Marketing in an engineering firm? Who would have thought? Why the heck would an engineering firm employ a bunch of marketers? Most likely these people can’t design the geometry of a highway, calculate the load rating of a bridge, or even look through the correct end of a surveying theodolite.
Well, where do you think all of those cool projects come from that keep engineers, architects and construction folks busy? Sure, on occasion, one of those assignments may find its way to an engineer’s desk by dropping from the sky by the “cool project fairy,” but the majority are spearheaded and coordinated by a talented group of professional proposal, presentation, and business development experts.
Yes, I’m a marketer and yes, I’m pretty sure that the world would end if marketers weren’t involved with today’s industry, operations, vision, and how we strategically approach the future. Maybe that’s a little over the top and maybe the world wouldn’t end, but I am extremely confident that proposal hit rates and our success at bringing in new work would plummet. To be honest, it really wasn’t too many years ago when an ambitious engineer would grab his trusty .07 pencil, scribble down a creative project approach, hand it off to an available typist, pull together some boilerplate resumes and staple it in the corner. Sure, a lot of those proposals were winners, but most likely these successful selections came from existing clients. These clients knew us well, relied on our staff, and most likely trusted us. Let’s face it, our existing clients knew what they were getting just by seeing our logo on the cover letter. In comparison to those simpler times, there is more competition today, budgets are much tighter, and relationships with current clients are ever changing.
With diverse backgrounds and individualized career circumstances, today’s marketers bring a wide-range of skills, education, and experience.
We can’t expect to be industry leaders and win work by providing our clients with the same methods we did years ago. As a firm we need to keep pace with the industry and continue embracing new tactics as we move into the future. If we want to continue to be successful, we can’t be stuck in the past. Thus, enter today’s valuable marketing team member. So, who is today’s marketer? Where do they come from and how are they helping us be successful?
With diverse backgrounds and individualized career circumstances, today’s marketers bring a wide-range of skills, education, and experience, as well as a wealth of talent, creativity, and passion. They may have an engineering background, or they may be an English major who loves to write. Maybe they’re the artsy type and excel at graphics or enjoy data research, organization, and tracking. Perhaps they love the challenge of multi-tasking, coordinating complex and multi-faceted assignments, or just enjoy working with a wide range of personalities. All have different stories of how they entered the exciting world of engineering and I am confident that when they were a child, they never said to themselves “when I grow up, I want to be a marketer for a highly successful engineering firm.”
Just like the right hand and left hand, marketers and engineers are not mirror images and they’re not complete opposites, they are counterparts and together they create the perfect team.
Now that we’re well into the new era and now that marketers are a permanent part of the engineering team, let’s compare today’s marketer to the typical engineer. Counter balancing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, both have different responsibilities, personalities, and talents. Yet they are both crucial ingredients to success. Remember, as I mentioned, I’m a marketer and do not claim to be a trained scientist or psychologist. For comparison sake, Let’s just say that today’s marketer is the right hand and engineers are the left hand. We all know that it’s almost impossible to perform everyday tasks without your right hand. Try tying your shoes, clapping, or even shifting your car into fourth gear with standard manual transmission.
Take this comparison a bit further and compare this hypothesis to the human brain. The right side of the brain being marketing and left side being engineering. The left side of the brain encompasses many traits of the typical engineer, including logic, numbers, and analytical thinking. Obviously, these vital behaviors are all extremely important to the complex engineering services we provide. Whereas the right side of the brain maintains many characteristics that are totally opposite from the stereotypical engineer and mimic the features of the typical marketer. Today’s marketer brings the beneficial personality traits of creativity, imagination, expression and emotional intelligence. Just like the right hand and left hand, marketers and engineers are not mirror images and they’re not complete opposites, they are counterparts and together they create the perfect team.
A perfect team relies on the strengths of each team member, as well as compensating for one another’s weaknesses. As a team, we are routinely tasked with large and complex proposals, reports, or presentations. We’re all in same kitchen, so let’s use making a cake for an example. Carrot, chocolate, cheese, or whatever makes you smile. After analyzing the makeup of the taste testers that will be presented with this cake and a mutual decision between engineer and marketer on what type and style cake will be delivered, the intelligent and educated left-hand engineer would most likely rely on logic and rational to begin formulating intimate details of the cake baking process. What is the precise temperature, how many eggs, how long do I leave it in the oven, etc. By utilizing calculations, hypotheses, and mathematical equations, the engineer wears the chef hat and will ultimately be responsible for baking that tasty, moist and delectable cake.
A perfect team relies on the strengths of each team member, as well as compensating for one another’s weaknesses.
Let’s be honest. Nobody wants to serve a plain, unfrosted, and undecorated cake, so the team must ensure that this wonderful cake looks presentable and especially appetizing before it is served. When the cake is still in the oven and the deadline is quickly approaching, the right-hand marketer has begun the creative, imaginative, and inventive phase of decoration. With a knack for adding color, sprinkles, and the right number of candles, the marketer puts the final touches on this delectable dessert that will be enjoyed by the entire selection committee.
Stand up engineers and marketers, put both of your hands high, put the right hand and left hand together. Not only are we clapping because we can’t stop the new projects from coming in, but we are grateful that together we create the perfect team to successfully move us into the future. Working hand in hand is a piece of cake!