Why Is Engineering Marketing Such a Hard Sell to Engineers?

by Debra Andrews | May 27, 2020

Engineering firms are run by < drumroll > engineers and tend to communicate like < drumroll > engineers. What do these things mean exactly and, more relevant to this blog post, how do they impact engineering marketing?

Engineers don’t want to be bothered

The Myers-Briggs personality test calls the INTP (Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking and Perceiving) profile the “Engineer.” According to Personality Max,

“INTPs are easygoing yet private. They are logical and enjoy analyzing complex problems. They thrive on the theoretical and like to figure out how things work. They do not like rigid rules and often do not abide by them. They are independent intellectuals.”

Having worked for many engineering companies, including structural, forensic, mechanical, civil and environmental, I understand (very well) that engineers want to get their important work done and not worry about marketing which can be viewed as “fluffy.”

Historically, marketing departments could work in isolation, sending out direct mail pieces and brochures about their firms and services – and generally leaving the engineers alone. Today, that won’t work. Most B2B buyers proactively buy through online research instead of being sold to by kick-it old school methods.

Effective engineering marketing now requires that marketers work hand in hand with their engineering colleagues to create thought leadership around topics relevant to their buyers. However, marketers, especially those in professional services, need to understand the subject matter well to facilitate the process. For more information on this topic, check out Fixing the Top Challenge in Professional Services Marketing.

Engineers work with facts, not stories

A marketer’s touch on an engineer’s thought leadership is very important. Engineers tend to communicate about features, facts and figures. That works if a B2B company’s primary buyer is also an engineer, as INTPs tend to think alike. But, more often than not, highly technical information will overwhelm non-INTP potential buyers, go over their heads or bore them to tears.

Engineering firms need to connect their solutions to buyers’ challenges and earn the right to communicate in more technical terms. Engineering marketing can help, giving firms tools and strategies to tell better stories and translate tech mumbo jumbo into meaningful benefits.

Are technical details important? Absolutely! That said, the proper timing for offering highly technical information is critical to a successful sales cycle. Unless buyers are INTPs, they will likely not want to make the effort necessary to fully understand technical details until they are closer to purchase.

Simply put, don’t overwhelm the buyer with facts and figures too soon. It’s the equivalent of oversharing on a first date which will send your prospective customer running for the hills.

Engineers aren’t as concerned about appearances

Prospects will also look the other way if they come across an underwhelming or ugly brand and website. Digital appearances matter, especially when these encounters are first impressions. Engineers can nerd-out with personal fashion choices but need to care about the professionalism of their company’s brand, website and social platforms.

A website that is slow to load and/or looks like it was built a decade ago will communicate a lack of innovativeness. Since engineering is all about solving complex challenges through products and services, firms need to look the part.

Skilled engineering marketing can wow even the most skeptical INTP

B2B buyers have changed, and engineering marketing must as well. Engineers and marketers working together on thoughtful benefits-oriented communications is one big step forward. Being bold and moving towards a brand and digital make-over is another.

Let’s face it, engineering marketing will never be as sexy as accounting marketing or legal marketing (…kidding, of course), but it can work very well in helping firms to grow. And, as they watch measurable marketing results come in consistently, those logical, problem-solving INTPs will find a lot to appreciate!

Learn more about engineering marketing

We develop strategy for engineering firms to differentiate offerings, modernize marketing and sales functions, build market share and turn marketing into a profit center.  Learn about how Marketri partners with engineering firms by downloading our case studies.