As a marketer, you likely have long-term relationships with many seasoned engineers who are in leadership roles and in a position to influence decisions and make purchases. You’re probably comfortable communicating with this engineer. They are likely comfortable with your brand and know what you stand for.
These engineers are the strongest advocates for your products, services, brand, and company. Additionally, they can pass their preferences to younger engineers or to colleagues at other companies if they change jobs. Clearly, you should continue to focus on nurturing these technical professionals in your marketing efforts.
At the same time, many older engineers are nearing retirement. Forty-seven percent have been in the engineering field for 30 or more years, and 22 percent for 20-29 years, according to the “2017 Pulse of the Engineer Survey” from IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions. Younger engineers, many of them millennials, are beginning to step into positions of authority. This requires you to cultivate new relationships with the next generation of customers.
While many aspects of marketing to engineers hold true regardless of your customer’s age, younger technical professionals have their own preferences that vary slightly from the habits of their older colleagues. Follow these tips to make stronger connections with the next generation of engineers:
Make digital your primary focus.
According to the “Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions, millennials use a variety of channels in their buying process and there is no single channel preferred. They use social media more than their older colleagues, conduct more product searches , read more news and more e-newsletters. The three most popular channels to research a work-related purchase are general search engines, supplier websites, and online catalogs. You can connect with engineers young and old by having a broad and consistent online.
Build a presence in online forums.
Online forums have seen a significant growth among younger engineers, with 39 percent now using them. The top three activities in online forums are finding technical support (57 percent), searching for product information (52 percent) and viewing videos (40 percent).
Use content to build trust.
Younger engineers may not be familiar with your brand or value propositions.. It’s important that you provide relevant, educational information to them to help build trust for your brand and to increase your younger prospect’s confidence in choosing to work with your company. You can also build trust through Customer case studies that demonstrate ROI, clear warranty and support policies, as well as white papers and articles. Consider working with an industry analyst or respected media partner to sponsor a white paper or research. You can also sponsor a webinar hosted by a trusted third party.
Develop quick-hitting content that is easily consumed.
Sometimes your younger audience wants to dig deep with a 3,000-word white paper. But often, they prefer nuggets of valuable content. This can include a few charts and graphs showing industry trends or product performance, or A two-minute video that explains a technical process or how your product works. You can usually parse longer content such as white papers and webinars into smaller, discrete chunks that can easily be consumed and shared.
Update your website regularly.
Engineers of any age want the latest information, whether it comes from their news feeds or your website. Make sure the content on your site is fresh and reflects your most recent positioning and product portfolio. Purge the old and outdated. If you work with media partners to publish an online catalog or gain industry exposure, make sure your catalog, featured products and banner ads represent and highlight your newest offerings.
Optimize for mobile devices.
While engineers still do the majority of their heavy-lifting work on desktop computers, their mobile usage is increasing. This is especially true for younger engineers, who use their phones for reading email and articles, and conducting product searches. Websites and email should adhere to responsive design standards, so that they can easily be scanned, read and searched on mobile devices. Make sure that media partners and other vendors you work with are mobile friendly and follow best practices for displaying websites on mobile devices. It’s frustrating to users when they have trouble viewing content on their mobile devices. Younger technical professionals might quickly turn elsewhere.
What do you think? Have you struggled to connect with the next generation, or do you already have a strategy in place?