When you consider businesses that design, develop and sell engineering devices, products or system solutions in a B2B environment there are often three key functions that sit between the initial ‘blank sheet of paper’ (at the beginning of the design process) and revenues from sales. Those functions are: design-development, marketing and sales.
For a business to be successful, open and effective interaction between these three functions is critical. For example, there is no point in the design and development function dedicating time and resource in creating a product for which there is no need or end market. Therefore, information and insight from both the sales and marketing functions is needed to identify, understand, quantify and then communicate trends and needs in the markets being served.
Done in a timely, structured, and efficient way, this can lead to the much sought-after “first to market” launch of a pivotal, differentiated product or solution. Such solutions not only generate unchallenged revenues for a period of time but can also position the business as an innovator, a thought leader, and therefore a preferred partner for customers in sectors such as electric vehicles, industrial automation or medical technology.
What has been described above is the utopian scenario for a deep tech business that depends on developing and selling innovative products and solutions at exactly the right time…or sooner!
However, the reality for many organizations, particularly larger ones, may be some way from that ideal with a disconnect between the three functions – and sometimes even friction.
Clearly, the benefits of getting things right in this area are significant, and so investing time, thought and resource is in everyone’s interest – businesses, livelihoods, and even the share price may depend on it!
But how can those connections that foster understanding and teamwork between different areas of the business happen? Indeed, what are the fundamental problem at the heart of this? In Publitek’s experience there are often a number of factors:
- Marketing departments and the sales function – because they don’t have enough technical know-how, they don’t have strong enough knowledge to allow conversations at the level required with design and development in order to build effective messaging and strategies for promotional work
- Marketing don’t know and are not communicating to design and development what the markets they support need
- Design and development are focused on and limited to, the engineering considerations, often because they don’t understand how and why the marketing function works and its importance to the business
- There is a disconnect between the sales and the marketing functions which leads to a disjointed, sometimes confused go-to-market strategy and lack of quality resources to aid and drive design-in for customers
For many deep tech companies, there is work to be done, and establishing and defining internal roles such as technical marketing engineers, product line managers, and go-to-market engineers/managers – individuals that combine engineering and marketing skills, experience, and knowhow – can bridge gaps, build communications channels and facilitate big improvements.
A complementary approach is for deep tech. businesses to work with an external agency that, in a similar way, combines marketing savvy with a solid core of engineering knowhow that can deliver a number of key benefits, for example:
- The ability to bolster the technical capability of the marketing function by conversing directly with engineering stakeholders, as well as marcom contacts, to both understand the technical details and to inform messaging and strategy
- The skills to create technical content for engineer-to-engineer communication that, when delivered via the right channels, raises awareness, builds brand strength, and influences target audiences
- By working with a variety of technical businesses the agency builds up a strong understanding of the environment and can support with valuable information and insight about emerging trends, needs, and market drivers
While marketing agencies are primarily and traditionally tasked with developing and delivering the messaging from the client to the target audiences, agencies grounded in technology and engineering can also provide a crucial resource in making the internal connections between the previously siloed business functions of design & development, marketing and sales.