I participated in a panel recently at electronica on marketing to the next generation of engineers and it really got me thinking about how our industry is changing and what this means for our clients.
There is so much data out there which analyses the demographic shift that’s going on, not just in our industries, but across all B2B technology sectors. According to GWI and LinkedIn research, business professionals between the ages of 21-40 have influence across all stages of the buying process – identifying the business need (57%); researching potential vendors (41%); approving final purchase (47%).
EETech’s 2021 study shows that, in the electronics engineering world, 41% of next generation engineers use social media as a source of information in the design process (compared to 15% of career pro engineers).
Engineering.com’s 2022 ‘How Engineers Find Information’ research reveals that the top three information sources are digital publications (56% of all respondents) followed by online training (46%) and social media (again) in third place (38%).
Younger engineers are searching for, and finding, information in different ways, and they have more purchasing power than ever – if that doesn’t make manufacturers review their marketing strategy, I’m not sure what will.
Engagement, advocacy and information sharing through communities
At electronica I talked about the value of building communities. If you could replicate the benefit of the connections and conversations at events like this across all forms of marketing, life would be far simpler. The central point I made was that through a combination of content marketing and community marketing, you can build stronger engagement and have a deeper understanding of the audience.
Long gone are the days of ‘broadcast out’ marketing strategies. Content marketing has evolved to enable conversations and provide deeply relevant information for highly discerning audiences. Overlaying this with ‘community marketing’ that builds engagement, advocacy and information sharing deepens connections and improves marketing performance.
Diving into the data
Publitek has been building some incredible data-led marketing performance tools that enables us to analyse audiences in more detail than ever, which in turn helps us build community marketing strategies. The key premise being that before you start to build or engage with a community, you need to understand the audience within it.
Let’s look at some data, in this instance specifically in the Electronics Engineering space…
82% of people in electronics engineering between the ages of 25-44 are male, 63% speak English, 35% live in the US. So far, so obvious right? What if I told you that 48% of this audience follow Elon Musk (the highest ‘influencer’ on social media for this demographic), that TechCrunch and Wired are the two most influential news outlets (33% and 29% follow rate respectively) and that pets rank higher in interests than music, shopping and food and drink (dogs and fish, in case you were wondering).
People not personas
I’m trying to paint a picture of what marketing to this audience could look like and how companies should have a deeper understanding of who they’re speaking to, rather than flooding the market with scattergun content strategies, hoping that something resonates.
I’m not suggesting we use images of fish in creative campaigns (although it’s good to know what they like) but the data that we have available can tell us a lot…
- They’re seven times more likely that the average social media user to be on Twitch, the live-streaming platform for gamers
- They’re F1 and football fans (Chelsea seems to rank highly for some reason)
- They’re less likely to be influenced by online ads (21% vs. an average of 62%) but more likely to be engaged by specific product features (30% vs. 19% average)
- Their technology and computing interests skew heavily towards software (almost 20% of the total audience), compared to consumer electronics (11%) and hardware (7%)
In terms of personality types, they are analytical, expressive and social. They are also philosophical and are open and intrigued by new ideas and love to express them. Unsurprisingly, their choices are driven by a desire for efficiency and they consider themselves to be independent and motivated by success.
In marketing, we spend a lot of time looking at personas. There is huge value in this as it enables us to segment the audience and serve them relevant messaging at different stages of the buying cycle. However, the mistake that is sometimes made is looking at individuals just as professionals, not as people. We have a chance to tailor the messaging even further with more detailed audience insight and most importantly we have the opportunity to build communities, engagement, advocacy as well as driving sales and ROI.
We are social beings, driven by the desire to feel part of something. Events like electronica showed the power of community so let’s replicate that through our marketing strategies.