this is a good place to stop for now, we’ll be covering all of the above and more in our next insight, so be sure to come back and take a look.

If you would like to ask any questions or need any help with engineering marketing then be sure to get in touch.