Using Marketing to Promote Engineering – How to Attract a Tech Audience

  • Aurélie Fon, Product Marketing Manager and Vincent Pradeilles, Lead iOS software engineer, at Worldline

  • 30.03.2021 06:30 am
  • Marketing

It is safe to say that today, within marketing but also engineering, it is crucial to ensure you have the right fits, either of the market, the consumer or just the user. The latest changes in the market have proven the rising need for T-shaped profiles, individuals with deep knowledge and skills in a specialised area, along with ability to make connections across different disciplines. This translates into cross-functional teams who are required to combine mastering of technical skills – such as engineering – with some minimum level of business sensibility – which relates more to marketing. 

Simply put, marketing can be divided into two major families. First, there is the part which is visible to the mainstream, at the tip of the iceberg. This includes a wide variety of visible projects, such as street marketing, ads, events, merchandising as well as conferences when you are promoting tech products. The second layer – which is far less known and yet is quite significant – consists of different levels of depths ranging from simple retargeting (e.g. a customer sees these shoes all over the Internet again and again) to some more strategic marketing around segmenting, targeting and positioning – often fuelled with data science to empower decision-making.

Hitherto, it has been implied that marketing tools  best-fitted for B2C purposes and limited to mass-market products, which has now been proven wrong by many great players of the market. Marketing can and should be adapted to other audiences like B2B and tech, including those which would be considered as niche. 

As a software engineer, one of the authors would like to suggest that these tools are particularly well-fitted to promote knowledge related to engineering – under the form of technical content. 

Using marketing mix to promote engineering

Let us take the case of a developer with a few years of experience on a technology. They are doing a lot of conferences work on it and gradually become experts on it. They would like to share content, make it available publicly. One possibility for them is to start a blog to share article about their knowledge and their use of this technology.

It is quite certain that the moment the developer will start thinking about this project, they will have lots of questions and no idea how to answer them. These may include: “what should I write about?” “How will people discover my content?” “Who will be reading my blog?” “Where should I host my blog?” “How long should a good blog post be?”

It is possible, and even recommended, to use the marketing mix tools on their blog to seduce tech audiences. It deals with four most important variables which must be considered when designing a new product, also known as the “Four P” theory from McCarthy. Thus, it is a strategy to help its users achieve their goals and thus obtain some really good and actionable answers. 

The first “P” component is the product. What is the product when it comes to blog articles? A product needs to be aimed at a clear target audience. Avoid the approach to try and target ‘everyone’;   this strategy never works, as different users have different needs. For instance, you can either target beginners or experimented developers for readership. But you cannot do both without running the risk that your end product will appeal to neither groups. 

When choosing who to target, there are several criteria that may be used. Maybe you want to share some very advanced knowledge and so experts are going to be your primary target. Alternatively,  you may want to prioritise gaining visibility and it is worth remembering that there will always be more beginners than experimented developers. Our advice here would be to try and make separate content for both audiences, one article for each and to assess which article is the most enjoyable writing but also which one generates the best traction, the best momentum, the best visibility when you publish it. 

One solution to finding ideas on topics to write about is the “Google autocomplete hack”. When you start typing something on the Google Search engine, it will generate suggestions based upon what people have typed into Google because they were looking for an answer to this question. This tool is very useful because it lets one know not only what people want to learn about on any given subject, but also a topic that has either no or very little content available on Google. 

The second variable is the price. It does not necessarily refer to money, but also which resources are needed to sacrifice to acquire the product, i.e. the content. Of course, a blog article will be free to access. However, readers will invest time and attention to access the content. Therefore, it’s important to keep the investment bar at a reasonable level. Here again, our advice would be that you aim for a reading time between three and five minutes maximum.

The next variable is the place. Where should you host your blog? In 2020 it is quite easy to host content on the Internet, with a wide variety of alternatives available: blogging platforms (Mediums), host HTML content on GitHub pages, or perhaps use your company blog.  Both solutions are trouble-free, require limited time and enable you to focus on the content. A web developer will be tempted to build a fancy blog but that will not help make their content interesting. The author should prioritise content first and then focus on building a fancy technical blog eventually. You should not spend time and effort on hosting a blog article in 2020 when you are getting started. 

Also, specialised websites tend to be increasingly overcrowded with content – e.g.. GitHub and Medium. Thus, a proper marketing strategy can help to efficiently promote to a tech audience on a personal blog. 

Finally, the last aspect but also one of the most important, promotion. How should you make it for your content to be discovered? First you need to think about what your audience is, which brings us back to the product part. Then, the next questions are: where is your audience ‘located’? Where do you reach developers for example? In terms of social media, the two best choices are Twitter and LinkedIn. It is important to have a good-looking miniature to draw readers in. 

There are also the more “specialised” places; forums, sub-reddit, Slack which are dedicated to your technology where you can promote your content. This is where your audience is. Newsletters are another good promotion tool. It is worth reaching out to creators of newsletters related to your technology and content to request to be included. 

A final piece of advice is related to branding – which includes the author’s name and profile picture. It is very important that branding must remain constant throughout all the blog posts. 

Making usage of marketing tools to promote engineering products suggest that the former can and should be considered for any go-to-market strategy, including personal branding, as just mentioned. 

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