01 Sep Engineering Business – 2 Keys to Improving Your Marketing Efforts
Have you every try to find a book specifically on marketing for an engineering firm at the book store or library. Well, if you are like many other engineers who have tried, you found no such book. There are several books available on the market that are specifically written for the professional service business, but often these books cover the professional service business in general. Real estate agents do not market the same way as accountants, or as doctors, or as architects, or as engineers. This is because the engineering client base is different. Real Estate agents tend to market to the general public who are in the market for a home or property, while an accountant generally markets to other businesses. Marketing strategies are different for different types of business, but they all have the same goal; To get the word out about the products and services of a particular business.
Marketing strategies addresses certain needs discussed by the company's Marketing Plan. The company may find weakness in it marketing campaigns and addresses those areas in the plan with strategies to improve the company's results.
An example would be the company is finding it difficult to find leads. The company reviews its marketing efforts and finds during the leading Generation Phase the staff does not ask the current and past clients for additional work. The marketing team adds to the Marketing Plan a section that discusses that the cheapest and best clients are their existing and past clients. All they require is periodic contact and follow-up. The company then trains the staff to the proper technique to ask clients for additional work.
The marketing team also finds that their company has been spending a large sum of money on advertisements in the newspaper and phone book. These advertisements have led to poor quality and expensive leads. The team decides to revise the Marketing Plan to reduce the advertising campaign to a more manageable budget, and redirect the advertising to attending networking events which have historically led to better qualified leads. The marketing efforts are not reduced, but the expense budget has been reduced.
For the most part professionals are really good at their chosen profession, and are really good at working with their existing clients, but not as good at marketing. An engineer must realize that the typical marketing strategies that most other types of businesses employ do not apply to engineering. The marketing strategies that apply to the engineering profession are fairly inexpensive, but do require time to develop. The most effective to least effective tactics to gaining new clients are personal contact; Networking; Building referrals; Public speaking; Writing; And publicity. Also note that these tactics are reliably inexpensive, and work in all of four stages of marketing.
Now, let's discuss a couple of key strategies that get results.
Key 1: Personal Contact – The best marketing is simply speaking to someone. You receive a referral on someone who may need your services through your contact list. Your next step is to contact this individual. In engineering this can be accomplished by using the personal visit, phone, meetings, sending mailers, and emailing.
One-on-One – How many times has a client of yours introduced you personally to a friend of their in the business, or a friend of the people who needs your help? These are the best referrals. Not only are they already sold on your abilities, but they are already pre-screened. In these situations you want to have your 10-second commercial ready to go, and you to leave your business cards with them.
Phone Call – Your first contact maybe through a phone call. If the person you are calling has been referred to you by someone you know, then this is a warm call. If you are calling this person out of the blue then he is a cold call. Typically the warmer the call the more likely they will want to talk to you.
Meeting – You may decide to meet a prospect over lunch or coffee. A lot of meetings are held in coffee shops. It is a relaxed environment and you are not distracted by the operations of the business. In some cases the prospective lead may want to meet you in their office to go over the details of your services. Meetings do require a lot time; Setting-up the meeting, traveling to the meeting, waiting for everyone to arrive, the meeting itself, and traveling back from the meeting. So it is a good idea to pre-screen your lead to reassure yourself that the time invested is worth it.
Sending Mailers – Sometimes the best way to make contact is to simply send a personal letter, not a boiler plate, to someone you think really needs your services. The letter needs to be tailor to their needs. You may want to attach something like related articles, conference invitations, or newsletters. You will want to follow this letter with a phone call. Instead of a letter, you may want to introduce yourself by sending a postcard with your web-site, and later follow-up with a phone call.
Emails – Instead of paying for postage you may want to send an email. Many people prefer emails over phone calls and mailers, because they can open the message when they are ready and they can save the message in an electronic folder. But the disadvantage is that you do not know if they received the email or if they even opened the message. And some businesses receive so many emails that they may not even notice yours. If you do decide to send an email, make it personal by providing links to articles, e-zines, conferences, invitations to meetings, conferences, training programs, and websites that you think may be of interest to them.
Key 2: Networking – Networking is somehow the best way for an engineering company to market its services. Networking is nothing more than finding and communicating with your prospective clients. An effective networking event creates a pool of contacts that you can exploit to find new clients, make referrals, and gather information. This can be accomplished by attending professional meetings, visiting their online communities, having lunch with existing and former clients, volunteering and serving on missions, swapping contacts, and giving referrals. By effectively networking you will find a number of new clients that are looking for someone like you.
Start talking to anyone and everyone you know and ask if they need your services or if they know someone who might need your services. Networking and Personal is two of the main key strategies for engineers to market their services.
Most engineers have excellent technical skills, but not necessarily the same level of expertise in business. It is the responsibility of the engineer to develop these business skills through continuing education. This continuing education can be obtained through Community Colleges, Universities, Professional Training Programs, Professional Organizations, and online training courses. In most states these continuing education courses qualify for continuing education units (CEU) or Professional Development Hours (PDH).
Read our other articles about more marketing strategies that can help your company find more leads and win more contracts.