Explore our Digital Marketing Strategy and Planning Toolkit

Marketing to Engineers – how video is redefining marketing

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 13 Feb, 2014
Essential Essential topic

How video enhances the creativity for engineering marketing

The American author and renowned management consultant, Peter Drucker, once proclaimed that since the only real aim of a business is to create and keep customers, then all businesses could be seen as having only two basic functions; marketing and innovation. ‘Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs,’ he went on to conclude.

Whether you agree with Drucker or not, his point highlights that often difficult relationships are found in engineering and technology companies between marketing departments and R&D. Engineers must develop products the market wants, and marketers must communicate complex products to customers effectively.

When the product or system being engineered is highly complex or diffuse in nature and your target audience is not necessarily well versed in the technical language of your industry, a bridge is needed to create a connection between consumer and product.

Engineering firms often invest huge sums of money into the development of a single product line or system, but often come unstuck when it comes to developing an effective marketing strategy around this product or system. Fortunately, end clients improved access to video is making the marketers job easier.

Effective communication through video is increasingly becoming the differentiator of success between competitors in the engineering sector. The development of new channels is just one avenue video marketing can exploit and this needn’t be expensive.

Video can be relatively cheap to produce and has the advantage of being far more accessible than traditional forms of marketing media. By opening up a dialogue with the viewer, video allows you to engage in a way that is almost limitless in its potential.

The key ingredient here is creativity, which is where seasoned marketers are essential to bring the narrative out of the cold clinical language of engineering. Finding marketers who understand your industry but are effective storytellers isn’t always an easy task, but the ability to tell a story is becoming increasingly important in today’s online environment.

Telling stories using video

One of the huge advantages of using video is the ability it grants you to tell stories. Testimonial and interviews from customers or employees are tried and tested video marketing techniques that, if executed correctly, can be far more compelling, authentic and even humorous, than a pre-written script that has clearly gone through the ringers of the PR department.

Ford has successfully used short clips of its customers to great success, allowing the company to temporarily lose its corporate image as people tell real stories that haven’t been dreamt up in some marketing brainstorming session.

IBM also managed to successfully redefine its stagnant image with Tim Washer’s humorous Art of the Sale video, in which it isn’t even clear until the very end that IBM are behind it. Using humour can be extremely powerful way of humanising your company.

The ability for video to connect, to make a huge corporation seem real and relevant, can help engineering firms to re-define any closed off reputation they might have; something that is just as important in a B2B setting as a B2C one.

Perhaps the most important development we’re seeing with video nowadays though is its sheer overpowering ubiquity. The availability of video technology on smartphones and the ease with which consumers and customers can upload them to forums like Youtube, Vimeo or Vine, is creating the basis of a form of two way interaction between consumer and business. By engaging in this forum in a real and honest way, businesses can further build upon the idea of shared values, creating the bedrock for future marketing drives.

Balancing Act

Effective engineering marketing involves communicating complex information about your product as well as telling stories about the people that will end up benefiting from it.

In a B2B market there will likely always be a requirement to convey some degree of specification about your product. Whilst raw data like this is vital, it is important to maintain a human side to your video at all times and keep the focus on application over functionality. Striking this balance can be difficult but the creativity video can engender opens up countless opportunities to surprise and wow your audience, even whilst conveying technical information.

Architectural flythroughs are an effective way of showing the inner workings of your product without the need to bog your audience down in technical information. These can even be shot in 3D, creating novelty and buzz around your product launch or marketing drive, whilst simultaneously communicating a sense of scale and utility to your audience. Whilst these techniques aren’t particularly cheap, they are becoming more affordable and have been shown to increase enquiries.

Timelapse photography can be an incredibly powerful means of showing a large scale project or development progressing over a long period of time, often years. The power to condense information in this way is both visually appealing and extremely illuminating, and often only takes a matter of seconds to execute.

Timelapse was used to great effect by various media outlets during the Costa Concordia salvage operation in which the capsized ship was righted by huge cables and metal water tanks. This delicate and timely salvage operation was brought to life by this technique and is a perfect example of how the work involved in a high tech engineering operation can be brought to life in as little as sixty seconds.


A recent study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) found that many business owners are attempting marketing themselves, citing time and money as the two main reasons for underinvestment in this area. It is likely that without the proper experience and investment, internal campaigns like this will fail to meet their full potential.

The tide is beginning to shift however and many parts of the engineering sector are beginning to take marketing more seriously, investing more and more money in creating high quality video content. The uneasy relationship between the engineers and the marketing department is beginning to thaw.

Engineering.com recently discovered that marketers in 2013 were using blog posts and webinars to promote their content online. The move towards creating and maintaining content online is growing stronger, a trend undoubtedly driven by the decline of print media and the move towards online journals and trade publications.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau reported online ad spending up year on year, with a growth of 18% in the first half of 2013, with mobile spending up 145% year over year in the same period. The move towards catering video content specifically towards mobile devices, and reacting to the ways people interact with them, will be a key area to watch in the coming years as smartphone and tablet usage continues to grow.

Author's avatar

By Expert commentator

This is a post we've invited from a digital marketing specialist who has agreed to share their expertise, opinions and case studies. Their details are given at the end of the article.

Recommended Blog Posts