Website Information "Must-Haves" for Successful Marketing to Engineers
Introduction to SignalsFromTheOP
Guide to episode
- Success in marketing to engineers requires that you satisfy their need for detailed information. Yet many companies are hesitant to make technical details, drawings and pricing information publicly available online.
- If you fail to do so, many will select you "out" - that's the biggest risk.
- Competitor access, customized vs. standard product details, and scaring buyers away are common concerns.
- Providing the info not only helps prospects and buyers be comfortable, but it can help to differentiate your company from others in the process.
Hi, I’m Ed Marsh. Welcome to this episode of Signals from the OP. I create these brief videos every two weeks to poke at traditional mindsets common among industrial manufacturing company execs. If you know of one who you think might find some value, please share it with them.
Change is Uncomfortable - But Buying Habits Demand You Adapt
My goal is to blow some minds today. So, without hesitation, let’s see how many people I can make uncomfortable in very short order! Let’s talk about all the information that should be public and even downloadable on your website to support effective marketing to engineers.
Let’s start with some background. Buying habits have changed and buying teams are expanding. That means that companies with complex sales and long sales cycles – like big-ticket capital equipment – have a lot to manage. They face growing buying teams – often 10 to 15 people – and buying journeys that bounce back and forth from virtual to personal.
They can’t possibly engage with each buying team member at each stage in the buying journey. Further, some of the buying roles have a preference to do their own research online, and long lists of technical details and information they feel they require to make rational and logical decisions.
On the one hand, this makes industrial marketing more complex. On the other, many buyers are clear about what they expect...if we only listen to them.
Marketing to Engineers Requires Special Approaches
Engineers particularly are inclined to research extensively online and to eschew sales engagement. And they’re often the ones building short lists of potential vendors for projects.
They want to be able to easily find and reference detailed technical and commercial information. If it’s not available or easy to find on your website, they’ll often move on. If it’s there to some degree, but requires sales engagement, they may skip it, opting instead for competitors whose equipment may not be as good, but who provide a more comfortable buying experience.
Therefore, it’s critically important to provide a variety of detailed information on your website as part of B2B technical marketing programs.
Now, you’re probably saying “Makes sense. No big deal. Why are we talking about this?”
Well, here’s the rub. When we get down to the details of what you should make available, you’ll probably recoil. For instance, pricing, downloadable drawings (3D drawing files, PIM files, etc.), and implementation/integration information.
In my experience manufacturers are strongly opposed to sharing this information with anyone that isn’t a qualified prospect, even in some cases anyone that hasn’t executed an NDA. So the idea of publishing this on their industrial B2B website is heresy.
You may share this reaction and probably have several reasons. You may:
- be concerned that competitors will access the information
- worry that solutions are so routinely and significantly customized that you can’t offer “standard” information
- feel that it will be used to select you out of deals where your sales team could create an application even if the buyers are looking for something different
Those are legitimate concerns and we’ll look at each.
But here’s the larger, opposing concern that gets little attention. Many technical buyers will select you OUT if they can’t access this information – so the number of opportunities that your sales team misses is likely larger if you don’t do it.
But let’s look at each concern in more detail.
Revealing Info to Competitors
First, providing information to competitors.
Obviously, you’re not going to provide trade secrets or confidential information. But pricing isn’t confidential – your entire price list may be, but you send proposals to prospects and customers alike, and some procurement people will share those documents or even lie about your pricing in negotiation. Your competitors generally know your pricing already, just as you know about your competitors’ pricing.
Similarly, downloadable 3D drawings can represent the outside dimensions, access panels, operator access, etc. that competitors can easily survey during a plant tour or at a trade show - so you can offer drawings without the guts and component information that they can’t easily access.
And of course, pricing can be general – with ranges provided for common installations.
Standard Answers for Customized Applications
Second, you may worry about providing generic information that doesn’t account for the required customization inherent in each application.
I’ve got several responses to this. First, even with customization, your sales probably follow a Pareto distribution with the majority falling within a fairly consistent range of capabilities and pricing. That gives you an easy place to start.
Second, by all means, include language that indicates that each application is different and that seemingly small differences in capabilities can have a large impact on specs, design, and pricing.
Third, at the stage when prospects are looking at pricing on your website they don’t need or expect precise answers – they’re looking for approximations.
BTW, here’s a pro tip.
Your pricing page should be a huge lead conversion source. By listing pricing and making it easy for prospects to find, you help them scratch their research itch. But a well-designed chatbot on that page can offer some additional “self-serve” pricing customization, and you can reasonably guide visitors to an RFQ for (even an initial “Budgetary Quote”) process that will likely create more leads by offering a helpful path that provides more information.
Scare Prospects Away
The third common concern is that you’ll turn prospects off with the information. If you’re simply trying to inflate lead numbers, this is possibly legitimate. But if you’re trying to find likely buyers and connect them with your sales team, it’s not.
This can actually serve as a qualifying function by helping to ensure that your sales team doesn’t engage with prospects who self-select out.
Chatbots and popups can be very effective at engaging people who take certain action on a page (e.g., click a “See Detailed Pricing” link) and then show page exit intent. This can create a dynamic and responsive engagement.
Finally, nothing says that you can’t put some information behind some gates. For instance, you could have a public price range, then offer a “See Detailed Pricing” link which requires a business email address to open a window with more detail. That email address can be used for follow-up with prospects that look promising based on sales rep research or data enrichment based on the email domain, by sending some automated emails that offer a quote and some more details and some application insights.
Let Your Marketing Differentiate Your Business for Busy Engineers
Interestingly, you can also use this experience and information to differentiate your company. Why not create a “prospect portal” where registered users can access more detailed information than the public. You can create conditional registration – you approve who has access – and provide them a customized research experience in which you help them do the work they feel strongly that they must do.
Built on top of an effective blogging strategy, customer portal, knowledge base, custom objects, and dynamic content, this can help turn your website into a hugely effective business tool across the entire customer lifecycle.
Buyers Will Assume You're Hiding Something if You Don't Make This Information Easy to Find
The bottom line is that buyers who are gateway members of buying teams (like engineers who will qualify solutions out or in) expect to have access to info without agreeing to sales meetings.
If you fail to provide the info they expect, you’ll reduce the effectiveness of your marketing to engineers. When you do provide it, you raise common and understandable concerns, but as we work through those concerns, we often find they may be less applicable in today’s markets and/or we can use technology to solve for the underlying issues.
A great B2B industrial website includes lots of easily navigable commercial and technical information for technical buyers. You’ve got to provide the info they request. And you can take it a step further and differentiate your company from competitors by making it an even richer experience.
I’m Ed Marsh. Thank you for joining me for this episode of Signals from the OP. If you enjoyed it, please share it and subscribe – either to my YouTube channel EdMarshSpeaks.TV or at the related blog SignalsFromTheOP.com.