Engineers are inherently skeptical when hearing a potential partner is an expert. The reality is that expertise is easy to claim but hard to prove. Technical decision influencers want to be able to back up their recommendations with proof.
We frequently work with clients who want their content to tell the reader that they are the expert in their industry:
- “Global leader in CNC machining”
- “Product development expert”
- “Industry-leading data center hardware support”
What do these statements really say?
Becoming a global leader could translate to a multinational company offering engineering, product, and process support to its clients, or a small shop with one CNC machine supplying parts to a Toronto-based customer.
A product development expert could convey either modern, Agile project management with stage-gate rigor, or someone who tweaked a formula to create a slight variation on an existing blend.
Industry-leading support could mean a company staffed with 24/7 technical support to ensure near-perpetual uptime or a startup that sends its best technical resource to its client when problems crop up and is willing to do so at any time.
The point is that these statements while triggering initial interest for the reader on a website, ring hollow when there is nothing behind them. They amount to a soft marketing claim that actually turns off engineers who value substance and data over marketing fluff and chest-pounding.
The differentiating statements should become the conclusion, not the thesis.
The secret is to create differentiated content, to demonstrate how you developed expertise in a given area, and what you do better than your competitors. Here are 3 tools you can implement right now to back up your core strength.
Know Your True Core Competency
It sounds simple, but so many companies do not realize their real value proposition. They focus on who they want to be rather than who they are. One of the best ways to check this point is to solicit feedback from clients or suppliers. As integrated as engineering projects have become with other disciplines, such as marketing and supply chain, tapping an external colleague gives you a mirror from which to see your offer. What did you do that they loved? And are you getting the same message from various sources? If so, SHOUT IT in your content, and share the testimonials.
Say “No” More
To be an expert in something, you have to actively NOT be an expert in something else. Saying no is a significant theme on which many firms are starting to focus. The lesson many scaling businesses have learned is that while the cowboy environment of startup culture is fun, chasing revenue from any source has a practical limit. It also dilutes your focus and hampers the learning curve for your specialty. Even large companies with many divisions operate with this principle; they either outsource help or refer the client elsewhere if the fit is not right. If the project is not something you already do well, it can compromise your brand. And if it is not an area in which you want to grow, there is no sense in risking your reputation and wasting the client’s time.
State Who Else You’ve Helped, and By How Much
Clients have to see how you will help them solve a problem. Leveraging case studies of similar firms inspires confidence. If you can divulge a tangible impact, such as a 45% improvement in product performance or a 30% cost/mass reduction for a product, the technical reader can be confident that their project won’t be your first time around the track. As averse to risk as engineers are, this is critical to moving them down the funnel toward engagement.
Identifying what you do best, rejecting distracting projects, and giving examples of how you helped other clients bolsters your differentiating claims. If you are an expert, you should be able to show how, when, and for whom you developed the expertise. Having this information in your content reinforces the differentiator, and allows your prospective client to learn about some possible outcomes in a field he’s confident you own.
“What is your biggest differentiator, and how are you communicating it in your content?”
Need help identifying and developing engineering target personas? Reach out to the team at ASK Consulting! Our specialty is understanding what motivates engineers, and providing expert content marketing to educate our clients about what they need to know – because we are engineers.