What to Write — Marketing for the Engineer Entrepreneur
By Duane Benson
Yes, marketing is just getting the word out. The big challenge, though, comes in deciding which words to get out. In the marketing world, we call this “messaging,” and like so many things in marketing, it’s really more dependent on who will be reading it than who is writing it.
In marketing, what you want to say is less important than what a customer cares about. That doesn’t mean say what the customer wants to hear regardless of truth. That’s bad marketing.
No, it means to pull out the parts of the real story that a customer will care about, and toss the rest aside for now. No matter how important a fact is to you, if it’s not important to your audience, it’s simply not relevant. If it won’t help them make an intelligent purchasing decision. It’s not important right now, it will just get in the way.
It is possible to find examples that contradict this advice, but they generally involve significant amounts of money. One of the best goes back to the “Intel inside” advertising campaign. Before Intel started that campaign, few people outside of the tech world knew what a CPU is or what the difference is between CPUs — nor did they really care. Intel spent enough money to make people care. You don’t have that kind of money.
Picking words for marketing is actually quite closely related to product design. Product design is about learning what’s important to the person using your product. Messaging is about learning what elements of what your product does are important to the people buying your product; what aspects of you or your product will make a customer comfortable and confident enough to buy it.
As an engineer, you know that a muffler belt won’t work without a good solid polysided freem modulator. You know that your freem modulator is more polysided than any other on the market. It seems quite logical that a customer would need to know that. Right?
Some will. Some won’t. Understanding which camp your customers fall into can be the difference between growing your business, and looking for a job working for someone else.
If the minimum acceptable working polisidedness is 10, and yours is 20, should you focus on the fact that yours is 20, while your competitor’s is 17? If that’s what the majority of your customers care about, then, yes.
However, it’s entirely possible that your customers just care that polisideness is greater than 10, and beyond that, they care about something else. Given that, you may find that you over built, and would have been better off with 15 polished polisides instead of 17 or 20 unpolished polisides.
You may find that as long as you’re somewhere in the 13 – 17 polisidedness range, you don’t have to do more than just mention the fact. But, instead need to spend a lot of time writing about the specific type of freems your device can modulate.
That’s what messaging is about; the cross over of what your product does and what’s important to your customers. Find that and you will know what to write when trying to sell your product.
Duane Benson is the Chief Technology Champion at Screaming Circuits, a prototype PCB assembly electronic manufacturing company in Canby, Oregon.