Smart Marketing For Engineers

Smart Marketing For Engineers

Marketing for EngineersRebecca Geier was the first marketing person I met at National Instruments in my first year after leaving manufacturing for media. She has remained a friend whom I respect.

A few years ago she left NI and founded TREW Marketing–an agency specializing in helping clients develop and execute marketing projects to an engineering customer.

She has written a book Smart Marketing for Engineers: An Inbound Guide to Reaching Technical Audiences which launches in mid-December on Amazon. She explains the book in a recent blog post.

She sent an early copy of the book to read and review. This is a comprehensive guide to the latest thinking of inbound marketing. It will help you understand the marketing landscape and also understand the unique ways to engage engineers.

Marketing To Technically Minded Audiences

Geier states on her blog, “I have seen firsthand that marketing to technically minded audiences does in fact work, but it has to be as smart as the people it targets. For small engineering and scientific businesses with limited resources or business and sales leaders wearing multiple hats, it’s difficult to even know where to start. And you’re skeptical that the new inbound approach to marketing will even work with your technical audiences.”

Here are three keys to understand the challenge.

“I wrote this book for you. Three points led me to decide to write this book:

  1. Engineers are smart, so our marketing needs to be equally smart, and trustworthy
  2. Buyers are in control…they decide when, where and what they will search on and do it mostly on Google
  3. Marketers now have the challenge and opportunity to get found when our target engineering audiences are searching”

If you are a company CEO or marketing director, do yourself a favor and not only buy the book, but digest its message.

Personal Update On Business of Manufacturing Connection

Personal Update On Business of Manufacturing Connection

If I haven’t seemed my usual prolific self, business has gotten in the way. Next week I’ll be at Emerson Exchange and life will start getting back to normal.

We constructed this Website to support advertising, but I decided not to directly sell advertising. That despite the fact that page views and click throughs are not bad relative to other sites.

All of a sudden, I got swamped.

Part of my work (hint) is individual research and analysis of pieces of the market. People seem to like my analytical capabilities. I have a couple of contracts that have kept me busy.

My long-time part-time job is assigning soccer referees to high school contests. This year has seen more changes and problems than ever before. I’ve always dealt with sportsmanship issues, but this past week has just about seen a record.

I also work with companies on various aspects of marketing–social media, inbound ideas, messaging, focus points (another hint). Some of that picked up.

Finally, I began to do a little angel investing. One of my investments needed marketing help–so, there I am learning the consumer side of Facebook for marketing. Check out High Grounds Cafe on Facebook.

Looking forward to some good industry news from Denver next week. Maybe I can try stirring up something that I didn’t from Sacramento a couple of weeks ago. I also have a pile of stuff to digest, analyze and report on. Coming soon!

Have a great fall weekend (or spring for my Brazilian friends).

Personal Update On Business of Manufacturing Connection

Manufacturing Industry Consolidation

What Does It Mean When An Industry Consolidates?

For companies in the control and automation space, as well as manufacturing in general, acquisitions power growth.

Rockwell Automation became a factor in process automation through a number of strategic acquisitions. Siemens fulfills its digital manufacturing vision through acquisitions. ABB, until recently, pursued a growth by acquisition strategy. Schneider Electric, keeping pace with European rivals swallowed Invensys—and much to my surprise seems intent on not only keeping but even building its software presence.

What is the result of acquisitions in an industry? Consolidation. And the result of consolidation? Less competition.

Writing in Industry Week Michael Collins, president of MPC Consulting, asks, Is Manufacturing Industry Consolidation Stifling Competition and Innovation?

That is a fair question. I have been surveying the industry in the two years after leaving Automation World (and Maintenance Technology, where I stayed briefly) looking for what’s new and interesting. The latest cool startup was ThingWorx, which sold to PTC. There are companies doing instrumentation, control and automation well, but not much really new or innovative.

Collins tries out a definition, “Capitalism is a free market system that is supposed to promote competition. In capitalist theory, competition leads to innovation and more affordable prices for consumers. Without competition, a monopoly, oligopoly or cartel may develop.”

This statement contains an amount of belief, but it does describe a market economy in keeping with the 18th Century “liberals” who valued “liberty” over government. The economic theory superseded mercantilism where the government picked winners and losers.

Wishing for more government regulation, Collins reviews history, “This formation of monopolies and oligopolies also occurred in the Gilded Age, when the robber barons controlled entire industries, including oil, railroads, steel and the telegraph. The consolidation did not stop until President Theodore Roosevelt broke up the monopolies using antitrust legislation.”

Today’s monopolies/oligopolies

Collins then surveys today’s consolidations:

  1. Airlines
  2. Banks–“In 1995, the six biggest U.S. banks had assets equal to 18% of GDP. Today, they hold assets of about 63% of GDP.
  3. Search Engines–The search engine business is dominated by Google, which, according to Forbes, owns 90% of the market in non-mobile search worldwide.
  4. Media Companies–In 1983, 50 companies controlled the vast majority of news media including newspaper, magazines, radio and TV stations, books, movies, videos, and wire services. Consolidation reduced the original number to 24 companies by 1992 and to six companies by 2000. Today, five corporations—Time Warner, Disney, News Corp., Bertelsmann (of Germany) and Viacom control the majority of the U.S. media industry.
  5. Hospitals

Manufacturing industries also have consolidated:

  1. Meat Packers–In 1982, the five largest meatpackers controlled 16% of the meat industry. Today four firms control 85% of the beef market, an oligopoly that includes National Beef, Cargill, Tyson, and JBS (which purchased Swift).
  2. Microsoft
  3. Intel
  4. Beer–At that time (1970s), there were 43 firms making beer, and the largest had 25% of the market. Today two firms—Anheuser Busch and Miller/Coors—own 90% of the non-craft beer market.
  5. Autos–The auto industry is now a global industry where five multinational companies have 50% of the world market. The top 10 auto manufacturers control 70% of the world market. [Note: and now the Chrysler CEO is drumming up support for a merger with GM.]
  6. Oil and Gas–Exxon merged with Mobil Oil and Conoco merged with Phillips. Along with Chevron and Occidental Petroleum, these four giants have 70% of all oil produced in the U.S. (1,919 barrels).

Collins concludes:

I think it is in the DNA of capitalism to create oligopolies and monopolies, and they can only be restricted by government regulation.

Gary Responds

Often consolidation is a reflection of a mature industry. Not much is happening. It’s an industry ripe for disruption.

A number of entrepreneurs are trying innovative airline models. Who knows when one will “take off”, so to speak?

Doctors are forming small companies, removing outpatient surgery and other services out of the hospitals.

Brewery consolidation means companies run by finance people rather than product people. While many will buy according to price even if the taste is not there, the interesting end of the market is now wide open among small craft brewers. When I travel, I always ask for the local beer.

Microsoft is being pressured by Linux in the enterprise and smartphone and tablet products in the low end. Google docs are a viable alternative to Office.

Intel is pressured on many sides with new competition.

Software as a Service models are pressuring the major automation software companies. And open source hardware and software threaten disruption of those markets.

Innovation often comes from outside the dominant market leader group. It is difficult to predict. But there is no doubt disruption is occurring. What’s that famous phrase? “The future is here, just not evenly distributed.” Yep.

Marketing and Product Development Essentials

Marketing and Product Development Essentials

Fluke Tour May 6One more note from my visit with Fluke last week. The first day of meetings was devoted to a conversation/focus group with a number of customers, partners and “bloggers” (me).

Voice of Customer

We were introduced to the product development process for its latest vibration-sensing tool. Their process is iterative—discovering problems customers have, watching how people actually do things now, coming up with ideas for solutions, returning to the customers for feedback, then iterating again until the final product is released.

This “Voice of the Customer” is sacred within the company.

Fluke uses a technique called shadowing where Fluke team members follow a customer technician around and record how he/she uses the tool. They notice things like awkward angles or how they play with control buttons with their thumbs.

I’ve talked with another company in the past that sends all members of the executive team out annually to shadow a customer. It helps them see customer successes and feel customer’s pain. That was a great idea.

I’d suggest that Fluke take its shadowing methodology and expand it from development of a specific tool into a routine for senior managers as a way to get ideas and get a feel for the customers.

Otherwise, speaking as a guy with some product development experience, I like what I see.

Not every company is as sensitive to customers as Fluke.

Coffee Blunder

I’m a coffee fanatic. I buy Fair Trade beans and have invested in a coffee shop that will source beans directly from farmers that our buyer has met. In a past life, I was a volunteer coordinator for an organization called Bread for the World. I studied the impact of corporate farms in developing nations.

I say that to explain my passion for a good cup of coffee. Keurig cup-at-a-time coffee makers have swept the nation in popularity. The company also invented and patented K-cups—the single use coffee container. But, I buy my own beans. I’d rather do that than be captive to whatever companies pay Keurig for the opportunity to sell through its distribution. So, I use the reusable metal mesh filter cup.

The K-cups are wasteful, add another layer of distribution waste and expense, driving down the revenue to the farmer.

They are also more expensive to the customer. Whenever technology and marketing come together, it seems that customer lock-in is the result.

Keurig decided to add a sensor, just like the ink jet printer people, that senses the presence of “official” K cups in its latest Keurig 2 machines. This is, of course, to force people to buy coffee only from them.

Sales dropped. The CEO last week said that evidently customers didn’t like that idea. “They like to buy their own beans.” Duh! A little bit of sensitivity to customers would have told them that.

Takeaway

Take a lesson from this tale of two companies. Be more like Fluke (and in the spirit of competition improve on its system). Don’t be the other “Rob Lowe”.

 

And if you are asked to participate, please do. Your experience will help the entire industry improve.

Construct a Website That Builds Business-Automation Integrators Lag

Construct a Website That Builds Business-Automation Integrators Lag

Jon DiPietroAuthentia has published a comprehensive study of the control system integrator industry’s digital marketing performance. You can find additional information on the author’s blog. Many industrial/manufacturing industries lag behind in their adoption of modern digital marketing practices, largely due to target demographics that have been slow to embrace social media and mobile computing. This has especially been the case in the control system integrator industry. However, with digital trends accelerating and workforce demographics rapidly changing, businesses are being forced to adapt quickly.

[Disclaimer: I have a relationship with Authentia; I also hired it to construct a Website for Maintenance Technology magazine; Jon DiPietro built this site for me two years ago. Obviously, I like their work.]

Authentia randomly selected 100 North American control system integrators and assessed their digital marketing effectiveness against 32 separate criteria. The results indicate areas of opportunity for control system integrators to take advantage of industry-wide latencies. Owners, business developers, and marketing professionals will find this information valuable in assessing their own efforts and opportunities against their peers and competitors.

“With my background in industrial controls and leadership positions in the International Society of Automation (ISA), control system integrators are near and dear to my heart,” said Authentia Strategic Marketing Consultant Jon DiPietro. “I have many friends and colleagues who work in that industry. Over the past few years, I’ve conducted dozens of digital marketing assessments for control system integrators and other automation companies. I thought it would be interesting to conduct an industry-wide assessment and see how the industry as a whole is adapting to digital marketing trends.”

Key findings from the report include:

Websites are outdated in terms of messaging and technology:

  • 79% of CSI websites we analyzed make site visits from a mobile device difficult or impossible, alienating nearly half of their web visitors.
  • 48% of the website cannot easily change site content or even enable blogging, as they do not use a Content Management System (CMS).
  • 45% of all sites studied make no attempt to establish trust with site visitors through the use of social proof, such as testimonials, awards, certifications, memberships, etc.

Search engine marketing is nearly non-existent in the industry:

  • 3% of websites surveyed were determined to be paying for advertisements on search engines.
  • 85% of CSI websites had a Domain Authority below 40, which is a measure of how much clout a website carries with search engines.
  • 42% of websites did not have any analytics operating which track their performance.

The industry has not yet adopted content marketing as a strategy:

  • 67% of those studied do not list or promote social media accounts, such as Facebook or LinkedIn
  • 65% of websites have no blog or news feed.
  • 12% had a blog and published industry-focused content (as opposed to company news).
  • 88% of websites surveyed did not incorporate social sharing buttons, making their content difficult to find and share.

There are very few mechanisms in place to interact with prospects:

  • 2% of websites were connected to a marketing automation tool.
  • 84% of websites surveyed did not utilize visible call-to-action buttons.
  • 95% of websites failed to use landing pages, which contain an offer designed to collect information from prospects.

The 2015 Control System Integrator Digital Marketing Benchmark Report can be downloaded for free at www.authentiasoft.com/2015-csi.

End Note

I just went through my list of RSS feeds for blogs and Website changes that I’ve accumulated over the past several years. No fewer than 20 of them had not been updated for two years. I could not believe the number of companies who started a very good information and content system, and then they just bailed out on it. When I think of the lost opportunities for these companies, I just shudder.

Construct a Website That Builds Business-Automation Integrators Lag

Construct a Website That Builds Business-Automation Integrators Lag

Jon DiPietroAuthentia has published a comprehensive study of the control system integrator industry’s digital marketing performance. You can find additional information on the author’s blog. Many industrial/manufacturing industries lag behind in their adoption of modern digital marketing practices, largely due to target demographics that have been slow to embrace social media and mobile computing. This has especially been the case in the control system integrator industry. However, with digital trends accelerating and workforce demographics rapidly changing, businesses are being forced to adapt quickly.

[Disclaimer: I have a relationship with Authentia; I also hired it to construct a Website for Maintenance Technology magazine; Jon DiPietro built this site for me two years ago. Obviously, I like their work.]

Authentia randomly selected 100 North American control system integrators and assessed their digital marketing effectiveness against 32 separate criteria. The results indicate areas of opportunity for control system integrators to take advantage of industry-wide latencies. Owners, business developers, and marketing professionals will find this information valuable in assessing their own efforts and opportunities against their peers and competitors.

“With my background in industrial controls and leadership positions in the International Society of Automation (ISA), control system integrators are near and dear to my heart,” said Authentia Strategic Marketing Consultant Jon DiPietro. “I have many friends and colleagues who work in that industry. Over the past few years, I’ve conducted dozens of digital marketing assessments for control system integrators and other automation companies. I thought it would be interesting to conduct an industry-wide assessment and see how the industry as a whole is adapting to digital marketing trends.”

Key findings from the report include:

Websites are outdated in terms of messaging and technology:

  • 79% of CSI websites we analyzed make site visits from a mobile device difficult or impossible, alienating nearly half of their web visitors.
  • 48% of the website cannot easily change site content or even enable blogging, as they do not use a Content Management System (CMS).
  • 45% of all sites studied make no attempt to establish trust with site visitors through the use of social proof, such as testimonials, awards, certifications, memberships, etc.

Search engine marketing is nearly non-existent in the industry:

  • 3% of websites surveyed were determined to be paying for advertisements on search engines.
  • 85% of CSI websites had a Domain Authority below 40, which is a measure of how much clout a website carries with search engines.
  • 42% of websites did not have any analytics operating which track their performance.

The industry has not yet adopted content marketing as a strategy:

  • 67% of those studied do not list or promote social media accounts, such as Facebook or LinkedIn
  • 65% of websites have no blog or news feed.
  • 12% had a blog and published industry-focused content (as opposed to company news).
  • 88% of websites surveyed did not incorporate social sharing buttons, making their content difficult to find and share.

There are very few mechanisms in place to interact with prospects:

  • 2% of websites were connected to a marketing automation tool.
  • 84% of websites surveyed did not utilize visible call-to-action buttons.
  • 95% of websites failed to use landing pages, which contain an offer designed to collect information from prospects.

The 2015 Control System Integrator Digital Marketing Benchmark Report can be downloaded for free at www.authentiasoft.com/2015-csi.

End Note

I just went through my list of RSS feeds for blogs and Website changes that I’ve accumulated over the past several years. No fewer than 20 of them had not been updated for two years. I could not believe the number of companies who started a very good information and content system, and then they just bailed out on it. When I think of the lost opportunities for these companies, I just shudder.