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John Hayes
By
March 27, 2014

Aligning Your Content for Engineers with Target Buyer Personas

(Updated: April 13th, 2017)

Six ways to create purposeful marketing content for engineering prospects

Developing personas for your engineering prospects is hard work.  We’ve never found a shortcut to understanding what engineers need from your product.  However, once you have the personas you can create purposeful content that aligns with the stages of the engineer’s buying cycle, from awareness to consideration to decision making.

6stepstobettercontentAn Example - Engineering Software Vendor

Let’s say you are a marketer for a new cloud-based Bill of Material management software.  Your software helps product designers understand the costs of their designs earlier in the process.  Your software also includes collaboration tools that let the design team communicate costs with suppliers, marketers, sales people and customers.

Let’s also say that you have identified several target personas within each account, including engineering & design directors, product designers, and CAD managers. You have several industries that you target, including contract manufacturers and on companies that are heavily “engineered-to-order.”

For the purposes of this post, let’s say that your target persona who is an engineering or design director at a manufacturer of engineer-to-order products like fire trucks or robotic assemblies.  These people often face challenges developing accurate cost information at the conceptual stage of their product development.  As a result, they have cost overruns due to miscommunication between their company, their suppliers and the end customers. 

BoM Cloud Software Diagram-1.jpg

Six steps to creating the purposeful content for engineers

  1. Be specific to your target market

    It’s so tempting to describe how your solution serves 100 different end markets.  Don’t.  Talk instead to specific industries and use concrete examples.  You might think that talking about a fire truck manufacturer will mean that all the ambulance manufacturers will ignore you.  They won’t.  Engineers have enough imagination to make the connection.

    This specificity does two things: i) it makes your communications highly relevant to your target so that they can get more value form it and ii) it forms a scenario that allows prospects outside of your target market to imagine their own company challenges.

    In this post I’m using the example of the BOM Cloud company, but those of you who market other software will have no trouble seeing your issues in this scenario. Even marketers who are responsible for products ranging from electronics components to higher education can easily make the logical leaps from the software example.

  2. Be specific in your benefits

    The worst thing you could do to your campaign is title it, “How to Speed your time-to-market, reduce late-stage design changes and make your company more profitable”.  Although this may be true, it is also a claim made by every other engineering software on the planet.  Be specific to your buyer personas challenges.  Describe exactly the problem that they need to solve and how your product helps to achieve that end goal.

    A 2017 survey by Business Advantage indicated that “easier collaboration” is the top feature for prospects who are considering cloud-based engineering software. You might interpret that to mean that collaboration challenges are a top concern, so you might title your campaign something more like, “How to Get Accurate Costs from Overseas Suppliers.” This is a lot more specific than a generic reference to speeding time to market or increasing profitability.

  3. Lead with the problem/solution, not with features

    Your CIO and CEO will want to tout that the solution is cloud-based, which is undeniably cool.  However, your prospects are more interested in reducing cost over-runs by sharing cost data early in the design process. Only mention features after the engineers are engaged in the problem/solution you solve.

    Your BOM solution may solve many problems for engineers, from improving the accuracy of quotations from suppliers, to more clearly documenting requirements and sign-offs from customers. These are the sorts of topics to discuss rather than highlighting features too early in the engineer’s buying journey.

  4. Align with the buying cycle

    You’ll need lots of awareness pieces to address the many different challenges and various industries where your target buyers work.  These pieces should start with the challenge and outline how your software solves that particular problem.  

    When you are writing for further down in the buying cycle, that’s the time to deliver the more technical consideration posts.  These middle of funnel content pieces deal with the “how we do that”, along with specific customer success stories.

  5. Show them under the hood

    Engineers crave the details.  Once you’ve explained the benefits, it’s time to talk cloud, feeds and speeds, and deal with any security issues. 

    In the BOM software example, your prospects will want to know things like file compatibility, browser compatibility, how you manage to maintain security and whether there is a noticeable lag in system response time. It’s a good idea to include all of this sort of information in your communications so that your prospects can get a full picture without having to speak to a sales person.

  6. Provide technical data in a chart, graphical or tabular format

    These formats are easy for engineers to digest. In the BOM example, you could include a table of all of the file formats supported, for example. Pricing information also lends itself very well to a tabular format.

  7. Update Bonus: Make the message accessible.

    There are numerous channels available to engineers now that just weren’t in the pitcture when we first published this article in 2014.  Engineers are now finding content through mediums like Social, on their mobile devices, and in formats other than articles and white papers.  Video is more important, for example. Mix up your message to maximize your chance of reaching all your prospects.  

If your team is running into challenges meeting your content creation goals, there are several engineering publishers who are happy to create content for engineers in the form of video, sponsored posts, white papers and webinars

If you are interested in ENGINEERING.com’s content creation services, you can find a menu on this page or download a media guide.

Thanks for reading,

John

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