Entrepreneurship for Scientists

Why Engineers Struggle with Marketing

Engineers are trained to look at the facts. In the world of marketing, the facts are important but they are only part of the equation.

Engineers are a unique breed.

Although they have a lot to offer, a business partnership with an engineer can also present some special challenges. For example, you might have noticed that your engineer partner has some interesting ideas about marketing. What's going on?

Right off the bat, you need to recognize that an engineer is wired differently than an entrepreneur. His training and experience have conditioned him to value quantification and objectivity. But in business, many decisions cannot be easily quantified. And when it comes to marketing . . . well, let's just say that marketing is - by nature - a highly subjective endeavor. With that in mind, here are some other things you need to know about why your engineer partner struggles with marketing . . .

Engineers love facts.

At the end of the day, engineers love facts more than anything else. The problem is that facts are only part of the marketing equation. How you present information is often just as important as the information itself. Engineers need to understand that while it's necessary to present facts in a marketing campaign, facts alone won't get the job done.

Engineers are skeptical about advertising.

Most engineers genuinely believe they are immune to the power of advertising. They believe this not because they are arrogant, but because they have been trained to make decisions based on logic rather than emotion. Although it's debatable whether or not engineers are truly unaffected by advertising, conflicts arise when they transfer their beliefs about advertising to the rest of they buying public. The simple truth is that consumers make their buying decisions based on a combination of logic and emotion. To be effective, your marketing campaign has to target consumers' emotions as well as their minds.

Engineers avoid bells and whistles.

Engineers have a "no frills" perspective on life. Their job is to find the simplest, most straightforward way of doing things. Most marketing campaigns frustrate engineers because they emphasize bells, whistles, and other features designed to attract consumers' attention. If they had their way, your marketing campaign would probably consist of a type-written, black and white ad lacking photos or graphics of any kind. Okay, maybe that's a little extreme, but you get the idea. Someone needs to show your partner why bells and whistles are a vital part of your marketing efforts.

Engineers prefer jargon.

Customers loathe industry jargon. Engineers prefer it. Does anybody notice a problem here? Jargon is perfectly acceptable for in-house use. But any materials prepared for the general public should be phrased for consumption by industry-outsiders.

Engineers prefer charts and graphs.

Any marketing campaign worth its salt will rely heavily on visual imagery. In an engineer's mind, visual imagery frequently translates into charts and graphs. Unfortunately, consumers don't see it that way. At best, they find charts and graphs distracting. So instead of plastering your marketing campaign with scientific imagery, use images that appeal to consumers and save the graphs for the board room.

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  • foxxy posted on 2/11/2010
    the simple unadorned truth is most of us consumers are not bright enough to understand graphs and such and need the colors and lights (oohhh pretty) to attract attention. Not being sarcastic
  • psyiko posted on 5/3/2010
    I found this article as an engineer interested in marketing. I agree with some of the statements, but you do make some very wide generalizations. I think to work with an engineer you need to appeal to his sense of reason and logic. Also, to the above comment, I don't think it's a matter of being 'bright' or 'intelligent' but that the general public just doesn't have the patience or the desire to sit and study these graphs and charts. Whereas engineers are probably much more used to seeing graphs and charts, it's not as much a struggle to them. It's about practice more than innate intelligence.

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