For engineering consultants, marketing is an important part of building awareness and creating a customer base. You will be responsible for all marketing activities because you do not have the strength of a company behind you. Conduct a thorough, careful study of the audience and market before making materials and starting marketing activities to make sure that your efforts are not wasted. It is important to make the best use of your time because you will be handling promotion by yourself.
Determine the target audience. Evaluate your expertise and qualifications and determine the type of customer that you are best positioned to serve. You might choose to target small engineering firms that focus on a specific area of mechanical engineering, for example, or look for architects who need engineering advice. Define your audience based on industry, type of engineering, business size, location and whether or not they have an in-house engineering team.
Research potential clients. In the area that you will be operating, look for specific companies that might benefit from your consulting services. Look at their websites and marketing materials to get a sense of how they perceive professional communication. This can help you understand how to talk to them and how to present your own marketing message.
Analyze competitor marketing strategies. If you have a solid knowledge of the ways your competitors are promoting their consulting services, you can better understand how to stand out from the crowd. Identify ways that your service is better or different from your competitors, and list ways that you are better equipped to serve the members of your target audience. Consider competitive software skills, expertise in a particular engineering technology or process or unusual experience in a new, emerging or unique area.
Design marketing materials. If you have the software and design skills, you can design your own brochures, business cards, letterhead and website. If not, hire a marketing professional. Use wording and copy that will speak to your target customers and stick with a relatively similar design aesthetic that will not spook traditional engineering firms. Keep in mind the things that concern an engineer on a typical product: price, timeline, delivery guarantee and profitability. Focus on your strengths and make the benefits to the customer clear and easy to find.
Attend industry events. A key part of marketing as a consultant is networking; sign yourself up for meet-and-greet evenings, networking events, trade shows, industry meetings and presentations. Introduce yourself to engineers, business owners, architects, city planners and professionals who might require engineering services without needing an entire firm. The more you can get your name and basic service offering out into the community, the more recognition you will have.
Send a marketing package to target clients. After spending some time with engineering firms in your area, you will form an idea of the clients you are best positioned to help. Send each of these companies a package of your marketing materials and portfolio samples, if available, together with a targeted letter of introduction that mentions specifics about how your expertise can fit their needs. Follow up with a phone call to schedule a meeting.