The annual “Pulse of Engineering” survey published by GlobalSpec has long underscored the pressures faced by engineers as they do their jobs. This year’s report reveals that these existing pressures have combined with the impact of the coronavirus to create even more challenges for engineers to face.
Every day, engineers are dealing with highly competitive markets, shrinking design cycles, time-to-market pressures, and loss of institutional knowledge.
Consider these survey findings:
- Fifty-eight percent of engineers say the competitive landscape is global and competes 24/7.
- Seventy-three percent say designs are becoming more complex/sophisticated, 64 percent say there are increased time-to-market pressures, and 58 percent report that design cycles are shrinking.
- The majority say their company’s productivity, innovation, and/or product quality are constrained by a shortage of specialized talent/knowledge.
Marketers can step in and use their content creation and marketing skills to help alleviate these pressures on engineers. Here are four ways you can be a part of the solution to the challenges facing engineers.
1. Help engineers complete their projects
Engineers use technical documentation, software and development tools, product specification data, and datasheets as their most essential systems or tools to complete projects.
Good content from vendors helps to educate engineers and increase their confidence in the products and services they purchase or recommend. Your content should include the technical information and specification data that engineers are seeking.
Maintain a well-organized, accurate, and up-to-date portfolio of technical content that engineers can easily access on your website and that you promote to them through your marketing efforts such as email, social media, and industry websites.
The manufacturer that meets these content needs for its audience and provides the helping hand in completing projects is the manufacturer that is more likely to earn and convert business opportunities.
2. Focus messaging on customer pain points
Specifications and datasheets are essential, and so is providing context around your product and service offerings. When creating content, focus on how your products and services can help speed up design cycles or reduce time-to-market pressures.
In an era in which designs are more complex, does your content explain difficult concepts clearly, helping engineers grasp what you have to say quickly and easily? When you hit your customers’ pain points, they will respond to your messaging.
3. Fill in knowledge gaps
In the “2021 Pulse of Engineering” survey, 58 percent of engineers said that knowledge and/or information loss as employees left the company is very or extremely important. Another 26 percent said it was moderately important.
The issue is exacerbated due to older engineers retiring, layoffs during the coronavirus pandemic, and organic turnover. Yet only 39 percent of companies have formal practices in place to identify senior-level and specialized experts to train, transfer, mentor, or retain their knowledge among others in the organization.
That leaves a significant gap in some companies. Marketers can be a valuable contributor in helping their customers preserve institutional knowledge. White papers, webinars, articles, and other technical content can explain processes, describe how to complete a task, compare different approaches to solving a problem, and document best practices.
This type of content—educational and customer-focused rather than promotional and sales-focused—can become a part of a client organization’s knowledge library.
4. Help engineers advance their skills
Engineers report that their most effective ways to systematically or formally maintain, educate, and advance their professional skills are online training courses, webinars, and peers.
But only 39 percent of manufacturing marketers used webinars/online events as a content type in the past twelve months, according to the research report “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020,” produced by the Content Marketing Institute.
It might be time to devote more resources to webinars, especially during the coronavirus pandemic when many engineers are avoiding traveling and most in-person events are canceled.
You can create webinars to host online training sessions for engineers covering topics they need to know and that you specialize in. Be sure to archive any training sessions so engineers can always have access to the content.
The “2021 Pulse of Engineering” report has clear takeaways for manufacturers: become the vendor that meets your audience’s information needs. Don’t be afraid to take a deep dive into your products and services, offering the technical, in-depth knowledge that engineers and technical professionals are looking for. They will thank you with their business.