Marketing has made a quantum shift in the last 10 years. Long gone are the days where the only way to reach an audience was one-to-many messages on billboards, in commercials, or in magazine and newspaper ads. Today, unless you are delivering sugar-sweetened drinks to a broad age group, your message needs to be more personal. More customized.
Even those large manufacturers know this. Coke has spent the last few years putting common names on bottles. Don’t have a common name? The drink company sent out vans to population centers where you could get a custom printed can. Even brands that serve the masses understand the power of marketing to the individual.
Marketers understand that the way you talk to a Millennial looking to buy a car is different than the message you craft for a C-level executive looking for a database solution. But customized messaging goes deeper than that. It means presenting your brand in different ways to a CIO than you would a CEO.
Research and analysis have shown that it’s not just what you say to prospects in STEM careers, like biotech, that makes a difference, but also how you say it. The wrong message, or the wrong presentation, can result in a potential customer becoming someone that never considers your products. How does that happen? Or more importantly, what is it about biotech customers, or other STEM prospects, that requires a different marketing approach? And what is the approach to take?
In this article, we’ll talk about five of the most important characteristics of STEM professionals that should shape and color how you market to them.
1. They Want to Solve Problems
It’s a common marketing strategy to talk about the benefits of a product. But for STEM professionals, the benefits aren’t enough. Marketers need to be clear on how these benefits can be used to create solutions, or how they can be used within a larger solution set to solve a problem. This is especially important when speaking to scientists and engineers.
The reason that engineers, software architects, scientists, and other STEM professionals chose the path they did is that they are problem solvers. That means, however, that when crafting a marketing message for these customers, you must make clear to them how your product will help them create answers to the questions they face.
There are many ways to accomplish this. For instance, the messaging on your website can focus on understanding the problems your prospects face, and how your products or solutions help them get there. Case studies, too, can be key for these audiences, as they show how other companies used your solutions to resolve their own challenges.
2. They Hate to be “Sold” to
As DigitalistMag points out in their article on the psychographics of engineers, these professionals would rather be designing and developing than sitting in a meeting. That’s doubly true if it’s a sales meeting.
The “hard sell” to a STEM professional will backfire on a marketer or salesperson. If a scientist, engineer, or technologist feel they are being manipulated or lied to in any way, they will do more than back off from the conversation. These interactions work so poorly on these customers that they will cut ties with an organization that uses these tactics altogether.
Instead, marketers focusing on STEM professionals should provide the pertinent data needed and allow customers breathing room to make a decision. Be attentive to their needs, but not in their face with your messaging.
3. They Like to be Well-Informed and Prepared
The characteristics that are meaningful in creating a good workplace for scientists are also ones that can be leveraged when creating appropriate – and effective – marketing materials for them.
For instance, scientists and other STEM professionals, have a desire to be well prepared and informed and are highly analytical. Providing them with information that helps them understand your products is important. But, even more crucial, is having content and resources that help them answer any question that they might run up against.
When their boss asks about specifications or details about your solution, the STEM professional wants to be able to answer that. Datasheets, whitepapers, and deep dive product information should all be available to these customers in a self-service model. Even if these assets are behind a form, being able to download them without initially talking to someone will build trust with your target audience.
4. They Like to be Hands-on
It’s rare to find someone in a STEM career that doesn’t remain hands-on in some way, even if it’s in their personal life. Building, experimenting, breaking then fixing and then breaking things again are ways these personalities learn more about how innovations and technologies work, and how to use them in new ways.
If your products lend themselves to it, providing downloads or content that promotes a proof of concept will speak volumes to these customers. Being able to “get their hands dirty”, so to speak, will have more meaning to a member of the STEM community than piles of brochures ever will.
5. They Will Evaluate the Alternatives
Whether you want them to or not, your target audience is going to find them, and they are going to compare you to them. They want to know that they have found the optimal solution to solving the problem they are working on and that they are looking to you for answers.
Don’t be afraid of your competition. Learn to embrace the fact that your customers are going to compare you, and create assets that help them do that. Be clear, and honest, about what differentiates you from your competitors. Make comparison charts available on your website, and consider offering that information in a downloadable slide format that your customers can easily slot into a presentation.
Use hard data whenever available and appropriate, either between your products and an industry benchmark or against your competitors. But remember, STEM professionals won’t return to a vendor that they think is lying to them. Ensure that all the data you provide can be backed up with research and reports.
Marketing to scientist, engineers, and technical professionals isn’t rocket science, but their work might be. Providing them specifics on how your product solves the problems they are facing, with hard data, and content that they can access themselves without feeling they are being sold to will speak to your target audience’s personality, building trust and positioning you as an advisor and expert.