How to win the talent war in the Engineering sector
The engineer may enjoy the reputation as the smartest person at the party, but it’s the marketer who’s likely to be considered more fun. Silly stereotypes aside, engineering and marketing must work in tandem in order to solicit business and grow the company. Those who hire engineers don’t often do so haphazardly. Such decisions are instead based on trust, relationships, and credentials. While there are no cheap victories in the world of engineering, this does not mean that marketing is not vital to success. Engineering firms should heed the following five pieces of advice when planning their marketing and sales approach.
Know Thyself (and Those Thou Art Selling To)
Jack of all trades, master of none is not a credible position for engineers. Companies must ask themselves the tough questions: Who are we? What kind of business are we targeting? Who are their gatekeepers? What is their process? What are their pain points?
Gaining top of mind recognition and getting onto preferred vendors lists is key to success. Consider creating a document that specifically lists companies to target with marketing and sales efforts. Design support materials and your elevator pitch accordingly. If a new focus area evolves, update your approach.
Contribute to Engineering Thought Leadership
According to a CNBC piece a few years back, the source of 30% of expertise-based referrals is ‘I’ve heard them speak’, making it the number one factor.1 Blog posts or articles was second most prevalent, with 20%, followed by social media interactions and books authored by the expert.
In a high involvement category such as engineering, it makes sense that thought leadership is an outstanding way to gain exposure and build credibility.
Write a book, article, or blog. Speak publicly or guest on panels and podcasts. Share informational videos. All of this is easier said than done, of course, requiring both a sizable time commitment and a propensity for speaking and/or writing. If a prime candidate for such a role is identified within your firm, and if they’re able to make it a priority, then it can be an effective approach. Strive to toot your own horn a little and make it easy for your audience to follow up, but do so in a way that doesn’t come off as overly salesy.
Develop a Well-Rounded and Well-Executed Digital Presence
Interest attracted through thought leadership has no value if it doesn’t result in gained business. Your website should address the concerns of your potential clients, providing them a pain free process for getting the information they need and procuring your services.
Your site should be up to date and reflect your current focus. Content should provide value and be tailored for both humans and search engines.
Additional ways to stay top of mind include e-newsletters and, of course, social media. Pay-per-click can be a good way of finding new clientele. Today’s best digital campaigns are well-rounded, with each piece fitting into a carefully managed sales funnel.
Showcase Your Services with a Lunch and Learn
One direct approach to showcasing expertise and demonstrating fit with a company you’d like to have a relationship with is the ‘lunch and learn’. Engineering firms can use these low pressure lunchtime gatherings to present themselves to clients in a relaxed atmosphere.
It’s important to do your homework first. If your services offered don’t align with your prospects’ model, then you’ve wasted their time and yours.
It should go without saying that you’ll want your presentation to be well executed; it should provide value but without the hard sell. Be ready to answer questions and provide the client with support materials to recap your abilities.
Part of the execution is logistical. Would the prospect prefer to host you in their office or visit yours? It will be your responsibility to provide not only the learning, but the lunch, so inquire about dietary requirements. Since different companies have different work arrangements, it’s important to determine if an in-person, digital, or hybrid presentation makes the most sense.
Nail Your Engineering Portfolio
No matter what type of engineering your company does, in order to be taken seriously you’ll need a portfolio that is as great as you are.
Seeing is believing, so pictures, videos, and/or demonstrations will be the star of the show. Ensure quality!
And it doesn’t stop there. Put yourself in the shoes of the client and use brief but well crafted copy to position your company as competent, trustworthy problem solvers. For each project, describe the task at hand, your approach, and the result. When selling yourself, think benefits AND features; quality of work, reliability, service, etc.
Make your portfolio easy to find and simple to navigate. Would an interactive component be feasible? Think outside the box.
Ensure that your portfolio reflects the type of work you’re seeking, and demonstrates your true capabilities, both in terms of style and scope. Don’t under or oversell yourself.
The best way for an engineering firm to stay busy is to have a decorated past, an abundance of great relationships, and a sterling reputation. These are not willed into existence, but earned over time. Unlike some other categories, engineers cannot market themselves into long term success with flashy campaigns. Success will come to those who can spread the word and then consistently deliver.