As in so many other sectors, advanced engineering companies have had to transform the way they work in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The same can be said for technical marketers working in the industry who have been forced to relook at every element of their marketing strategy from traffic to the way they generate leads for the sales team. At the height of the early 2020 lockdown 24% of businesses were forced to cease trading temporarily while a fifth that normally exported had to change suppliers or find alternative solutions for their needs. Some have had to move entire workplaces to remote working. Those in manufacturing have had to pause production. And when it comes to technical marketing, face-to-face client meetings and sales presentations have become a thing of the past. For this reason, according to CSE Magazine it’s essential that engineering companies focus on
“strengthening client and employee relationships in an increasingly remote and digitised environment”.
There needs to be a seismic change in approach for technical marketers working within engineering companies. But as well as challenges there are real opportunities, with the shift to digital opening up powerful ways to connect and engage with buyers.
Technical marketers need to ramp up their content strategy
Since so many potential customers are working from home, they’re likely to be scanning the internet for product or industry information. Tap into this new reality by providing them with educational content, articles, Q&As, webinars and videos. Your engineers are subject experts, so draw on their expertise, but without distracting them too much from their work. Also, ramp up your blog content with informational posts. For example, share stories (‘mini case studies’, if you will) about successful business conducted by staff working from home. Make yourself relatable and, at the same time, illustrate how well your business has adapted. Now’s a great time to audit your marketing plans and tools; including marketing material and its distribution. Indeed, it’s most likely that your existing technical marketing collateral is not fit-for-purpose as it was before. Also, with physical meetings no longer an option, make sure your sales team can use your marketing content to its full potential. They need to master virtual client meetings and presentations. Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams require different approaches, so make sure staff have the requisite training.
Pre pandemic 73% of marketers said they already found webinars a useful way of generating quality leads. Now, with face-to-face gatherings out of the question, webinars offer an essential opportunity to get your marketing messages out there and connect with potential buyers. In fact, there are lots of good reasons to run webinars:
- They help to engage your existing pipeline.
- They help keep your brand top of mind to ensure you don’t lose market share before the recovery begins.
- They’re a powerful tool for showcasing thought-leadership and brand visibility.
- As part of a comprehensive content strategy, they provide you with opportunities to secure top of the funnel leads – leads that are critical to future sales success.
- They offer you a way to demonstrate technology and services – as well as enable you to highlight industry best practices.
Maintain your social media presence
Keep posting on social networks to keep you connected with customers and attract new users. Keep a check on analytics and expand your network using LinkedIn to reach out to colleagues to discuss technical marketing efforts.
Email marketing is a valuable way to keep in touch with customers
Keep in touch with customers so they know you’re alive and in control of the situation. Informational newsletters and updates should be sent out on a regular basis.
To be or not to be (present)
Covid-19 forced many trade shows to switch to virtual events in 2020. Others simply cancelled or pushed back a year. This has made many question the future of physical trade shows. Engineering companies that embraced digital have found that virtual events are not only a good alternative but also offer several distinct benefits over their face-to-face counterparts. These include:
- Cost savings on travel and accommodation
- The opportunity to reach a wider geographical audience
- The option to live-stream and provide pre-recorded sessions for playback later
- More opportunities to gather useful insights and lead generation data
According to the Centre for Trade Exhibition research 69% of companies that were planning physical events have opted to host virtual ones instead. Is this the future though? The engineering sector is different from others. Engineers who use software to design products will likely be more comfortable with virtual events, but the engineer is on the hunt for components, connectors or enclosures – or wants to compare the capabilities of companies offering PCB design services – there really is no substitute for a physical event. The near-term future is likely to be a mix of virtual and physical, possibly working side-by-side. Plan for both but don’t lose site of the fact that the attendees’ reasons for signing in to portal or travelling to an exhibition hall are the same whatever.
Despite the gigantic curveball Covid-19 has thrown at the engineering sector, companies that not only carry on marketing but also quickly align with the ‘new normal’ are more likely to see their sales improve in recovering and new markets.
“Technical marketers still need to be marketing – just differently”