How to get engineers on board with marketing

Marketing should never operate in a silo. Marketing activities obviously impact on sales and customer service, but other departments often get forgotten in the process of getting team buy-in. Your technical team needs to be on board with marketing for a number of reasons:
  • Market research and customer profiling needs to feed into Product Development to ensure product-market fit
  • Marketing measurements and conversion KPIs enable Operations to predict surges or dips in demand and prepare accordingly
  • Product Development needs to be supported by Marketing to ensure product launches are successful
  • Anyone with a customer-facing position (such as a Maintenance Engineer, or a Designer tasked with customising a product for a customer) needs to understand their role in the customer's buying decision and how to support the process
​But how do you get buy-in from technical staff who are not at all familiar with how marketing actually works?

Here are my 6 tips…

1. Explain marketing as a structured, methodical process – like engineering!

I started my career as a Design Engineer with very little understanding of how marketing actually worked. To me, it seemed like a very "fluffy" field based on a combination of creative guesswork and artistic inspiration.

I thought if I designed a great product then people would just buy it. They wouldn't need persuading with marketing gimmicks.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Good marketing is structured, methodical, innovative, based on rigorous research, and then carefully designed, executed and project managed. Good marketing is very much like engineering!

I now explain marketing as a structured, logical process that supports customers through every stage of their buying decision. This methodical approach can be understood by anyone and enables logically-minded engineers to see marketing as a worthwhile and practical discipline.

2. Explain its relevance to their job

I’ve found that the people who are most disaffected with marketing are the ones who feel that it is utterly irrelevant to their job.

So the answer is to make sure that everyone know why your marketing plan is absolutely relevant to them.

For example:
  • Explain to your Product Development team what customers need to see, hear and feel at different points in the buying process so that they understand why marketing have requested certain features or improvements.
  • Explain to Operations the importance of packaging and delivery from a customer experience perspective. Show them how tiny details can make a huge difference for their customer and therefore for your organisation’s bottom line.
  • Explain to Service & Maintenance the importance of making sure customers feel valued, by communicating with them regularly and not just when things are going wrong.
​A sure-fire way of getting people on-board with marketing is to show them how it will make their job better, easier and/or more satisfying by delivering a better experience for their customers.

3. Make sure everyone understands how all the customer-facing teams work together

There should not be a moment in time when a prospect is handed over from Marketing to Sales, or from Sales to (say) System Design. A prospect might interact with Marketing, Sales and System Design at the same time, and they might sway towards one and then back to another. Likewise with Service & Maintenance, as existing customers go on to upgrade their system they might need support from sales.

A contact should never be “owned” by a department, and departments should support each other in pursuit of the end goal of delivering the best customer experience.

This can often mean reviewing your internal processes and systems to make sure that customers can easily be passed between departments, and receive consistent service and have a comfortable experience in the process.

4. Use a common language

Used badly, jargon can be the enemy of communication and can create division and suspicion between departments.

However, useful and meaningful jargon can bring people together and strengthen a feeling of “one team”. This can be achieved quite easily by teaching and encouraging the use of a simple common language. My clients find themselves talking about the "buyer journey" and their "ideal customer" in conversations that aren't really about marketing, and this helps everyone to recognise the value of marketing to every facet of the business.

If Product Development can quickly understand why Marketing has requested a small but effective change, then they will be better equipped to effectively prioritise their workload.

5. Allow staff to share ideas without barriers

Wherever possible, avoid creating a culture where only the Marketing team can have marketing ideas. Just because someone is not an expert in a certain field, does not mean they can’t have a great idea about it. In fact, some of the most creative solutions come from a mind-set which is unclouded by convention and status quo.

Engineers are inherently creative, innovative people and, when encouraged to extend their creativity beyond their role, you might well find them an unexpected source of creative marketing ideas.

Find ways to facilitate the sharing and discussion of ideas across teams to gain new perspectives and inspire new ways of doing things.

6. Encourage accountability

Another advantage of having a common language and framework is that it enables accountability.
If Product Development understand that a small, low-cost and relatively unprofitable product in the range is actually a crucial gateway product, then they will be able to push back against pressure to change or scrap it.

A few years ago, at the end of a team training day that I'd just run, the MD summed up the day saying, “Integrating this structure into the way we work as an organisation is going to be crucial. If at any time you are asked to do anything which you believe does not follow these principles then you need to speak up - whether it comes from a peer, your manager or even if it comes from me. For example if you're asked to create a flyer aimed at driving awareness and are given copy that is 2000 words long, I want you to challenge the instruction and say 'this doesn't fit within our methodology'."

By training everyone in the fundamentals of marketing and empowering his team to keep each other accountable, the MD ensured that marketing became everyone's responsibility.

"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself": Henry Ford.

Getting reluctant technical staff to engage with marketing can seem a hopeless task. It can often feel like it’d just be easier to exclude them and get on with the job without them. However there is so much to be gained from getting your engineers and developers on board that it is rarely of any benefit not to do so.

If you need help getting your technical staff on board with marketing and business development, email me, call or drop me a line on social media.

Ros Conkie


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