As Engineers, we hate hype. And we know that our clients hate it as well. That is why the type of marketing that we see all around us does not work. Our clients are sophisticated buyers. They just want the facts. They are more than capable of doing their own research and they can smell marketing B.S. a mile off. They expect honesty and authenticity.
We know ourselves. When we are searching for a solution to a complex problem, we prefer to do our own research - before ever speaking to a business development or sales person. But, we still have to market our own services - so how do we do it authentically? Here is the 5 step process that I use with my private clients. I think you will find it useful.
Marketing for Engineers - Action Steps
STEP 01 - SOLVE A DESPERATE PROBLEM (A "BLEEDING NECK")
We must strive to solve our clients most urgent and desperate problems. I call them "bleeding necks". These are the problems that clients make fast decisions on. They also deliver greater margin to the firm that can provide a fast(and ideally unique) solution
STEP 02 - PROVIDE OVERWHELMING PROOF
It is not enough to just say that you can solve an urgent problem for a client. You need to be able to back it up with proof.
STEP 03 - CREATE "THOUGHT LEADERSHIP" CONTENT
If you can solve a desperate problem in a unique way, that is something your market will be intensely interested in hearing about. You need to create a great piece of content that describes how you provide a solution. That will position you as a market authority and the logical choice for prospective clients.
STEP 04 - RE-PURPOSE THAT CONTENT
Clients consume content in many different modes. Some prefer video, others audio - and others just want to print off a text file and attack it with a highlighter. Give them what they want. This is called re-purposing your content.
STEP 05 - CLAIM YOUR "VIRTUAL REAL ESTATE"
Now here is a critical point. If you have a great piece of thought leadership content, don't waste it on someone else's platform - at least not initially. Publish it on your own website or blog first! The big tech giants have provided massive platforms but they are missing one thing - our content! Our content is very valuable. If it is on our own web property, we have claimed a piece of "virtual real estate". Now, we want to promote that content (with re-purposed articles) on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and everywhere else. However, we want to link those articles back to our own property. That is only one we control.
HERE ARE SOME MORE DETAILS ON THE FIVE STEPS:
Step 1 - Solve a Desperate (Bleeding Neck) Problem
Yes, I know that we solve lots of problems for our clients. But the problem that we ourselves face is that it is getting harder and harder to make money out of solving difficult engineering problems - and sales cycles are getting longer and longer. My advice to my engineering consulting clients is to make a list of all the problems that they solve and then market solutions to the most difficult problems - the "bleeding necks" - one traget market at a time.
Why the "Bleeding Necks"?
Urgent problems require urgent solutions. Clients will move fast to solve a desperate (bleeding neck) problem and they will pay more for your services. They are also a lot less likely to shop around.
Yes, I know that in these days of political correctness, some may frown on the term. However, I make no apology for it. My clients understand it and they make more money faster when they base their marketing on solving "bleeding neck" problems for their clients. I suggest you make a list of all the problems that your target market is faced with and then market your solutions to the most desperate - the "bleeding necks".
Step 2 - Provide "Overwhelming Proof" that you can Solve the Desperate Problem
This is what your clients are looking for. It is not enough to simply say what you can do for a client. You need to be able to back it up.
You Cannot Have too Much Proof
You cannot have too much proof. It is well worth spending a bit of extra time, after you finish a project, to get a written testimonial from a satisfied client. A video testimonial is even better. Also, the "About Us" section of your website is usually one of your most visited pages. Make sure that this page mentions (or links to) awards, media coverage and the types of important project successes that you have had in the past.
Step 3 - Create "Thought Leadership" Content Around your Solution to the "bleeding Neck" problem
This is where you can demonstrate innovative ways that you can solve client problems. Ideally you want the solution to be be one that you are uniquely placed to provide
Be "Intellectually Stimulating"
Your content cannot be boring. It must be intellectually stimulating. Hetre is the reaction that you want your content to trigger with clients:
"That's a really interesting solution. I have not seen that before. That could really work for me. I think I better give this group a call"
Step 4 - Re-Purpose Your Content
Now you want to to slice and dice your content into multiple different formats. Remember, people consume content in many different ways
Speak your Content. Do NOT Write it!
Engineers and technology specialists do not normally enjoy writing. It can take forever. I always encourage my clients to start "top-down" - usually by just speaking into a smartphone app and having the content transcribed. Here is the one that I use on a daily basis: https://www.rev.com/voicerecorder. By using your smart phone as a dictaphone you are quickly getting your best thoughts out of your head and onto a digital format. From there you can delegate the wordsmithing to an assistant - who will likely do a much better and faster job.
Step 5 - Create and Protect your own "Virtual Real Estate"
Now, you just have to spread the word. You can get someone on your team to publish your content. BUT, make sure you publish content on your own website or blog FIRST! Thought leadership content is valuable. Do NOT give it to some social media platform until you have published it on your own platform. Your own website is your own piece of "virtual real estate" . You need to build up your own authority. That will help with your organic (free) Google rankings and give other potential clients a better chance of finding you.
Then Publish on Other Platforms
Now that you have staked your claim for own piece of "virtual real estate" you should publish your content elsewhere - and link back to your own site.
When visitors are on your own site, you have much more control over the experience. They are less likely to be distracted by shiny objects from others. Also, you can more easily point them towards a "call to action" on your own site. They are on your territory - not someone else's.
Suggested platforms for thought leadership B2B content are Linkedin and Youtube.
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