Selling the Engineer on Marketing’s Value
Let’s face it, ask the average Engineer what he or she thinks of their Marketing and Sales Departments and you’re most likely to encounter a blank stare or a look away with a half grin spreading across his/her face as if to say, “Not much.” Marketing may rank slightly higher than Sales in the Engineer’s mind because while Sales are golfing or passing out doughnuts, at least Marketing is making their products look great on a brochure. This generalized depiction may be in jest, but the impact of a potentially misunderstood relationship on the customer experience is real.
Most, readily agree that Marketing and Sales must be closely aligned to maximize sales and to heighten customer involvement. While true, it is just as important to properly align Marketing and Engineering to ensure the customer experience is fortified and lasting. Product Management and Engineering teamwork is easily identified, but Engineering collaboration with Strategic Marketing and Marketing Communications is also key. Engineers, no matter what type, play a pivotal role in the success of all aspects of Marketing.
Why is Engineering vital to the Industrial Marketing effort?
Let’s examine this with the most obvious area of the Engineering and Marketing connection, Product Management. A Product Manager’s primary goal is to hit their product revenue and profit targets. In addition, they must build a product roadmap that meets today’s customer needs and anticipated future technology demands. Lastly, the Product Manager is tasked with product obsolescence when the product no longer meets market requirements; there is a replacing technology; it lacks available parts; or product costs cannot be curtailed to remain competitive, among other factors. In these areas, product revenue and profitability, long-term product viability and well-managed obsolescence, outcomes largely depend on the Engineer. The Product Manager and Engineering relationship is summarized as follows:
Strategic Marketing and Marketing Communications collaboration with Engineering is perhaps less obvious. However, the interaction is no less important. Strategic Marketing is typically responsible for building the 1-5-year Marketing Plan. The involvement with Engineering is more aggregate in scope (entire product portfolio). Product Managers are more paired with the Strategic team. However, Engineering can be useful depending on desired technology granularity required for market analysis. The Strategic Marketing and Engineering relationship is outlined as follows:
Marketing Communications and Engineering collaboration is the most overlooked. There are clear benefits. See their relationship outlined below.
Strengthening the Marketing and Engineering Relationship –
Below are tips for Marketing to optimize the Engineering partnership for enhanced product, customer and competitive positioning. It may take redefining the relationship and putting aside assumptions from both to truly flourish.
- Marketing should make Engineers aware of ‘’What’s in it for them” when Marketing is more successful. Everyone has overflowing workloads and limited time. Convey to the Engineer that successful marketing translates into a more profitable company, enabling further investments in existing and future products.
- Convey that if Marketing is extremely fruitful, and can gain the market-leader position, it means the company can set the product standards for the industry. Thereby, the Engineer’s influence is now much broader.
- Marketing should actively solicit Engineering’s thoughts on how best to market their products. They may not have the clearest instincts on the market, but they are intimately involved with their products and are connected to the pulse of the industry.
- Invite Engineering Management to Marketing Planning meetings, to ensure technical parameters are factored into market strategy decisions and market messaging accurately reflects differentiated product attributes.
- Marketing should learn as much as possible about the technical aspects of the product portfolio it’s promoting. It leads to a more robust market value-proposition and builds credibility with the technical side of the business.
- Marketing should keep Engineering abreast of product movement in the market. Success is a good way to gel.
In summary, Engineering is vital to identifying and satisfying customer needs. The Marketing and Engineering relationship should be fully exploited. Customers are more satisfied and loyal when they’re understood and their desires are adequately addressed. This goal can be enhanced by utilizing all in-house expertise. Remember, loyal customers provide repeatable business, are less sensitive to price and are more willing to recommend you.