Four uncommon content ideas for marketing to engineers

September 16, 2019 by
Uncommon content ideas for marketing to engineers

If you're marketing to engineers, you should already know this.

Engineers crave efficiency. They want things to work better. They want to work better themselves. And faster. That’s their mindset.

So naturally, engineers are tool users. They love good tools, and they’re always looking for better ones. If you offer them a tool that can help them—even if they didn’t know they needed it—they’ll be interested.

_

Satisfying the thirst for efficiency

One of my clients has built their entire marketing strategy around this desire for efficiency. QRA Corp builds software tools for requirements engineering and system verification. They target engineers with most of their marketing content.

Just as they do with their products, QRA designs all their lead-gen content to be truly useful. They seek to start a conversation and build trust by providing content that helps engineers work more efficiently. Yet, most of that content doesn’t require the use of any of QRA’s products.

QRA’s content creation process is simple. They talk to their customers and prospects, find out what they’re lacking, and develop it for them.

I’ve been helping QRA create marketing content for several years now. And when it comes to lead generation, much of that content has been rather unusual.  It has also been highly successful. Let's look at four uncommon content ideas that have worked for them. Perhaps they’ll generate ideas that will be successful for you.

1. Best Practices Guide

The very first project I wrote for QRA was titled “21 Top Engineering Tips for Writing an Exceptionally Clear Requirements Document”. Sounds like a tip sheet, but it’s much more. It’s a compilation of all the requirements engineering (RE) best practices we could collect, along with a summary checklist. QRA hired me to write it, because I have a background in RE and systems engineering.

21 Tips has proven itself valuable to systems engineers and business analysts, because it’s hard to find a comprehensive list of RE best practices that's practical and easy to use. And it’s useful on its own; it doesn't pitch QRA's RE product.

It has also proven valuable to QRA. 21 Tips was promoted almost exclusively by word of mouth, through conversations with prospects and other industry contacts, without any paid advertising. Yet in most countries, it ranks at or near the top of Google's search results for “How to write a good requirements document”, “How to write clear requirements”, and similar keyword phrases.

Since its initial release in June 2016, 21 Top Engineering Tips for Writing an Exceptionally Clear Requirements Document has generated more than 4600 leads. It has also helped QRA gain name recognition and build trust with potential customers. If you’d like to learn more about this project, you can download the case study I wrote about it.

Is there a good best-practice guide for the discipline you serve? If not, why not create one? If one already exists, can you make one that’s easier to use?

2. Methodology guide

Similar to a best practice guide, a methodology guide focuses on a new or little-known methodology for solving a specific problem—a new best practice, if you will.

In creating their 21 Tips guide, QRA came across a methodology called the Easy Approach to Requirements Syntax (EARS). EARS is a philosophy and a set of precise patterns for writing clear, concise requirements.

After looking deeper into EARS, QRA worked out a joint marketing effort with EARS creator, Alistair Mavin. Then, they hired me to write the content for their campaign. Together, we created EARS: The Definitive Guide to the Easy Approach to Requirements Syntax. It’s a backgrounder white paper that describes everything an engineer needs to get started with the method.

Like 21 Tips, this guide was built to be useful even if you don't buy QRA's product or Mavin's training services. There’s no attempt to pitch either offering. The piece relies on testimonials from seasoned EARS users to point out that training will accelerate the learning curve and reveal the subtleties of the method. And while QRA does include the EARS patterns in the enterprise version of its requirements analysis program, QVscribe, that product is only mentioned in the small “About QRA” blurb at the very end of the guide.

EARS: The Definitive Guide was published only last month, and promotion has just begun. But it has already produced a handful of leads. You can read and download the guide at qracorp.com.

3. Template

Do your customers need to document the work they do with your product? Must that documentation meet a recognized industry standard? Or maybe there's no standard, and your prospects are left to define their own format?

A document template is a great tool for improving document quality and documentation efficiency.

QRA’s QVscribe, for example, is used in creating engineering requirements documents. Now, there are a lot of free requirements document templates out there. Most are very simple and generic, however.

Many of QRA’s customers, on the other hand, are in the defense sector, where documentation requirements are anything but simple and generic. QRA could find no requirements document template that really addressed the needs of those customers.

So, they hired me to create a template based on MIL-STD-961E.

MIL-STD-961E is a U.S. Dept. of Defense Standard Practice titled “Defense and Program-Unique Specifications Format and Content”. It specifies everything you need to put in a requirement specification for a U.S. defense contract, and it dictates how that specification must be laid out. MIL-STD-961E defines a solid, thorough requirements document. And it’s readily available online for download.

I went through the standard and created a document template containing all the specified formatting, section headings, and boilerplate text. In each section of the template, I included references to relevant sections of the standard, so users can easily find detailed requirements. I also wrote an instruction sheet on how to use the template, which was included in the download package. QRA later added an EARS pattern template for writing individual requirements within the document. You can download the whole package here.

Published in June 2017 and promoted heavily on LinkedIn, QRA’s requirements document template has already generated nearly 1500 leads in just over two years. It also ranks highly in searches for MIL-STD-961E, especially if the “template” is included in the search term.

4. Automation guide

All the previous pieces can be used without buying QVscribe. We did recently create one, though, that showcases that product's features and benefits. But we did so in a practical way that can really help the reader.

We created what we called an "automation guide". It shows how to use QVscribe to simplify and streamline compliance with a well-known industry standard.

The INCOSE Guide for Writing Requirements is perhaps the most widely used guide to writing good requirements. It’s probably also the most extensive. Running over one hundred pages, it’s five times the length of QRA’s 21 Tips guide. But its thoroughness is also its biggest drawback. Manual review a list of requirements against all of INCOSE’s forty-one best practice "rules" quickly becomes tedious and enervating.

So, QRA asked me to create Automating the INCOSE Guide for Writing Requirements: A time-saving guide for system engineers and requirements analysts. This guide shows requirements engineers how QVscribe can improve their review process and save them time and energy by:

  • Quickly searching for problematic requirement constructions
  • Flagging requirements that might violate established best practices
  • Pointing users to places where attention is needed
  • Helping RE practitioners make more efficient of their time and expertise

Like the content previously described, Automating the INCOSE Guide for Writing Requirements has proven useful to QRA’s customers and prospects. Released in June 2019 and recently updated to the latest release of QVscribe, this automation guide has already produced dozens of leads. Many of QRA's customers use the INCOSE guide as a reference, but most feel QVscribe makes writing good requirements much faster and easier.

If your product can streamline an engineer's existing processes, a practical tool like an automation guide can help you reach that engineer with your message.

Take-away Points

  • Engineers react a bit differently to marketing content, compared to business decision makers and other influencers.
  • When marketing to engineers, it’s important to remember that they are efficiency-minded tool users.
  • The types of marketing content of greatest interest to engineers are information and tools that will save them time and help them work better.
  • Think about content projects that will be useful to the engineers in your market and that dovetail with your own products and services.

Next Steps

Do you need to develop marketing content that appeals to engineers or other technical types? Why not get help from an engineer who writes content? Call CopyEngineer at (+39) 011 569 4951. Or drop an email to info@copyengineer.com

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.