Win More Projects Matching Your Firm’s Engineering Skills with our Marketing Process

Throughout my career I have worked very closely with engineers, and have often been asked to explain to them what marketing really accomplishes for the company. Most of these engineers work in design/development, network engineering, system architecture, RF engineering or field engineering – either in companies large enough that the engineering groups do not typically interact with the Marketing department, or in firms that don’t have a Marketing department.

When I have asked engineers about their experience with marketing, the most common responses are as follows:

“I just don’t get what that touchy-feely stuff can really do for us.”


Marketing is much more than just ‘fluff;’ it can transform your engineering business.

“Marketing is the fluff. They make things look nice.”

“We worked a marketing agency when we needed brochures for a trade show.”

“I have worked with marketing people to order t-shirts and give-a-ways.”

Sound familiar?

Many engineers have told me that their interactions with marketing have been related to the production aspect of websites, brochures, trade shows and promotional items – and in many cases the business impact of the marketing activities was not obvious to the engineers.

Production and promotional items, while very important, are just a part of what marketing is about. Through this Beyond the ‘Fluff’ series of articles, I hope to offer a broader perspective on how engineering firms can use marketing to reach specific business goals. I’ll cover topics such as:

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Win More Projects Matching Your Firm’s Engineering Skills with our Marketing Process

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Now that you have identified your firm’s key strengths in Beyond the ‘Fluff’ Step 1: Pinpoint Your Firm’s Core Competencies, the next step is defining the types of projects that best utilize those competencies and also fit your firm’s needs in terms of profitability, risk, and other relevant factors.

Why Focus on Projects Requiring Your Core Competencies?

Because core competencies are almost impossible for competitors to duplicate, firms gain the greatest competitive advantage when bidding on projects which require their core competencies as an essential component for project success. For example if a project is extremely complicated and thus requires strong project management skills, an engineering firm with a core competence in project management will have a distinct advantage. In addition to the deeply ingrained skills and knowledge your firm has on projects related to your core competencies, your firm will yield better results on those projects because people perform best and most consistently when doing activities that leverage their strengths.

Excellent results produce satisfied clients and repeat business, and by proving your worth also make it easier to command your desired price. In this fashion, increasing the percentage of “ideal projects” your firm wins can have a substantial impact on your business volume and profitability.

Develop an Ideal Project Profile

The first step in increasing your firm’s “ideal project volume” is to develop an Ideal Project Profile as a common target. To create the profile, first use the exercises below to zero in on projects that best utilize your core competencies, and then refine the profile in the next section using the additional project and client characteristics.

FishFrom our fishing analogy in Beyond the ‘Fluff’ Getting Started – Marketing in a Nutshell: The goal of this step is to identify the types of fish that thrive on what you have to offer them (your firm’s core competencies). So you’ll list the types of projects that require one or more of your firm’s core competencies as essential elements. In other words, the things your firm does best are critical factors in ensuring these types of projects succeed.

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Win More Projects Matching Your Firm’s Engineering Skills with our Marketing Process

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Now that Beyond the ‘Fluff’ Getting Started – Marketing in a Nutshell has given you an overview of how the entire marketing process works, the next step is to identify your firm’s key strengths.

Core Competencies – Your Key to Being “Uniquely Qualified” for Projects

In order to consistently ensure that your firm is “uniquely qualified” for engineering projects on which you are bidding, your firm must have a solid understanding of your core competencies, or key strengths. Identifying these strengths and ensuring the services you offer fully leverage your strengths will:

  • Make you more competitive since you’ll bid for projects from a position of strength
  • Enable you to more easily command the price you want as your value will be more obvious
  • Increase the success rate of your projects, satisfying clients and increasing repeat business.

FishFrom our fishing analogy in Beyond the ‘Fluff’ Getting Started – Marketing in a Nutshell: In this step you are classifying what you have to attract “fish” – Minnows? Worms? Squid?

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Win More Projects Matching Your Firm’s Engineering Skills with our Marketing Process

Marketing is basically a matching game. You have services you want to sell at a certain price, and you seek clients that want to buy services like those you offer at the price you want to charge.

Simple, right? The concept is simple; however there are many things that must come together to market successfully. Just as with engineering, there are many potential pitfalls unless you are knowledgeable and aware of possible issues. Below are some guidelines to help you efficiently and effectively find clients that are a good match for your services.

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