Sunday, July 3, 2011

Selling the Sizzle-Not the Steak

Something that has been a hot topic recently at my engineering society has been MARKETING.  I've posted before about the fact that engineers are particularly bad at this, but I think its worth mentioning again. A common misconception made by engineers is that an idea itself being really good should be reason enough for others to buy into it. We completely fail to understand why the way we package that idea can be sometimes be even more important than the information itself...

Just take a look at this website:

That was ASME's website a year ago.  Now, if you had no idea about who or what ASME was all about, what would your impression of the society be? Having been introduced to ASME about a year ago, being the engineer I am, I decided to go check it out online. What I found was an un-navigatable mess of data and text that gave me no clear indication of what they actually did! And boy, was it ugly!
(Note: if anyone from ASME is reading this and think I'm being harsh-don't hate, you know I'm right!)

Now I know a lot of engineers out there are sitting there saying, 'Hey now, whats the matter if its unattractive? Its meant to communicate information, and thats what it does-all the information is there!" But you have to also realise that engineers are naturally programmed to be adverse to marketing. Just type in Engineers and Marketing in Google and see what pops up! This blog post put it particularly well:

I just love the writer's ten reason's engineers don't respond to regular marketing ploys.

1.Engineers just want the facts
2.Engineers are trained to question the “benefits” that you present
3.Engineers hate being marketed or sold to
4.Engineers like to find you through their own research (this should be a clue for marketers!) This is an incredibly interesting point. And a major difference between engineers and plant managers, I've noticed.
5.Engineers don’t buy on emotion Ok, I admit. Books and shoes are my one guilty weakness! I just cant help myself at a book sale...but I suppose I don't buy because of marketing. I buy because I just HAVE to have them!!
6.Engineers won’t read direct mail (to them it is junk)
7.Engineers despise telemarketing (even more than you do!) You would not believe how true this is!!!
8.Engineers hate hyped up ad copy (even though it works on the masses)
9.Engineers don’t respond to flashy websites – bells and whistles just annoy them
10.Engineers have a sense of humor (but it does not overlap well with the human race)
Which reminds me, I think it may be time for another Engineer Joke of the Week!

Basically, we're trained to quickly weade through a lot of information and extract only what is absolutely necessary. We dont see that outside technical and academic engineers circles-the real world-where selling your product/ service/ idea is the only way to succeed, the stuff that we're programmed to see as unimportant, is actually VERY important. "In marketing we are taught to sell the 'sizzle'-not the steak. Its what consumers respond to, its how we grab and hold their attention!
I can attest to this. The Engineer-Chic blog used to be green and had random articles that had no real theme. Once I realise who my target audience was and formed an 'image' suited to that, my readership increased...a lot!

Now, just take a look at ASME's new website:

And? What do you think now about the society? Would you believe now that this is the largest mechanical engineering society in the world? With 120, 000 members in 150 countries worldwide?

  Its clean, easy to navigate and attractive without being unnecessarily flashy or fancy. Its epitomises functionality without being boring. I have to say, I love it. Wll done ASME!
(See-I wasn't being that harsh after all-right?)

Take a look at another website I absolutely love. Notice how well-suited the colour-scheme is, and the use of emotive imagery and wording. What we don't realise is the effect all of this has on us without us even realising it!

This is one area that WOMEN are naturally very strong in. Even us engineering ladies have an eye for design, colour and form. But more on this in my next post *wink*!


Conrad Harrison said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Looks like those Gladwell Outliers have provided you access to a computer.

Another perspective on what you are saying comes from computer science and industrial engineering. Data is raw material, and information is data sorted and presented to inform and aid decision making and taking action.

A lot of disputes that occur between, architects, engineers and the appointed building contractors occur because of providing data rather than information. The consultants argue the contractor had the information, but its not true, they had data. It is not the contractors job to go looking for and uncovering information. Communication requires, transmitter and receiver. Data is transmitted but no information receieved. What is received is distorted by noise, and message low quality. {Like my writing}

So the ASME website was loaded with data, but not information: have to mine the information out.

Another point is that marketing shouldn't be confused with advertising and promotion. Marketing is largely about collecting data about the needs of the market and transforming into useful design information so that product can be produced to supply the market. Advertising mostly about pushing goods and services people don't want.

Engineers are amongst the things people don't believe they need: and its hard to convince them otherwise because what they get is more dependent on the individual than the profession. That is they get what they need because of who they go to not because of what they go too. They may start with the what, but end up searching until they find the who. So promoting the profession becomes difficult.

About Engineer Chic said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@metamorphs:beyond structures

Haha! Glad you've been following my tweets! Actually, I still dont have a computer-but an engineer makes a plan right?

I get that about providing data and not information. Information is useful, data is raw and needs to be analysed-and not everyone is wired to be analytical-which engineers tend to forget.

As for marketing and advertising, yes I agree to a point. Marketing is also about tailoring the product to 1-meet the needs of the client. But that highly-useful product is worth squat if its not delivered in the just-right shiny make the customer believe that he/ she needs it! Developing an image and advertising is definitely a part of the marketing process. And research must go in to what that image Should be for your market.

Yes, engineers have a hard time in terms of image...but thats slowly changing. (My dad wanted to do medicine and gave me up as hopeless when I chose Mech Eng. Now he PROUDLY tells anyone who will listen that his daughter is a MECHANICAL engineer!)


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