The average amount of time a software engineer can talk technology is far greater than many care to listen. That isn’t to say that their efforts aren’t important. Your company wouldn’t have a piece of software or technology to talk about without them. But what an incredible waste it would be after all those efforts—and the efforts of an entire organization—fell flat due to misdirected, ineffective B2B marketing?
If you want to make marketing your software and technology business as impactful as possible, here are 6 essentials to be mindful of:
Go to an outpatient clinic or emergency room and you’ll be asked to pinpoint your pain down to a single, suffering smiley face. The first essential to marketing your software and technology business is to be sure that the essence of what you have to say at the start of any marketing conversation—across all platforms—is brief. Emoji brief. That’s not to say you have to assign an actual emoji to your brand (though you could). Being emoji brief means allowing a lot of white space on a page, while using visually lean icons, brief sections of text or even a single word to communicate to those passing through why you deserve a moment of their time. Recommendation solutions provider Strands sets this up nicely, first with the emotion-packed phrase “monetizing data.” These brief two words speak volumes to anyone with data (and who isn’t drowning in it) and any business that could benefit from increased monetization of what they already have (again, who out there can’t?).
Engineers are interested in how a technology works. Laypeople are interested in the problems a technology can help solve for them. It’s important to make sure that when you create marketing content it is not written to illustrate the amazingness of the technology or praise the efforts of your incredible team (though well-deserved, I’m sure). Your content should call out their concerns, describe scenarios familiar to their everyday lives and tell them how the software or technology can make things better (their jobs easier, their contributions more noticeable or their bottom lines more valuable, for example).
Studies have shown that visual design has a way of working on our emotions. Good design can cause a prospect to convert. Bad design can prompt someone walk away. Design best practices, therefore is an important consideration across all your marketing efforts both online and off. Design has become increasingly important in today’s cross-platform environment where lack of consistency or usability can do the most damage. For example, if your company begins as an app, and that app is marketed with retro graphics, bright hues and a peppy tone—all the marketing that follows should somehow communicate that same energy and art direction (until you grow considerably, but that’s an article for another blog).
Technology is, well, technical. It can be a tricky (and boring) thing to explain and many have shooed away visitors by their bad attempts. Attaching a story to the technology and the problems it solves enables a user not only to “get it” faster and understand it easier, storytelling helps people remember things longer (long enough to adequately explain and champion the technology to the one with the wallet). Some examples of explaining with story include:
The number of technology mediums available to promote stories (especially cross-channel) have given rise to the increasing popularity and effectiveness of storytelling to engage, explain and sell. This adage.com article, Five Ways Brands Can Use Technology with Storytelling to Captivate Audiences is a good, recent read on the subject.
I know, I know. Lands’ End can monogram backpacks and Coca-Cola can print any name you want on a 16oz bottle—what’s a software company to do in the spirit of personalization? A lot, actually. But, then some of that depends on how creative your marketing people are and how much budget you are willing to put toward it. As far as best practices for personalization go, there are some basics it behooves everyone to follow:
Although you may have an audience primarily made up of people who just want the benefits of your product and don’t necessarily need (or desire) to know how the technology actually works, you don’t want to ignore those who do. For the audience that wants to drill down to more technical detail from the get-go, you should make room in your marketing to do that—guiding them either by intuitive links in the site navigation or by creating content that users access by following a more technical persona. In addition to being considerate of the person who wants to start at a more technical pace, by developing content at different levels you acknowledge the less experienced user who wants to learn and appreciates the education piece you add to his/her technology journey.
Marketing your software or technology offering is tricky business for two major reasons:
Be brief. Be creative. But most of all, make sure you don’t come off looking or sounding like your own biggest fan. Instead, make sure everything you do, say and communicate is all about them.