They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. But 1,000 words can paint a pretty good picture, as well as can video, infographics and many other storytelling vehicles. Whichever way the story comes to life, people enjoy a good story. And when marketing to engineers, who are commonly influencers and decision-makers in business-to-business sales decisions, like everyone, they enjoy a good story.
Engage Engineers with Rich, Dynamic Storytelling
It’s easy to make dated and sometimes silly assumptions about engineers. “They’re nerdy.” “They like to ‘dork-out’ on the specs.” In my career positions at Segway, Qualcomm and now serving many engineering-centric clients at Portavoce PR, I have worked with and for dozens of engineers. And yes, they often liked to geek out, but they are also incredibly interesting people who like to build things in and out of work hours and enjoy artistic hobbies that don’t fit the engineering paradigm – such as music and photography. The point is that engineers are interesting and sophisticated people. As we market to them, our goal should be to engage them with rich stories that engage them on multiple levels, are interesting to read and incorporate dynamic visuals.
Create a Well-Rounded Communication Portfolio
The spec sheet is usually the first thing on the list when a team starts to create its marketing communications for a product or solution. Indeed this is a high priority because according to a study by CEF publishing, more than 50% of engineers use product information and spec sheets heavily throughout all four of the buying stages, those being Research, Evaluation, Consideration and the Buy/Specify phases. Yet, the study also showed that during the first phase of buying, the research phase, 60% of engineers say they find case study and application stories to be the most valuable. Webinars, white papers and how-to-articles jockey for second place. Engineers tap into all of these formats throughout all four buying phases, so if time and resources allow, you want to explore how to tell your story with all these different approaches
Utilize Your In-house Experts to Start Your Story
How do you create a story for a product that you haven’t even started to sell? Fortunately, application and technical articles can be easily developed before the product launches. Unlike case studies, which require a participating customer who has already used the product or solution, an article that explores how and why to use a product can be developed solely based on the company’s internal expertise. This type of storytelling is also an exceptional way to build a thought leadership initiative around your company’s experts.
Write with Creativity and a Sprinkle of Geek
Even when writing an application or technical article about your solution, keep the creativity alive, and sprinkle in just the right amount of “geek.” Focus more on articulating the outcomes this new solution can bring to a customer’s company. Refrain from the temptation of just communicating all the specification data in prose. The purpose of the application article is to explain to the customer how the product can make a positive impact on their business, by creating efficiencies, improving product quality, increasing worker safety or lowering operational costs. Utilize existing assets you have within the company, such as customer data gathered during the R&D phase, market information and stats and trends from outside sources to tell your story.
Articulate Outcomes to Help the Engineer Sell in the Idea
Outcomes-based storytelling also helps fill in the gaps for an engineer. An engineer is likely to know and understand the specs of the products they need. Where she or he might need help is selling the idea to the boss. How do you convince a provost that her university needs a Gigabit Passive Optical Network? You tell her that she can save more than half a million dollars with five times the lifespan over the alternative. How do you convince the plant manager that you need a remotely automated pump? You tell him how it reduces the risk plant employees and minimizes wasted ingredients in processing.
Written Stories are the Basis of Visual Storytelling
With a strong story articulated in writing, you are now prepared to create a number of different expressions of that story. A written application story becomes the basis of a shot list for an application video, the stats you gathered can be designed into an infographic, and the story can easily be broken down into slides for a webinar that your internal expert presents.
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