You’ve seen it before—the shifting in the seat, the looking at the watch, the perplexed stare—all things customers do when you bring up new and emerging technology. They think it’s too complicated. Or too new. Or that it’s just for hobbyists. Or, or, or, or… Whatever they think, they’re sure they don’t need it, even when they do. The bottom line is that most businesspeople fail to see how innovative technologies can help their businesses generate revenue, lower costs and eliminate headaches.
Marketing—or rather, the right kind of marketing—can help. Here are five tips that’ll help you get on the right path:
Focus On Business Outcomes
Decision makers are pitched better mousetraps all day. Constant evolution is the fundamental nature of technology. Emerging technology can be powerful and transformative. But it also can be confusing and often seem redundant (to what customers already have), even when it isn’t. Unfortunately, this confusion is the rule instead of the exception and usually the result of pushing tech to people who aren’t technologists. Now that we’re all selling to line-of-business managers, that’s most of today’s purchasing influencers and decision-makers.
Marketing business outcomes is much more effective than focusing on the technology itself. The adage that people don’t buy quarter-inch drills, they buy quarter-inch holes applies to all walks of life, but especially the tech space. After all, nearly everyone knows what a drill is. That’s rarely the case in technology—whether we’re talking hardware, software, biotech, fintech, etc. To underscore the point, here are some examples:
People Don’t Buy…
Calcium channel blockers
Lower blood pressure
256-bit AES encryption
USB PD 3.0
Variable geometry turbochargers
Better engine performance
Outcomes that move the needle in leading-edge technology sales tend to address one (or a combination) of three primary outcomes:
- Increasing sales
- Lowering costs
- Improving customer experience
Avoid Techspeak and Insider Talk
Jargon is complicated and confusing and often goes hand-in-hand with pushing technology rather than business outcomes. Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall into using insider lingo in your marketing campaign when you’re steeped in it all day. Here are three simple ways you can take to avoid this misstep:
- Minimize or eliminate acronyms when you can. One of my favorite blogs on this topic is from CompTIA member Benson Chan, co-founder and COO at Strategy of Things, who offers advice to partners and vendors who are selling IoT. “Stop calling it IoT,” he writes. “You don’t have an IoT solution. You have a solution that helps them minimize truck downtime, maximizes the number of trucks on the road, while minimizing the operating costs per truck and managed with the least amount of people.”
Note: If you must use acronyms, always spell out what they mean on first reference. For example, instead of using AR/VR, use augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR). Don’t assume everyone knows what you mean.
- Write so your uncle (or aunt or grandparent) can understand it. Explaining what your tech does to people who don’t know anything about tech is a reliable method of ensuring that you’re communicating with the broadest possible audience. (If you want to cover your bases, you can always add more in-depth technology briefs among your website resources for more educated buyers or those who’ve advanced to the middle or bottom of your marketing funnel.)
- Use grammar tools. Tools like Grammarly and Hemingway will highlight words and phrases that you gloss over but are likely to trip up your audience.
Show, Don’t Tell
A great lesson from our youth is “show, don’t tell.” That is true especially when it comes to marketing new and emerging technologies. This philosophy applies to all your marketing activities, but its three most potent uses include:
- Demonstrating value through social proof. Testimonials, case studies, earned media and awards are worth their weight in gold – not just when it comes to recruiting new customers but also in communicating to your current customers that they made the right decision when choosing your solution.
- Videos and infographics. Visual representations of your solutions are more engaging and better retained by your audience especially when they’re driving home business outcomes (see Tip 1).
- Webinars and demos. Demos and webinars can check all of the boxes we’ve covered so far, with the added benefits of interactivity and the ability for your prospects to ask questions.
Compare Your Solution to the Norm or Standard
Differentiation matters in marketing. That’s not news, but how its communicated separates technology marketing winners from losers. Listing the features your solution has but your competitors lack requires your customers to translate those features to benefits they’re missing from their current tech. That’s asking a lot, especially if your prospects aren’t tech savvy. Instead, spell it out for them. Be sure to include at least a problem-resolution component. For example:
- Here’s where other solutions fail or come up short, costing you time, headaches, money and missed opportunity …
- Our solution solves those problems by ________, so you can:
- Save up to (or on average) _____ [time or money]
- Reduce [staff or customer frustration and/or redundant processes]
- Capitalize on _____ [revenue or service opportunities]
Establishing return on investment (ROI) is vital to successful tech marketing. Here again, specificity moves the needle. Even if you don’t have studies or standard benchmarks, it’s essential to translate tangible ROI benefits (e.g., averages) wherever possible for both the top and bottom lines. Examples include:
- Revenue/Opportunity Benefits:
- Customers gained
- Revenue increase
- Pipeline and qualified lead increases
- Sales cycle reductions
- Customer attrition and churn reductions
- Improvements in close and/or upsell rates
- Cost Savings and Operational Benefits:
- Direct cost reductions
- Time/labor reductions
- Technology and license reductions
- Customer complaint reductions
- Time-to-resolution (ticket time) improvements
- Employee satisfaction/retention improvements
Every situation is unique, and exceptions sometimes apply, but these principles will serve you well for most of your tech marketing activities and a majority of your prospective customers.
Khali Henderson is a senior partner at BuzzTheory and vice chair of the executive council for CompTIA’s Emerging Technology Committee.
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