Engineering as Marketing Theory and Practice

March 11, 2023 •

Are you looking for innovative marketing techniques to promote your product or service? Have you ever heard about "engineering as marketing"? This strategy leverages your company's expertise to produce free yet helpful tools for your target clients, ultimately generating leads for your paid products.

Though unconventional, this strategy can help your business establish a reputation for quality and excellence. It presents a golden opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition and increase your market share. Read on as we explore how to turn simple tools into cutting-edge marketing plan in theory and practice.

What is engineering as marketing?

Engineering as marketing is a tactic that entails a company creating valuable tools for its ideal customers. These free products tend to showcase your company's technical capabilities and provide customers with a satisfying interaction with your offerings. As a result, your brand grows in awareness, which sets you up as a market leader in your field.

What are the examples of engineering as marketing?

Most companies offer their clients free tools: pricing calculators, widgets, basic apps, micro-sites, free online tools, evaluation sites, chatbots, and research tools. Take theese cases as examples.


When marketing Bing's Visual Search, they introduced a free What Dog tool? It helped them showcase their image search feature and drive users to their search engine.


Similarly, DuckDuckGo, an alternative search engine, launched, an illustrated guide showing how Google tracks its users. It garnered press attention, driving the unknown search engine's brand awareness.


As a platform for building websites, it utilized a free business name generator to attract potential clients. Naturally, if you haven't chosen a name for your company yet, you likely don't have a website either. It means that the users of this free tool are likely to use Wix in the future.


Shutterfly is a platform that deals in personalized photography products, released a free wedding hashtag generator. This tool targets betrothed couples, who are likely to purchase Shutterfly's other products for their wedding.


One of the most popular, software company dealing in digital marketing solutions, released a free website grader. With it, businesses can see how effectively their websites are performing, and what aspects need improving. On the same tool, Hubspot markets its services by offering a free trial to anyone looking to improve their website.


Our team recently launched ElegantDoc, a free document generator that rivals all others with payment subscription. The simplicity and customizability of this tool showcase our prowess in building software solutions for real-world problems. What's more, we built this product in only a month, and it is the first of a suite of products we plan on releasing in 2023. We also free online tools website, providing IT specialists with a variety of easy to use solutions for small and big tasks. Aiming to simplify our audience workflow, we also bring them a relevant question - answer content in any language to help simplify any level of developers' working process. As an additional example we've launched our encrypted message and password sharing platform - You can use it for free or buy premium subscription if you need an enterprise grade scalable solution.

Why is engineering as marketing important?

People of all generations, from Baby Boomers to Gen-Z, are repeatedly turning to the internet to find solutions to their problems. Although this offers businesses a distinctive marketing opportunity, the internet is heavily populated with companies vying for customers. Despite being effective, digital marketing best practices like SEO, social media, and email marketing should be more widely used, as going above and beyond is the only way to stand out.

That being said, engineering as marketing is no easy feat. It expects you to develop a useful product out of thin air, akin to pulling a rabbit out of a hat. However, taking on this challenge has several advantages, such as:

  • Generates leads: Businesses can email-gate the free tools they provide to their prospective customers. The addresses they collect constitute leads which can then be followed up through email marketing to generate sales.
  • Improves SEO: Free tools can help improve a company's search engine optimization efforts. This is because blogs, articles, and other high-authority sites are likely to contain links to these products. These backlinks ultimately drive traffic to the company's site, effectively increasing its visibility.
  • Sets developers team apart from competition: The free tools that companies offer can help showcase their innovativeness as solutions providers. By demonstrating the quality of their products, such businesses can establish a reputation for themselves as being better than their competitors.
  • Helps new businesses gain traction: For new entrants to the market, a free product can be a great way to establish their presence. Such a product can help them attract potential customers and foster a positive relationship with them. Ultimately, these customers become the paying clientele that grows the company's market base.
  • Improves customer retention: When companies provide free useful tools, it improves customer satisfaction. This can help improve their client relationships, inspiring customer loyalty.

What are the key elements of engineering as marketing?

Albeit highly effective, engineering as marketing is a highly delicate art. Thus, it is not enough to just do it, you have to do it right. Otherwise, you risk getting a negative return on your investment of time and money.

Here are some principles of marketing engineering to keep in mind as you undertake this approach:

  • Your tool should be valuable: The hallmark of this marketing technique is to provide a product that has a tangible benefit to your potential customers.
  • Identify your customer: It is difficult to provide a solution that caters to multiple demographics, as different people have different needs. Rather, focus on one persona who you understand best. Ideally, that should be your target customer, who your tool should solve a specific problem for.
  • Your product should generate leads: Through the tool is free, it should ask for something in return from the customer who utilizes it. This could be contact details or asking them to sign up for a free trial. However, people are more likely to surrender their email addresses than their credit card information. This can help you follow up for future sales.
  • The tool should complement your core product: Though it may be hosted on a different domain, your tool should point back to your company, the creator. It should also be in line with your main offering so that clients can purchase your product if they desire increased functionality.


Albeit unusual, engineering-as-marketing is a powerful strategy that can help raise brand visibility, generate sales leads, and encourage customer retention. It entails providing your target clientele with a free but valuable product that showcases your technical expertise. This strategy can help your company differentiate itself from the competition and hit your marketing objectives.

Speaking of marketing, we have embarked on a path of public marketing. It's a new experience, and things are going nicely. If you're interested in what we're doing to get marketing in public work, check out this blog post: Marketing In Public