Attention Tech Marketing! You Speak With Experts.
A couple of weeks ago I attended the largest European technology conference – the Hannover Messe. I absorbed knowledge, participated in small talk and discussions and observed the atmosphere. Having the freedom to take a step back at such a vibrating and intense event deepened once more my reflection on the ambiguous relationship of marketing communication and IT.
“Sorry, this is only marketing.”
One message in various variations was regularly circulating through the more than 30 fair halls. “We did that already ten years ago. Marketing just invented a new term for it.” “I am not from marketing.” “You have to distinguish between marketing and practice.” The technology experts distanced themselves from the marketing efforts of their companies as they were eager to exchange real-life project experiences and information. This is not only a conference phenomenon, but daily routine in tech environments.
Why do marketing departments even develop communication strategies that are not resonating with technical target groups? There are two very good reasons and one unspoken shortcoming for this kind of mismatch.
1. Heterogeneous target groups
There is not one target group for a technology solution. You have to address users, technologists, purchasing managers, integration partners, influencers and decision makers. The buying center of each organisation is structured differently. Also, the knowledge and interest in IT topics of representatives of each target group segment strongly varies. Moreover, a technology solution can be of value in various industries. Especially for innovative products, there is an enormous multitude of potential use cases. This implies that you don’t explain one product, but you have to provide various adapted stories in different “expert languages”, which are often not associated with your own core business at all. At the same time, you need to ensure a consistency in your messaging. That’s where a main story and catchy terminology comes into play. By providing simple access to a complex tech product, you also start addressing new target groups that might not have been aware of a digital solution for their very specific pain point.
2. The power of messages
One major leitmotif of the Hannover Messe was the “Digital Twin”, which refers to the possibility of representing physical entities in a digital counterpart. One speaker stated quite bluntly that this would be nothing else than object-oriented modelling and he is right. However, when we speak about object-oriented modelling, the conversation will become technical right from the start. When we open up our imagination by the term “digital twin” we start exploring how the technology can be used for various business challenges. Digital Twins can mean so much if we decouple it from the perspective of a pure programming language. Doctors don’t have to apply AI solutions on real patients, but can test, adapt and learn from their digital support systems on a digital reproduction. A digitally enabled factory doesn’t have to go live in order to get optimized. Having a digital twin allows corporations to build and finetune their own Industry 4.0 environment on computers. That way the best possible option will get built. These are only two very high-level use cases. The benefits of a digital twin start with much more granular processes, but you have to detect them.
3. Shortage of tech marketers
Tech marketing is about different layers of communication in a complex ecosystem. Creating strong pictures and emotions around technology is essential to speed up its adoption. However, companies shouldn’t underestimate the knowledge and interest of the various target groups and serve them also with educational communication. Unfortunately, many IT organizations struggle to find an effective balance between inspiring buzz and marketing communication that goes further. Often the marketing department is the only dedicated resource for producing marketing collateral. However, marketers need expert input to extend their portfolio of communication products for their demanding audiences. Even if a product manager is available for a knowledge transfer to a marketing person, the final deliverables are often disappointing. Tech marketing is a different discipline than marketing communication. Successful tech marketers have a strong urge to discover more about technologies and they combine information into compelling stories. They understand techies, but can easily switch between different layers of communication. They don’t write things down as they were communicated to them, but they transform the information into something new. Usually good tech marketers don’t come with linear educational and working histories, which makes them hard to find. They know different worlds and truly understand various target groups.
How to tackle communication complexity
Good tech marketing is inspiring and informative and runs on content. Don’t leave it solely to classic marketers, copywriters or technical writers to deepen the conversation along the sales funnel. Find an appropriate tech marketer or engage a group of people with different backgrounds in the content production process.