Don’t be Vague – Engineers hate ambiguity. Saying that a certain product or technology “significantly increases production or throughput” might sound like an effective value message, but unless you have data to support such a claim, it likely won’t carry too much weight. That’s not to say that making a general statement about the benefits of a product isn’t an effective way to spark interest in a reader and entice him or her to dig a bit deeper into your business. However, if their search leads to additional material that doesn’t provide some degree of validation (customer success story, case study, etc.), any chance of acquiring a new customer will go out the window.
Skip the Basics – One mistake I see a lot when reading marketing material meant for engineers is that too much of the content is used to explain basic concepts that the reader likely already knows. For instance, if your primary target is a rotating equipment engineer and you offer a product that protects against surging in centrifugal compressors, there’s no need to go into great detail about what surging is and why it happens. Instead, try opening up with a more impactful statement or relevant statistic like, “a recent study conducted by XXX found that surging causes XX number of dollars in equipment downtime every year.” In some cases, certain pieces of collateral such as white papers, long-form articles or thought leadership papers will afford you the opportunity to touch on basic concepts, but when space and word count are limited, it's best to avoid an introductory lesson on the topic all together.
Always Answer “How” – Above all else, engineers want to know how something works. How does a new piece of technology reduce downtime by 20%... How does it improve throughput….How is it going to improve efficiency at my plant. In many instances, marketers spend too much time talking about the problem that their technology solves and why it’s important to the industry. What they forget is that the engineer is likely reading their material in the first place because he or she is experiencing that very problem -- so there’s no need to waste time and space explaining its consequences. The space should instead be spent focusing on the solution, explaining the methodology behind what makes your technology work and to what degree it can impact a company or facility’s bottom line.
Be Conversational – Many marketers are under the impression that in order to effectively communicate with engineers, you have to sound like an engineer. This often consists of sentence upon sentence of dry, technical, user manual-like speak. It’s important to remember, however, that engineers are still humans, and like many non-engineers, they’d much prefer to read content that is informative and insightful, as opposed to something that sounds like the troubleshooting guide to their T.V. remote. So it’s okay if the voice of your marketing content is light and conversational, just so long as it provides answers to the problem that the engineer is looking to solve.
Think Logic, Not Emotion – Contrary to popular belief, engineers do have emotions. However, unlike the typical consumer, they generally don’t let those emotions get in the way of their buying decisions. One of the first rules of writing effective ad copy is to generate emotion in your reader -- but when the reader is an engineer (or any technical professional for that matter), it might be best to avoid it.
Alex Misiti is a freelance technical writer / copywriter who works with clients in the oil and gas, energy, manufacturing, and process control industries. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org