Why we love working with engineers

Date: November 7, 2017
Author: Kristin Zhivago
Close image of machinery in silver and gray

My love affair with engineers started officially when I entered the business world right out of high school, selling machine stop tools for a Pratt & Whitney distributor. I started meeting engineers in that job, and thought to myself, “Well, these guys are nice.” After working my way through college, I spent the next 5 or so years as an engineering headhunter in Silicon Valley, interacting with hundreds of engineers every year. I still thought they were nice. The “jerk quotient” was super low; they had a good sense of humor; they were intelligent and well-meaning. Best of all, they were interesting.

Personal sidenote: I found my husband while working as a recruiter, making cold calls (he was running a plastics manufacturing factory – I started sending him assemblers). We’ve been married for decades now. Philip is an inventor, engineer, and artist – he makes the most beautiful, functional things.

Back to business: I’m still working with engineers, and loving it.

Engineers make great clients. They are logical and collaborative. They know they need to market, but they need help. Mind-reading and interpersonal communication are not their strong suits. So they look to others to help them, and frankly, they often suffer at the hands of less-reputable vendors. By the time they come to us, they’ve been through the ringer and back.

Makes my blood boil.

What those vendors try to make them believe is that marketing is some special magic. But it’s not. It’s logical and logistical, right up the engineer’s alley. It’s also hard work, which doesn’t bother an engineer – if he knows why the work must be done, what must be done, and how it is done best.

Marketing used to be 80% creative and 20% logistics. Now it’s just the opposite – in fact, I’d say it’s more like 90% logistics and 10% creative. Which is why the best marketers now build systems and processes first, complete with testing and reporting, and then follow best practices: interviewing customers, conducting market and keyword research, building a solid identity profile that’s reinforced in all channels, then getting the basics right – again, in all channels.

Engineers don’t believe in magic. When they design something, and the big moment comes to flip the switch (or launch that application into the market), it has to work. There’s no room for BS in that situation.

And, contrary to what those suede-shoe, tassel-toed, pony-tailed types will say, there’s no room for BS in marketing, either. Today’s buyers want the truth, straight up.

There is far too little appreciation for the contribution that engineers have made to our world. Nothing is sadder than a well-designed product crippled by bad marketing. Engineers deserve better.

If you’re an engineer, and you’re reading this, and you run or own a company, you should at least have a conversation with us.

Based on previous experience with hundreds of engineers, I think you will be glad you did. Even if we never end up working together.

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