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How Marketers Can Help Prevent Institutional Knowledge Drain

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Industrial companies are facing a pressing problem: the loss of knowledge and information as employees leave the company.

In GlobalSpec’s forthcoming “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. Twenty-six percent of engineers said they were only moderately likely to be employed at the same company five years from now. Thirty percent said they were only slightly likely or not at all likely to be employed by the same company.  

That’s significant employee loss—often accompanied by specialized knowledge walking out the door.

Formal practices are required

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.

Here’s how:

  • Create educational and technical content that is focused on the needs and interests of engineers. 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.

  • 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. You can 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.

  • Host and moderate a knowledge database or online discussion forum around specific topics that are relevant to engineers. You can do this for one company, such as a large, important customer. Or you can open the forum to all engineers, and serve primarily as its moderator:  answering questions, contributing to discussions, and pointing toward other content you’ve created that is useful to your audience.

  • Keep all your content, particularly technical specifications, up to date and easy to use. If your technical content is comprehensive, logically organized, accurate, and easy to access, you can gain a reputation as a supplier that is a trusted source of knowledge and expertise. Engineers will come to depend on you more. 

  • Because engineers are on the move, if you only have a couple of contacts within a company, you risk losing that connection if the engineer changes jobs or retires. Consider a campaign to help update your database by having engineers verify their contact information, asking them to recommend a peer or colleague that would benefit from knowing about your company and products, and encouraging engineers to share your content such as blog posts, articles, and videos so that you can increase your number of contacts. Keep your database updated so you can track engineers who change companies.

Remember, employee loss is inevitable, but the loss of specialized knowledge doesn’t have to be. By focusing on getting relevant, educational content into the hands of engineers, you can become a trusted partner in helping them slow down the loss of institutional knowledge. Ultimately, you’ll help your bottom line as well.

Customer Relationships
woman having a video call

How Has the Coronavirus Impacted Engineers?

woman having a video call

Almost everyone around the world has been impacted by the coronavirus, and engineers are no exception. In the forthcoming “2021 Pulse of Engineering” survey, GlobalSpec asked engineers three key questions about the coronavirus. Here are their responses.

1. Has the coronavirus impacted your department’s budget?

Forty-six percent of engineers said that the coronavirus has caused their budget to decrease, while 36 percent said it has not impacted their budget.

  • More midsized companies with 50-250 employees saw their budget decreased (64 percent) than larger or smaller companies.
  • The regions most impacted by budget decreases were Africa (75 percent), followed by South America (68 percent) and Asia (67 percent). The region least impacted was Australia, with only 28 percent of companies experience budget decreases. In North America, 46 percent of companies saw their budgets decreased.
  • The industry most impacted by budget decreases is Consumer Electronics (72 percent), followed by both Automotive and Education (each at 64 percent). Sixty-two percent have experienced budget decreases in Fabricated Materials, General Manufacturing, and Oil & Gas.
  • Several industries saw the average company experience either budget increases or stable budgets. These industries include Government, Aerospace & Defense, Engineering/Tech Design Services, Communications-Data/Telecom/Wireless/Network, Medical Equipment/Instrumentation, and Industrial Machinery/Tools & Equipment.

Key Takeaway: While many budgets have decreased due to coronavirus, some have increased or remained stable. Even in industries or regions where budgets have been most impacted, the show must go on. Marketers should continue their campaign efforts, making adjustments where necessary to account for lagging industries or markets.  

2. How has the coronavirus impacted your ability to complete projects?

The most common impact on the ability to complete projects is supply chain issues and the availability of necessary parts, which was reported by 40 percent of survey respondents.

  • Supply chain issues and availability of necessary parts has had a larger impact on smaller companies with fewer than 100 employees than on larger companies.
  • Australia (38 percent) and Asia (35 percent) are the regions most impacted by supply chain issues.
  • The industries most impacted by supply chain issues are Agriculture/Forestry, Biotechnology/Pharmaceuticals, and Packaging Machinery, all at 40 percent.
  • The ability of half of those working in Semiconductor & Electronic Components to complete projects has been impacted by colleagues being laid off or furloughed.
  • Twenty-six percent of engineers said that working from home has impacted their ability to complete projects.

Key Takeaway: Because supply chain is the most common issue impacting engineers’ ability to complete projects, if there is any way you can expedite or improve the ability to get parts into the hands of your customers you should make that point clear in your marketing messages. Alternatively, think about some other ways you might be able to alleviate the pain their feeling from supply chain issues.

3. What has been your biggest challenge during the coronavirus?

The biggest challenge engineers face during the coronavirus aligns with the most common impact on the ability to complete projects: the availability of parts and components, reported by 26 percent of respondents.

  • Twenty-two percent of engineers said that working remotely was their biggest challenge; 16 percent said canceled work travel.
  • Working remotely and canceled travel were more of a challenge for engineers at larger companies.
  • The challenge of the availability of parts and components was felt particularly by engineers at smaller companies with up to 50 employees.
  • In most industries, the availability of parts and components is the biggest challenge. However, working remotely is the number one challenge for Government, Education, Utilities/Energy, Aerospace & Defense, Oil & Gas, and Consumer Electronics.

Key Takeaway: In addition to alleviating supply chain concerns, think about how your customer’s work environment is different than normal, and account for that in your outreach. Are there better times of day to reach them? Is a conversation via Zoom a better option? Your typical outreach might need to change.

Look for more insights into the work environment of an engineer in our upcoming research report, “2021 Pulse of Engineering.”

Customer Relationships Market Research Marketing Trends

Lead Nurturing Simplified: 5 Core Principles

A prospect could be anywhere in their buy cycle when they first reach out to your company, but few of them are ready to make a purchase decision at that point.

That’s why lead nurturing is so essential to your marketing success. You must be able to keep your prospects interested, encourage them along their buying journey, and pass them off to your sales team when appropriate. That’s lead nurturing in a nutshell.

The lead nurturing process can be long—research shows it takes anywhere from six to thirteen touches to deliver a qualified lead to sales. Lead nurturing can also be very fruitful—studies show that 70 percent of business comes from long-term leads, those that aren’t ready to buy when you first connect with them.

Lead nurturing can also be complex, with many moving parts and variables affecting your ability to execute. However, if you adhere to these five core principles, you can simplify the process, gain efficiencies, and deliver more qualified opportunities to your sales team.

1. Use a Lead Nurturing System

It’s possible to use manual processes and spreadsheets to nurture leads, but the process will be labor intensive.

Many industrial companies are adopting marketing automation to help manage lead nurturing and other marketing efforts. Marketing automation allows you to capture prospect engagement across all digital channels and can help you score leads, create landing pages, track prospect actions, trigger automatic emails, report on the effectiveness of various content, produce analytics and much more.

Other companies are embracing specific email-based lead nurturing platforms such as IEEE GlobalSpec Catalyst. Whatever system you choose, the three core capabilities you must have for lead nurturing are the ability to segment your audience, create and send campaigns, and report results.

Develop the process you want to use for lead nurturing, then find the system that best supports that process.

2. Segment Your Audience

Unless all of your prospects are about the same, you will need to segment your audience so that you can craft different lead nurturing campaigns to meet the needs of different audiences.

Segments vary for different companies, but common segments include area of interest, phase of buy cycle, market, geography/territory, among others. You’ll also want to segment out hot leads that are sales-ready and that you immediately pass to your sales team.

The definition of a sales-ready lead, as well as your audience segments, should be determined jointly between you and your sales team. Lead nurturing only works if sales and marketing organizations are on the same page working from the same playbook.

3. Nourish Prospects

To maintain and grow prospect interest until they are ready to make a purchase decision, you should continually offer them educational, relevant information they want and need to feel confident that you are the right company.

Nourishing takes place through what are called email “drip” campaigns—meaning at regular intervals, you show up with a content offer in their inbox. Your campaign could touch prospects once a week for six months or once a month for a year. You decide, based on your segments and your prospects’ needs.

With each campaign touch, you should offer your prospects something of value: a white paper, infographic, webinar, video, article or other helpful content. Keep the content educational in nature rather than sales-oriented. Engineers hate to be sold to; they want to learn and discover.

If you are using marketing automation, you can set up rules for your campaign, such as “any prospect that downloads a white paper receives a webinar invitation the following week.”

4. Hand-off to Sales

Because you’ve already come to an agreement with your sales team about what constitutes a sales-ready lead, you’ll know when a prospect in a nurturing campaign is ready for sales.

Often a lead reaches sales-ready status when it achieves a score based on a scale you develop that awards points for specific prospect behaviors. For example, a prospect that clicks on every offer is a five and likely sales-ready, while a prospect that only visited a web page remains a one.

5. Track and Learn

Keep track of how the prospects in your campaign interact with your offers and content. You can find out what offers resonate and are popular, and which fall flat. Get rid of offers that don’t perform well, while building on content that is popular with other similar offers. Continually refine your campaigns and you should see improved results.

Those are the five basic principles. For a deeper dive into lead nurturing, including best practices to optimize your lead nurturing efforts and quick tips for following up with leads, download the complimentary toolkit, “The Industrial Marketer’s Guide to Lead Nurturing.” You’ll learn the finer points to be successful at lead nurturing. Download here.


 

Customer Relationships Lead Management Marketing, General

What Separates Electronics Engineers From Their Peers

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In its fourth annual research report—“The Pulse of Engineering”— IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions took a fresh approach by segmenting survey responses from electronics engineers. These engineers represent a significant part of IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions’ audience and are a frequently targeted population for manufacturers.

The survey revealed what engineers think about the resources available to them, their competition, how their performance is measured, and the climate at their current company. It also delved into an engineers’ work style, along with their motivations and career path.

When looking at these findings, a number of differences between electronics engineers and those engineers working in other industries are evident. For manufacturers that market to this sector, the findings should shape how you communicate with this audience.

Larger Companies and Design Teams

Electronics engineers are more likely to work for larger companies that employ 500 or more engineers. They are also more likely to work in design teams of 100 or more engineers and in teams that have a greater number of design team participants from other countries.

These results indicate that you may need to reach out to a greater number of engineers who have a variety of perspectives and interest areas. Some may be focused on how well a product works, others on how well a product fits into their existing environment, and still others on the economic payback of a product. When marketing to electronics companies, you may need to create content and messaging that resonates with different areas of focus and that can appeal to a variety of team members and decision makers.

Conditions at Electronics Companies

As with engineers across every industry, many electronics engineers report that the pace of engineering is constantly increasing, the pressure to meet deadlines is putting product quality/rework at risk, and they are required to do more with less.

However, electronics engineers are less likely to say that their companies are losing specialized knowledge and senior expertise faster than they can gain it. If you are a contributor to that specialized knowledge and expertise in a company through your products or services, then you’ve proven yourself to be a valuable ally to these engineers.

Other research findings specific to the electronics industry include:

  • Electronics engineers are more likely to consider software and development tools, coding resources and design kits as essential to completing projects.
  • Electronics engineers are more likely to say that the competitive landscape is global and competes 24×7, that new technologies and companies disrupt markets and products faster, and that competitors are quick to adapt and take away business—all findings that reinforce the turbulent and fast-changing nature of the electronics industry.
  • Workforces are more likely to be increasing in electronics than in other industries. At the same time, layoffs are a bigger reason for electronics engineers to leave their company than it is in other industries. The top reason to leave a current role or company is in order to pursue advancement opportunities.
  • In terms of upgrading their career skills, electronics engineers are most interested in learning programming languages, new and emerging standards such as 5G and how to implement artificial intelligence. If you can help educate electronics engineers in any of these areas, you should produce focused messaging and content to support the initiative.

No matter what industries you market to, connecting with engineers requires understanding their needs and motivations, and producing technical and educational content to help them succeed at their jobs.

For a more complete understanding of engineers and their work environment, download a complimentary copy of “2018 Pulse of Engineering.” This valuable resource includes all research results along with analysis and marketing recommendations for industrial marketers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Customer Relationships Electronics Marketing, General
millennial engineer professional

How to Market to Millennial Engineers

In many respects, millennials are like their older, more experienced engineering colleagues: smart, hardworking, ambitious problem-solvers. But in other ways, millennials set themselves apart, and not just in the ways you may have read about previously.

New research from IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions—“The Pulse of Engineering”—included exclusive analysis about millennials, which are generally considered born in the time period between the early 1980s and 2000, and for this report have less than ten years of engineering experience.

The results of the survey provide insight into work styles, engineer’s motivations, and their desired career path. A few things stand out about millennials that can help shape how you market to and communicate with them.

1. Millennials are more optimistic than more seasoned engineers.

Engineers of all ages report that the pace of engineering is constantly increasing and that lack of time and resources are their most significant challenges. However, millennials are more likely to believe that technology is improving productivity and they are not as concerned that their companies are losing senior expertise faster than they are gaining it.

Millennials are also more likely to report increasing budgets and new hires in their companies, growth in their engineering workforce, and are less likely to report that cost-cutting pressure is affecting their products.

Takeaway:

Millennials may be more responsive to messages about the benefits of new technology. At the same time, they may not be moved by dark or dire FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) marketing tactics that some manufacturers employ. They’re more optimistic—you should be too when communicating with them.

 

2. Millennials are eager to learn and find new opportunities.

When reporting on factors important to their careers, millennials are driven less by compensation and more by learning opportunity, growth potential and by good work/life balance.

The number one reason millennials would leave their current role is to move to another company to pursue new opportunities, followed by promotion to a more senior role.

For millennials that change jobs, many report they would need to upgrade their current skills by learning programming languages, software development, data science, business skills, and communication and presentation skills. The top four ways they maintain and advance their skills and become educated are colleagues, books, online training courses and webinars (true across all age groups), but millennials are much more likely to use online video and less likely to use technical white papers by vendors.

Younger engineers are also more likely to use datasheets, coding resources, and design kits to help complete projects they are working on.

Takeaway:

Create and deliver technical content that helps educate millennials and improve their skillsets. Plan online training courses for your audience, host webinars, and create instructional videos. Produce detailed datasheets. Offer comprehensive design kits. If you can become a millennial engineer’s trusted resource now, they are much more likely to remember your company and stick with you as they move up the ladder or change jobs.

3. Millennials want open access to information

Millennials are less willing than other engineers to register on a website for access to specific documents. They are also more likely to believe all content should be free and open access.

Takeaway:

These findings have important implications for your marketing programs. If you have gated content that requires user registration, millennials are less likely to fill out a form. It’s not that surprising they believe content should be free and open access—they grew up with the internet and a constant flow of freely available information at their fingertips.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have registration forms on your website to collect prospect information, but you may need to consider other ways to distribute content, such as through social media and email. Or make an executive summary of important content open access and require registration only after you’ve demonstrated your content’s exceptional value. You may also want to consider progressive forms that only require the bare minimum from prospects initially. Millenials may be more likely to fill out a form if it takes only seconds to do and doesn’t compromise too much of their privacy.

 

 

 

Customer Relationships Market Research Marketing Trends

How to Keep Up with Engineers on the Move

 

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Only 37 percent of engineers say they are very likely or completely likely to be employed by the same company five years from now.

Of those engineers who might leave their current role, 32 percent stated that moving to another company would be the reason they leave their current role. That percentage rises to 37 percent of those in the Electronics industry and 51 percent for millennials.

These results, from the “2018 Pulse of Engineering” survey conducted by IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions, point to the conclusion that engineers are on the move—and the impact on manufacturers and their marketing strategies can be significant. You may have invested significant time and resources toward building relationships with these engineers, only to have them move to another company.

Your goal, then, must be to make sure that when engineers move, they take you with them. How can you do this? By making your company so valuable to them that they couldn’t imagine starting a new job without your company as their ally.

Manufacturers Can Be Trusted Providers of Content

You might gain an advantage if your company can play a role in helping engineers advance along their learning curve. One of the keys is to produce content valued by engineers.

When asked how they systematically or formally maintain, educate and advance their professional skills, engineers answered books, colleagues, online training courses and webinars. Next most popular were technical white papers by vendors. And to complete projects they are working on, engineers turn to technical documentations, software and development tools, and product specification datasheets.

It may be a good time to review and possibly upgrade your company’s online training, webinars, technical documents and white papers.

Engineers May Leave, But You Can Stay

If you establish strong enough relationships with engineers, they may recommend you in their new positions when they change companies. Additionally, you still want to remain entrenched in their previous company, and the way to do that is to be an indispensable knowledge resource.

Engineers admit that knowledge or information loss is moderately (28 percent), very (31 percent) or extremely important (16 percent) as employees left their company. Yet 55 percent of companies surveyed don’t have formal practices in place to identify senior-level and specialized experts to train, transfer, mentor, manage or retain their knowledge among others in the organization. On average, engineers gave a 5.2 out of 10 satisfaction score for their company’s talent or knowledge management processes.

A significant gap exists between where companies are and where they should be in terms of maintaining, managing and transferring knowledge internally. That gap creates an opportunity for manufacturers to step in and provide customized content and training that will benefit these companies as well as embed the manufacturer within the company because of their expertise. Forty-four percent say that design involvement from external partners and vendors is increasing.

Whether engineers are moving to other companies or trying to retain knowledge when others have left, manufacturers can step up by providing the important content that can make them an invaluable resource to their present and future customers.

 

 

 

 

 

Content Marketing Customer Relationships Marketing, General

Secrets of the Engineer’s Work Environment

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It stands to reason that the better you know the mindset and working conditions of your target audience, the better you can communicate with them in a relevant and meaningful way.

IEEE GlobalSpec recently conducted its fourth “Pulse of Engineering” survey to gain knowledge about engineers’ work habits, the pace of engineering and their work environment. The results produced a number of insights that can help you better your audience’s work environment – and what they need from you.

What’s Most Important to Engineers

Whether professionally employed for three years or 30 years, the most important factors in the careers of engineers and other technical professionals are having interesting work (selected by 87 percent), good work/life balance (67 percent), learning (59 percent) and compensation (54 percent).

Millennials (born between 1983-2000) are less driven by compensation and more by learning opportunity, growth potential and by good work/life balance.

Design Teams are More Diverse

The majority of engineers (53 percent) work in design teams of 1 to 5 people. Thirty-nine percent work on teams of 6 to 24 people and 8 percent on teams of 25 or more. Design teams of over 100 people are more often found in the Electronics industry.

While the average size of their design team has stayed the same for most engineers, the team’s makeup and output has changed. The number of projects worked on, the number of female team participants, the number of participants from different countries and design involvement from external partners have all increased since last year’s survey.

As a marketer, you must connect with a busier and more diverse design team. It may be helpful to build buyer personas or audience profiles to better craft your message.

Engineers Face Increasing Work Pressure

The majority of engineers and technical professionals agreed with these two statements: “The pace of engineering is constantly increasing” and “We are required to do more with less.” Forty percent agreed that “Pressure to meet deadlines is putting product quality/rework at risk.”

These findings confirm what everyone in the industry already knows: that engineers are under significant pressure at work. Forty-three percent of engineers are concurrently working on 3 to 5 projects; 23 percent are working on six or more.

Other survey results reinforce this conclusion about work pressures:

  • 79 percent agree that designs are becoming more complex/sophisticated
  • 65 percent say design cycles are shrinking
  • 72 percent report there is more time-to-market pressure
  • 52 percent say the number of competitors is growing

What do these findings mean to marketers? Perhaps most importantly, it means that any message or content you want to deliver to engineers must be laser-targeted and highly relevant if you want to gain a moment of their attention.

Take a look at your marketing efforts and how you position and talk about your products and services. Will a busy engineer pay attention? Do you have something to say that can help alleviate some of the pressures they face? For example, do your products reduce time to market, speed the design cycle, or explain complex ideas simply?

It might be time to tweak your content to make sure it’s aligned with your audience’s mindset and work environment.

How Performance is Measured

As is the case with many professionals, engineers are measured in terms of achieving stated objectives. The most common goals/objectives to measure team performance are product quality (used by 60 percent of companies) and customer service/satisfaction (58 percent). Launch dates is the next most common goal (49 percent). When reviewing your marketing strategy, ask yourself how you can help your audience meet these goals. Make sure your products and services’ selling points can be directly related to their objectives.

Not surprisingly, given what we know about the nature of engineers, they are good at meeting their objectives:

  • 78 percent frequently or always meet product quality objectives
  • 75 percent frequently or always meet customer satisfaction/service goals
  • 53 percent frequently or always meet launch dates—a lower percentage than the other two, but many factors beyond an engineer’s control influence whether a launch date is met or not.

The overall conclusion to draw is that engineers and technical professionals are successfully fulfilling or surpassing the requirements of their profession, at a time when internal and external pressures are increasing. You’ve got an admirable and dedicated target audience out there. Make sure you tell them that.

 

 

 

 

Customer Relationships Marketing, General

Engineers Are Facing an Information Shortage – Here’s How You Can Help

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Most marketers know that engineers and technical professionals consume a lot of content. Various forms of content are necessary to help them stay informed, perform their jobs better, and to aid their buying decisions. Good content from vendors helps educate engineers and increases their confidence in the products and services they purchase or recommend.

However, many engineers are facing an information shortage or having trouble managing information- they don’t have easy access to the amount of technical, relevant and educational content they are looking for. The IEEE GlobalSpec “Pulse of Engineering” survey reports that 44 percent of engineers are dealing with constraints in accessing/managing information. Sixty-six percent of engineers are constrained by a lack of specialized knowledge in their organizations.

Here’s how to help your current and prospective clients by satisfying their need for knowledge.

Get Technical with Your Audience

If engineers are constrained by an information shortage, the impact can be significant due to their reliance on technical content. When asked what the three most essential systems or tools they use to complete their projects are, 69 percent said technical documentation and 67 percent said software and development tools. The next most important tools were product specification data and datasheets.

These results offer a message to manufacturers: your customers need technical content. Don’t be afraid to dig deep and get into the weeds on the specifics of your products and services, and how they compare to others in the industry. If you can supply this content, you will likely be in a better position to win business and become an essential ally to your customers.

Get Information in Their Hands

For manufacturers like you to meet the information needs of their audience, they need an effective content marketing strategy. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

The good news is that the vast majority of manufacturers (86 percent) use content marketing, according to an annual research report — “2018 Manufacturing Content Marketing” — conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, and sponsored in by IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions.

However, only 22 percent of manufacturers describe their content marketing efforts as mature or sophisticated and only 19 percent have a documented content marketing strategy. Fifty-five percent consider their organization’s content marketing approach to be moderately successful. That leaves plenty of room for improvement.

Among the content types, distribution formats, and social media platforms that respondents use, videos (pre-produced), email, and LinkedIn were rated by content marketers as most effective in helping their organizations achieve specific objectives. The top six types of content produced by manufacturers are social media posts, pre-produced video, illustrations/photos, case studies, eBooks/white papers, and infographics. In creating and refining your content marketing strategy, learn from your peers and consider adding these types of content that have proven effective.

What Engineers Will Exchange for Content

Your audience is willing to exchange a range of things for the information they want. The Pulse of Engineering report found that 53 percent of engineers are willing to register on a website for access to specific documents. Twenty-six percent said they were willing to pay for access to premium content and prefer to pay one set rate for access to all of an organization’s documentation. Twenty-three percent prefer to pay for access to documents as they are needed.

As far as content used to advance their professional skills, engineers mainly use books, colleagues, online training courses, and webinars.

These two research reports provide clear takeaways for manufacturers: Become the vendor that meets your audience’s information needs. Improve your content marketing efforts. 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.

Content Marketing Customer Relationships Marketing, General

Three Big Reasons Why Engineers Need You

You need engineers and technical professionals. They are your customers and therefore the lifeblood of your company. But the relationship is mutual: Engineers need you as well.

Leveraging this mutual need is the key to building and maintaining long-term, loyal relationships with your customers.

The recent “2017 Pulse of Engineering” survey revealed three key areas where suppliers can focus their marketing efforts to provide more value to engineers and technical professionals. Let’s discuss your customer’s pain points and how to help them:

1. Provide Design and Project Assistance
The majority of engineers and technical professionals surveyed agreed that designs are becoming more complex at the same time that design cycles are shrinking and time-to-market pressures are increasing. Fifty-five percent of engineers are being required to do more with less; 68 percent are working on three or more projects simultaneously. Yet team size is not increasing. Seventy-six percent said the average size of the teams they work on has decreased or stayed the same.

Due to these pressures, many companies are looking outside for help. Thirty-eight percent said that design involvement from external partners, vendors and customers has increased. This represents a golden opportunity for suppliers to educate their customers and become more involved in their work processes.

However, expect engineers to choose their outside influences judiciously. You can demonstrate your expertise and get closer to customers by marketing your brand and value propositions across the channels that engineers use to locate suppliers, products, and services. Online catalogs, webinars, technical articles and white papers are all good vehicles to showcase your company’s expertise, and to demonstrate how you can add value in the design phase of projects.

2. Fill the Knowledge Gap
Forty-seven percent of engineers have 30 or more years of service, and many are nearing retirement. Thirty-six percent of industrial companies are experiencing increased losses of senior employees to retirement. Twenty-seven percent of technical professionals said they were only slightly or not at all likely to be employed by their current company in five years.

One result of changing demographics and worker mobility is a knowledge drain. Forty-five percent of survey respondents said that knowledge and/or information loss as employees left the company was very or extremely important. Yet only 36 percent of companies have formal practices in place to identify senior-level and specialized experts to train, transfer, mentor, manage or retain their knowledge among others in the organization.

As a supplier in the industrial sector, you can help preserve and grow your customers’ knowledge by educating and training them on trends and technologies, and serving as a trusted information resource. Engineers and technical professionals primarily maintain and advance their professional skills through colleagues, books, and technical white papers and training provided by vendors.

Make customer education, training and thought leadership cornerstone initiatives in your marketing strategy. By becoming more valuable to your customers you can become more entrenched in their work processes and serve as a primary source that they will turn to for technical and industry knowledge.

3. Help Engineers Do More with Less
While the pace of engineering continues to increase and engineers are asked to do more with less, 47 percent of survey respondents say that technology is helping to improve productivity. Embedded in these findings is a valuable question for suppliers to answer: How do your offerings help engineers improve their efficiency?

Research such as “2017 Pulse of Engineering” allows you to identify the challenges and concerns of your customers, and to align your messaging and solutions in a way that resonates with your audience. For example, the survey reveals that engineers often must meet aggressive launch dates for products that meet high standards for customer satisfaction. How do your products/services help engineers do more with less? Or shorten design cycles? Or increase efficiency? How are your technologies at the forefront of innovation or sustainable for long periods of time? Craft marketing messages in a way that positions your offerings to help engineers overcome their challenges.

The “2017 Pulse of Engineering” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions can help guide your marketing efforts. Results tell you exactly what engineers and technical professionals in the industrial sector think about the pace of engineering, work environment, competition, challenges, performance management and knowledge management practices.
 

Content Marketing Customer Relationships Market Research Marketing Trends

The Millennials are Coming!

Actually, they’re already here. While there are no precise dates for when this generation begins or ends, most consider anyone born from the early 1980’s to the mid 1990‘s to be a millennial. That puts the majority of millennials in the sought after 18-34 demographic.

According to the Pew Research Center, there were approximately 55.2 million millennials in the U.S. workforce in 2015. By 2025, that number is expected to grow to 74 million, representing 44 percent of the workforce.

Millennials are flooding the B2B industrial sector and advancing into positions where they influence and/or make buying decisions. Research conducted by the B2B marketing firm Sacunas found that 73 percent of millennials are involved in product or service purchase decision-making at their companies. Approximately one-third of millennials report being the sole decision-maker for their department.

As marketers, you must learn to connect with this group and win them over.

Preferred Channels for Millennials
Millennials are less reliant on any one information source than other age groups. A report compiled by Chief Marketer claims there is no “silver bullet” to reach the millennial audience, and that a “mix of channels and approaches is your best bet.”

Fortunately, a multichannel strategy is the best way to reach engineers and technical professionals of any age. The three most popular channels to research a work-related purchase are general search engines, supplier websites and online catalogs, according to the “2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions. In addition, online communities have seen a significant growth among younger engineers, with 39 percent now using them.

Naturally, social media is an attractive channel for millennials. Eighty-five percent use social media to research products and services for their companies. Facebook is the most popular platform, and the majority also use LinkedIn (Sacunas).

2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” found that professionals under age 35 are more likely to make contact during the needs analysis/research phase of the buy cycle, while professionals over 49 are more likely to wait until the purchasing stage. The takeaway is that suppliers must be discoverable and approachable during any phase of the buy cycle, through a variety of marketing channels. This conclusion aligns with millennials’ desire for a hassle-free, multi-channel client experience that is tailored to their specific needs.

Types of Content Millennials Consume
According to Sacunas, when researching new products and services to make B2B purchasing decisions, millennials prefer video-based content and case studies. In terms of targeted content, they rate training, demos and product news as being the most helpful information to receive from vendors.

The way that millennials consume content is worth noting as well. Technical professionals under age 35 conduct significantly more product searches and read more news and e-newsletters on their smartphones than their older colleagues (“2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector”). Suppliers should consider creating websites and e-newsletters that are compatible with mobile.

What Millennials Look for in a B2B Vendor
What are millennials looking for in a B2B vendor? The top priority was ease of doing business (35%), followed by willingness to work collaboratively with their organization (33%), and industry/marketplace experience (31%), as reported by IBM. Eighty percent of millennials in the Sacunas survey indicated that social, environmental, or philanthropic efforts of companies are important to their purchase decisions.

How do you ensure you are the right company for a millennial customer? Pay attention to this audience’s preferences for channels, content and brand attributes during their buy cycle, and adjust your marketing accordingly. You might find your customer base becoming both younger and larger as a result.
 

Customer Relationships Industrial Marketing and Sales Market Research Marketing Trends Marketing, General Thought Leadership