Selling to Engineers who Belittle Marketing

In his classic 1957 book, “The Hidden Persuaders,” Vance Packard wrote about marketing in the automobile industry and how they put convertibles on display in their showrooms to attract customers, the majority of whom would purchase sedans.  Today, automotive marketers display red convertibles in showrooms and the most popular cars on the road are white sedans.



People are people!  We are all influenced by emotional and rational factors. In fact, there’s an old adage that people buy based upon emotion and justify their purchase rationally.  Engineers especially see themselves as logical, rational, and unaffected by color, scent, packaging, subliminal messages, and other marketing techniques.  They believe they are above the influence of these ploys. Perhaps that is why many have such contempt for those of us in the marketing profession.


Marketers and top salespeople understand that human behavior isn’t always “rational” and engineers feel comfortable in their predictable “cause and affect” world where trouble-shooting always begins at the power source.  Is it plugged in? Okay, let’s examine the connections, etc.  Logic governs…


Over the years I’ve met dozens of engineers who were contemptuous of marketing.  I’ve listened to their arguments about their rational view of the world and how engineers aren’t influenced by anything other than logic.


To make my point about the impact of factors on their “decision making,” other than those on a conscious level I’d ask, “Do you like women?  Most would say “yes” and I’d continue, “let me ask you a question: If a gorgeous woman walked into this room right now and began doing an incredibly erotic strip tease for you, would you become sexually aroused?”  “Yes, of course, they’d respond (reluctantly).”  My next question was, “How would you define that response: was it emotional or rational?”


Engineer’s are people too and like the rest of us, they’re affected by “hidden persuaders,” as well as reason.  In fact, I believe advances in technology have accelerated faster than people can assimilate.   But, that’s a topic for another essay.


(C) 2011  Steven M. Stroum

Steve Stroum

Steve Stroum

Steven M. Stroum, founder and president of Venmark International is a seasoned publicist, marketer, and entrepreneur who has been featured in INC Magazine, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, Industrial Marketing, OMNI Magazine, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, The Middlesex News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other media outlets. He has also appeared on numerous radio and television programs, addressed many business and civic groups, and been a guest lecturer at Boston College, Babson College, MIT, and his alma mater Northeastern University.

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