Reaching an audience as highly skilled and technically oriented as engineers requires not only a deep knowledge of technology, but also a thorough understanding of the audience’s motivation. Engineers are sophisticated users of online resources. They can be quickly turned off to what they see as promotion or fluff, and they demand authentic, practical information. What’s on their minds? Is it cost or quality? Performance or standards compliance? End user acceptance or ease of use? All of the above?
Nailing those drivers is the key to success in marketing to this complex and multifaceted audience.
The more exhaustive, the better. That means product information, reviews and specs. Application notes. White papers and trade publication articles. They want to see charts and graphs, performance data and hard information. Social media, not so much. Blog posts, forums, apps and infographics are their least favorite types of content. But that may be changing a little (see Point No. 3). And, as for trade shows, more than half of these professionals say they have not gone to one within the past year.
Engineers are expected to meet deadlines, cut pricing, design for manufacturability and get their products to market faster. Yet, they’re still on the hook for product reliability: According to one survey, 44 percent say the pressure to meet deadlines is putting product quality and reliability at risk.
One design engineer we interviewed told us that he deals with more than 2,000 suppliers.
And, these engineers worry about keeping up with all the new technologies and products – everything from the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), to cybersecurity, to augmented reality, to robotics, to additive or 3D manufacturing.
More than 60 percent of the audience is over 50, according a recent survey, (we commissioned primary research from Feedback, a Richmond, Virginia-based firm that specializes in ethnographic research into specific audiences.) And less than 20 percent of the design engineer audience is under 40. Over 40 percent say their companies are losing specialized knowledge and expertise faster than they gain it. And, less than half say their companies have practices in place to capture and retain that knowledge.
The younger engineers coming up through the ranks are slightly more likely to use a mobile device or view a video, podcast or webinar than their older colleagues. But, it’s not a huge sea change: It is, after all, still tough to read a data sheet on a three-inch screen.
No longer does one engineer specify or authorize a purchase. More and more, engineers are buying as part of a team. And, that team grows larger every year. In addition to other engineers, it might include representatives from marketing, R&D, manufacturing and sales for an OEM.
There might be a technical committee involved with specifications or a commercial committee in charge of negotiating contracts – in other words, squeezing their suppliers on price and delivery.
Despite the pressures and frustrations of their jobs, 84 percent would recommend their profession to a friend or child. Seventy-four percent feel appreciated and respected and 71 percent think engineering is a respected profession.
On the negative side, 24 percent are actively seeking another job and 20 percent are concerned with job security.
Learn more about building a persona for the engineer. Download our free essential guide about Marketing-to-Engineers.