Great Content: The cure for the engineer’s marketing allergy

Content Allergy

How to speak that engineer marketing language

The first rule of marketing is know your audience. Find out what they want. Connect with them and show them how you will solve their problem like no one else. Reach your audience on a personal level. Get in their head.

Yet, for right-brained marketing creatives, getting inside the head of analytical engineers is like getting in the head of a calculator: challenging to impossible. To market to engineers, you must think like an engineer and speak their language. This leaves some marketers at a loss, running with fluffy, feel-good messages that ultimately fall flat or come off as less-than-credible.

When selling your technical product, your customer’s engineering team is comprised of critical decision influencers if not THE prime decision maker. No matter who ultimately ends up pulling the trigger, you need the engineers to buy-in if you want to grow your sales. Engineers play a vital role in the sales process—you’ve got to reach, connect and influence them to close the deal.

So, how the heck do you speak to engineers on their level? What makes an engineer tick?

Inside the head of an engineer

Engineers really are a different breed. The usual stereotype of a stubborn, analytical introvert probably comes to mind. While this picture may hold a grain of truth in certain cases, it’s important to let go of stereotypes and understand what really appeals to the mind (and heart) of an engineer.

You see, engineers undergo an extremely rigorous academic curriculum and their jobs demand they pay strong attention to detail. The adage “measure twice, cut once” refers to this trait. Engineers are even more valuable to their organizations for how they think, just as much as the skills they bring to the table.

But despite this specific way of detailed thinking, most engineers are extremely humble and even insecure about what they don’t know. Most are also self-aware enough to realize how much they don’t know. Engineers primarily rely on their own perspectives to make decisions, but they also know there is likely someone outside their immediate area of expertise (read: knowledgeable salesperson) who will further educate them about a product. That’s where YOU come in.

Appealing to engineers is key to marketing in the technical world

It’s the rigorous attention to detail and calculated decision-making that makes engineers so valuable during their company’s purchasing process. While typically not the final decision maker, 69% of engineers provide input into the buying decision, making a huge impact when it comes to closing a sale.

Clearly, winning this group of influencers for a technical product purchase is critical. But how do you market to engineers?

Being measured decision makers means engineers are naturally skeptical. They’re taught to question every message they hear and compare it with their own experience and knowledge. This careful way of thinking leads to innovation and progress—where engineers really excel!

Because of their skepticism, traditional marketing and advertising are unlikely to work with this consumer group. They rely on their acquired method of thinking, research and judgment to filter out irrelevant preliminary options before calling in the expert. Engineers don’t commit to buy until they’re completely comfortable with their understanding of a product. To appeal to technical experts, marketing itself must adapt and offer what the engineer craves the most: information-packed, relevant content.

The 2017 Smart Marketing for Engineers Research Report sheds light on engineers’ methods of learning about a product. Over 90% of engineers said they’re more likely to partner with a vendor who produces new and current content. Why? Because engineers love to be informed.

They want to learn before they commit to the purchase.

This means engineers do their research. They spend time reading up on your product, knowing the specs and compatibility with current equipment and understanding exactly how it works, often BEFORE they’re in your purview. If an engineer contacts you? Well, you know he or she has already done their homework.

Where do engineers go to research before they buy? The top 5 sources they turn to are:

Content Source % Surveyed Engineers’ Usage
Search Engines 43%
Supplier/vendor websites 37%
Online technical and trade publications 29%
Trade Shows 28%
Printed technical and trade publications 27%

From the table above, it’s clear that engineers prefer easy-to-access, powerful, informative technical information. Furthermore, 3 of the top 5 content sources are digital, signaling that engineers value convenience and expedience in accessing information.

After consuming enough content to provide sufficient confidence in the final few options, an engineer is happy to engage with a product expert. Though confident in their ability to sift the product offerings down, they seek affirmation to ensure the recommendation or purchase is the best choice. If they receive this validation, the salesperson will gain the engineer’s unwavering brand loyalty. Backed by individual research and external validation, engineers see no sensible need to conduct the exhaustive research effort again. When they’re ready to buy, they don’t hesitate.

When engineers are presented with direct, succinct and logical information, they’re ready to buy and the confidence they need to converge on a buying decision increases dramatically.

Valuable Content Chart

Engineers are willing to spend time reading mid- to long-form content, like case studies, e-books, books and whitepapers. How-to videos are also a great way to appeal to engineers, especially for those engineers between 25 and 35 years old.

Driven by logic, engineers use the power of information to educate themselves about a buying decision. Due to their pragmatic method of thinking, the input provided by engineers is sought out and highly valued by final decision maker. Developing marketing strategies to target this unique influential group is critical to success. If you want to sell a technical product, you should be marketing to engineers.

Engineers want and expect informative content. The data shows investing in well-researched, carefully crafted, long-form content has a high likelihood of return when targeted at engineers. Instead of traditional marketing methods with flash, humor and emotional appeals, engineers need a more technical marketing meal.

Engineers also tend to stick with solutions that work. Rather than reinventing the wheel, they’re busy working bigger and better inventions. For you, this means that when you’ve won over an engineer, you’ve got a customer who will stick with you for the long haul. Business owners are smart to reach out to this technical audience to win the race for their initial and repeated brand loyalty.

So, the real question is:

How much informative and educational content is your company providing to appeal to your engineering targets? Time to get started creating better content for engineers. First step, develop your content marketing strategy. Let’s chat

Don’t assume you “know” what motivates your target audience

audience personas

Tough questions about content marketing

Are your buyer personas based on research – or guesses? You need data PLUS observations to formulate accurate personas. Don’t assume you “know” what motivates your target audience, or you could waste a lot of time and money creating content that doesn’t resonate with their needs!

Learn how our exclusive Growth Cycle Marketing process can help you focus on customer needs and generate more sales from every stage of the buying cycle.

Marketers: Why are your sales flatlining?

sales flatlining

Why aren’t traditional sales approaches working as well today? A growing body of research sheds some light on what has changed.

It used to be so easy: Generate sales leads, work the pipeline, overcome objections and close sales.

Now, everything is different. It’s much harder for your salespeople to get face-to-face appointments. Prospects want to do their own research and product comparisons. They don’t want to talk to you until just before the sale. As a result, sales are stagnant.

Your company needs growth – now.

What the latest sales and marketing research says

flatlining salesResearch from CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council and Google shows that business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57% of the purchase process is complete. That means for nearly two thirds of the buying process, they are forming opinions, gathering technical specifications, building requirement lists, and narrowing down their vendor options – with little or no influence from you.

Why is this a problem? By the time a prospect makes contact with your company, “they have hardened expectations about what they want out of a supplier – and at that point, your job is to take their order and fill it for the lowest price. They’re learning on their own, and there’s no room to teach them why what they’ve taught themselves is wrong. It’s marketing’s job to influence the 57% of the sale that occurs mostly on the web, before sales contact,” the report adds.

As a result, research conducted by Forrester Consulting suggests that the traditional role of the sales representative is declining. Only 20% of buyers purchase directly from a sales representative more than half of the time, and phone or email customer service is lagging at 17%, too.

flatlining salesDuring the past two years, the B2B research process has changed, according to a study Google conducted with Millward Brown Digital: “While 64% of the C-suite have final sign off, so do almost a quarter (24%) of the non-C-suite. What’s more, it’s the latter that has the most influence; 81% of non-C-suiters have a say in purchase decisions. Clearly, if you’re marketing only to the highest level, you’re overlooking the people who need to notice you,” the report states.

It also reveals that millennials are taking a lead role in B2B purchase research: In 2012, the age of researchers was more or less evenly spread out across age groups. In 2014, however, 18- to 34-year-olds accounted for almost half of all researchers, a remarkable increase of 70%. While they may not be the decision-makers yet, they’re starting to take a stronger role in the B2B purchasing process. Remember – they’re digital natives, with high expectations for online experiences!

CEB and Google’s analysis of traditional marketing, still practiced by many B2B firms, is especially damning:

“Most marketing leaders still treat digital as an unwanted appendage on the traditional marketing campaign cycle, which goes roughly like this: Create a new product, design a campaign touting its features and benefits, figure out a place to stick digital channels within that campaign architecture, execute, measure, repeat…

“(But) customer learning is happening all the time, and doesn’t coincide with your campaign calendar. Marketing organizations have largely been designed from the ground up to support and optimize campaigns, not maintain the continuous presence that the digital channel requires. Marketing management must adjust; if the customer is always learning, then marketing must always be teaching.”

The key, it points out, is customer education – which most B2B marketers appear to be ill-equipped to do:

Growth Cycle Marketing“It’s not enough to teach; you have to teach well. And the dirty little secret of most content marketing is that it does neither. All of that leads us to the biggest problem with current B2B digital approaches: They rely on content that is not at all useful for customers in the midst of a learning journey. Most content is low value; it may be interesting or get a lot of ‘engagement,’ but it doesn’t help buyers make commercial decisions.”

If you’re struggling with flat-lining sales and need to spur sales growth, contact us to learn about our profitable alternative: Growth Cycle Marketing.

Does your company have a full-funnel content strategy?

full funnel content strategy

Do your sales and marketing teams have a full funnel content strategy – a process for moving your ideal prospects from awareness to consideration and acquisition?

An effective content strategy isn’t just focused on inbound marketing – generating leads to fill the top of the sales funnel – which is where many B2B marketers focus the majority of their efforts. Why? Because it feels natural for them to do so; after all, they’ve been doing it for decades.

In contrast, a full-funnel content strategy includes content aimed at prospective buyers at all points of the sales funnel. This includes the critical but often overlooked middle of the funnel, where 90 percent of the “nurturing” must take place to move a prospect from interest to preference and a sale.

Nurturing, defined

Nurturing is the process of moving a prospect through the sales funnel by providing them with content that is tailored to their informational needs at each point of their product research and selection process. In the process, it establishes trust and ideally positions your company as a valuable resource to them.

Ultimately, the goal of nurturing is to move prospects until they are ready to buy. It even extends beyond the point of sale, because customers continue to have information needs after they have purchased a product.

Without a plan for nurturing, content goes to waste, ignored by prospective customers, who don’t understand how it applies to their needs. Sales leads also go to waste, because salespeople don’t want to spend their time talking to prospective customers who are not yet ready to buy. Prospects may receive a single phone call or two from a salesperson. But once he or she determines that the prospect is not ready to buy, this lead and numerous others like it will simply be ignored.

That’s too bad, because with even a modicum of structured nurturing, many more leads could be turned into sales.

Growth Cycle Marketing

Growth Cycle Marketing is Cultivate’s proprietary process for establishing, nurturing and building a relationship with each prospect at every stage in their buyer’s journey, even before that individual buys anything from you.

But building a relationship isn’t about attracting just anyone. You can attract your ideal customer with the right content and targeted messaging. An ongoing, interactive relationship generates leads, filters out ideal customers, bolsters your sales pipeline, and over time builds brand trust and customer loyalty.

Growth Cycle MarketingHere are the five stages of the Growth Cycle Marketing process, with the content purpose and common content types mapped to each stage:

Stage 1: Awareness

  • Content purpose: Educational, instructional. Support prospects in the information gathering segment of their customer journey.
  • Content types: Blog posts, viral videos, infographics, an informative website, guides, e-books, checklists, templates, white papers and presentations.

Stage 2: Consideration

  • Content purpose: Help prospects get answers to their questions. Provide proof of thought leadership and that your company has the solutions to their problems.
  • Content types: Brochures, spec sheets, case studies, testimonials, reviews, webinars and calculators.

Stage 3: Acquisition

  • Content purpose: Serve up catalysts that will encourage the prospect to buy.
  • Content types: discounts, free trials, assessments, audits, demos.

Stage 4: Retention

  • Content purpose: Keep your new customer happy. Help offset buyer’s remorse. Help the customer get up to speed quickly and smoothly with their new product or service. Help them get the most out of the product
  • Content types: Training materials, manuals, parts catalogs, service bulletins.

Stage 5: Advocacy

  • Content purpose: Keep them happy and coming back for more, whenever they have needs for the products and services you offer. If possible, help them be successful in other parts of their business.
  • Content types: Newsletters, loyalty programs, excellent customer service, solicit testimonials and case histories from them.

Growth Cycle MarketingTo get the full scoop on Growth Cycle Marketing, click here.

Is your customer the “hero” of your content marketing?

customer hero content marketing

Tough questions about content marketing

Is your audience the hero of your content marketing? Why not? The most successful content marketing is relentlessly focused on customer needs and aspirations – not on the company’s products and services.

Learn how our exclusive Growth Cycle Marketing process can help you focus on customer needs and generate more sales from every stage of the buying cycle.

5 Great Ideas for Retaining Loyal, Enthusiastic Customers

Loyal, Enthusiastic Customers
Marketing is SO different than it was just a few years ago. While the Web makes it easier to start a company these days, 9 out of 10 startups still fail.

One way to claim a top 1% spot is to fully engage your customer base. A healthy bunch of repeat customers is one step shy of a wild band of brand advocates who will help you sell your product.

Hear that? Brand advocates are loyal, enthusiastic customers who sell FOR you.

No matter what you do, some percentage of your customers are only one-time opportunities. Others will appreciate your company so much they’ll become long-term customers, and they’ll recommend you to their family and friends. These are your potential brand advocates. It’s up to you to provide them incentive to continue to do business with your company.

Ask yourself right now:

  • What do we offer our customers that outshines our competition?
  • How do we show our customers we care?

Hint: If you can answer those two questions, you’re doing your part to generate a repeat customer base rampant with brand advocacy. Could you do more?

 

Try this:

1. Above ALL: Create Evangelists with Superior Customer Service

Loyal, enthusiastic customers don’t just happen. It starts with product and ends—or continues on and on—with exceptional customer service. Understand that customers don’t necessarily have to love you to continue to do business with you. Some will continue to buy your product or services because you offer something unique, because they’re resistant to change, or because your competition has a worse reputation than you do…but they’ll never advocate your brand.

Brand advocates are crazy about you. They love your products and services and their recommendations don’t come with an attached “but…”. As in, “The product is great, but the customer service is terrible.”

The first step to creating brand evangelists is to remove the “but…” with excellent customer service.

2. Offer Up Relevant, Smart, Emotional, Entertaining Content Marketing

How do your customers feel when they use your products or engage in your services? What are your customers’ interests? How can you help your customers solve even more of their most pressing problems?

Most importantly: What do your customers WANT?

It’s your job to learn these answers and provide the information, authenticity, and powerful storytelling they seek through engaging content marketing. Provide the best content on the Web that meets and exceeds your customers’ expectations—and your customers will love you for it.

Bonus: Great content marketing is great for search engine optimization (SEO)—so not only does content marketing help you cultivate brand loyalty, it also helps you gain new prospects and customers.

3. Reward the Refer-A-Friend

Refer-A-Friend rewards both the person referring AND the new customer. Dropbox is a great example. By offering extra storage on both sides, Dropbox increased signups by 60% and went from 100,000 users to 4 million in just over a year. Bam.

4. Create an Exclusive Club

Asking customers to “buy” a “rewards card” seems like a bad idea, but it works, and it works well. Amazon charges $99 per year for its Prime membership, and the rewards are worth it to both customers and Amazon. Perks include free shipping, movies, music, books, early-access deals, and more.

Here’s the kicker: Prime members spend an average of $1,500 a year, about $900 more than the average amount spent by non-member customers.

5. Give Back

TOMS is a company rooted in social good. The concept is simple: For every pair of shoes purchased, Toms provides a pair of shoes to children around the world most in need. The program has become so popular that Toms has expanded; now they also provide clean water, eyeglasses, training, and kits packed with items to help women more safely give birth.

 

Use these 5 great marketing ideas to inspire your customers to want to share their enthusiasm with others—so they tell others how much they like your products, your services, and the perks you offer to earn their business. This kind of ongoing customer lovin’ creates an emotional connection that’s difficult for your competitors to disrupt.

 
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Side Door Thinking: Learn the smart marketing tactics you need to truly engage with more customers.Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open! Want to learn more about effective content marketing? Whether you decide to outsource content marketing or not, this eBook is chock-full of great information on content marketing. Download this FREE guide, Side Door Thinking, to discover how content marketing can help you ramp up your website and complete your marketing strategy.

You’ll learn how to:
  • Increase Your Referral Rate
  • Increase Your Social Media Reach
  • Leverage New Product Lines & Revenue Streams
  • Earn Your Customer’s Loyalty & Business
  • Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource
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