Representor Fall 2023 - Cover Story


Content Marketing that Engages Engineers

6 key steps to building a plan for your firm

Wendy Covey, TREW Marketing

By Wendy Covey

Marketing can seem daunting these days, especially with the explosion of media channels, generative AI tools and ever-changing Google algorithms. By using the right audience-centric framework, you can develop a comprehensive and right-sized marketing strategy that will help you reach new customers, build loyalty with existing customers and increase revenue. In this article, we’ll explore the six essential components to include in your marketing plan.

Develop audience personas

When it comes to creating a successful marketing strategy, understanding your audience is essential. By creating detailed profiles of your potential customers, you can gain insight into their behavior, needs and preferences. You can then carry this information into your marketing plan, from messaging and channel selection to content along the (sometimes very long!) buyer’s journey, from design to production.

While there are multiple job functions on a buying team, you may decide to dedicate most of your marketing efforts towards the technical specifier (who first finds you) and the technical leader (often the final decision-maker). Once you’ve prioritized, assess their pain points and what is driving them to seek a solution. This will be the basis of your tailored content strategy and activity plan, which will greatly increase the likelihood of success.


Figure 1. Audience personas help you to better understand your audience’s needs and identify ways you can help them achieve their goals.

Set SMART goals

Whether you’re looking to expand your customer base, increase sales or simply improve your overall marketing efforts, setting SMART goals is the first step toward achieving those goals. It’s also important to align your organization’s focus and clearly define what marketing success looks like. By making goals measurable, achievable and realistic, you can keep your team on track and ensure that everyone works together toward the same objectives. SMART goals aren’t just a conceptual framework — they provide the foundation for long-term success, allowing you to track progress and adjust course as needed. Here are a few examples of SMART goals:

– Grow our brand authority score from 15 to 20 by Q2 2024

– Increase the number of sales qualified automotive leads by 15 percent by Q4 2023

– Grow organic web traffic by 30 percent in 2024

Each marketing goal should support a business goal, so it’s important to time marketing planning after business planning is complete. Initiatives may surface that drastically impact where to focus marketing, such as new market penetration or a change in technology partnerships.

Identify your unique value proposition

Your unique value proposition helps you build a stronger brand, attract more customers and set you apart from your competition. It is what makes your brand, product or service stand out in the minds of potential customers. It could be your expertise in a specific niche, your exceptional customer service, or perhaps a unique selling point that nobody else offers.

A good way to get started on crafting your value proposition is to assemble a small team of stakeholders in your organization and take some time to reflect on what differentiates you from your competitors. Ask your customers (and perhaps lost prospects) to gain an external perspective. Then test your messaging in the market and refine as necessary.

Your value proposition needs to be communicated clearly, prominently and consistently in all your content and by your sales reps so that prospects know exactly what sets you apart and why they should choose you.

Develop an activity plan

Now that you’ve identified and prioritized your target personas and crafted your unique value proposition, it’s time to choose marketing channels and activities to reach them.

There are many tactics to choose from. Some involve leveraging industry communities, such as technical publications, trade shows and associations or search engines. Other tactics leverage the community you’ve built, including your website, database and social media presence.

When choosing channels, meet your target personas where they are. Based on your persona work and past marketing successes (and failures), you should have a pretty good idea of where to start. Industry research, such as the State of Marketing to Engineers report and Mind of the Engineer study, can also provide insight. Keep in mind that information needs and sources change throughout the buyer’s journey, and you want to be in the right places and the right time with the right message.


Figure 2. When asked where they routinely seek information when researching a product or service for a work-related purchase, most technical buyers look to online resources, according to the 2023 State of Marketing to Engineers report.


Here are a few channels which are particularly effective targeting design engineers:

• Supplier/vendor websites housing helpful content written with the persona’s pain points and needs in mind

• LinkedIn engagement including sharing and engaging with educational posts

• Webinars where persona pain points are addressed by a technical subject-matter expert

• Targeted advertising with a compelling call-to-action (think e-book, white paper, webinar)

• Industry conference presentations and booths

• Contributed articles in technical publications

With limited time and budget, a campaign approach can help you stay focused and maximize your impact. A campaign is an integrated set of activities tied by a common goal and/or theme. Companies often run 2-4 campaigns concurrently, and they usually last 6-12 months. Figure 3 is an example campaign centered upon a Bluetooth application in medical devices.


Figure 3. An example marketing campaign.

Develop a budget and set deadlines

Creating a successful plan starts with establishing a realistic budget and setting achievable deadlines. Without clear financial boundaries, projects may exceed their intended scope, causing delays and impacting end results. Experts recommend a B2B marketing budget of around 10 percent of annual gross revenue. Evaluate your tactics and channels and prioritize your marketing spend where it can have the greatest impact on reaching your target audience and maximizing ROI.

With your budget established, you’ll need to attach time and/or dollars to each marketing tactic and channel, along with deadlines and next steps across your execution. Keep yourself and your team accountable with ongoing task management to ensure that each task is completed on time, on message and on budget.

Track results and adjust

Do not set it and forget it. When it comes to executing a successful marketing program, tracking your results is key. Through regular monitoring, you can gain valuable insights into what’s working and what’s not. Whether it’s tweaking your messaging, changing your targeting or adjusting your budget, monitoring results and adjusting your plan as needed is essential for staying on track and achieving your goals. With the ability to adapt to changes, you can better position your company for success in an ever-evolving market.

A strategic marketing plan is key to success

As you now know, marketing planning is a heady process and requires time and focus. It is worth it! Creating and following a thoughtful marketing plan is the best way to maximize the dollars you invest, not only in marketing activities, but your investment in your sales team as well. If marketing can attract prospects, build trust and generate qualified leads, your sales team can spend more time on high-impact activities such as closing and nurturing key accounts.

Carve out time this Q4 to tackle your marketing plan and set your business up for success in 2024!

About the author

Wendy Covey is a CEO, technical marketing leader, author of Content Marketing, Engineered, one of The Wall Street Journal’s 10 Most Innovative Entrepreneurs in America…and she holds a Texas fishing record. Over the past 25 years, Wendy and her team at TREW Marketing have helped hundreds of highly technical companies build trust and fill their pipelines through strategy-first marketing.