My colleagues and I have been in the tech marketing space for well over a decade. Back in the old days it was simple (ish). We used direct input from our customers to shape different kinds of online communities, build social programs, facilitate face-to-face meet-ups and run advocate groups for various purposes. Our goals were to extend customer support, capture ideas and help our IT Pros make the most out of our products. Today, we are tasked with selling and communicating the value of IoT, Big Data, Mobility and BYOD, XaaS, VDI, Software Defined (fill in the blank), Hyper-Converged….I could go on. “IT Trends” have become a noisy space that is understood by a few.
It’s complicated. Emerging technologies and new categories have put us in a position of communicating a vision as the broader context for selling hardware, software or services. On the consumer side, it is much simpler. The Apple Watch is cool and people want it just because. IT Decision-Makers, on the other hand, are some of most skeptical people on the planet and one of the hardest sells of all.
In time, however, just like Cloud adoption, the above technologies will likely be nearing mainstream or at least on the IT priority list for the near future. But, for those of us who don’t have the luxury of time in a highly competitive industry, I give you three philosophies to adopt based on our experiences.
Beware of the Balderdash Effect
There is an old game called Balderdash that is about guessing the correct meaning of an obscure or unknown word among a bunch of fake definitions supplied by the other players. How is this relevant? Conduct a mini experiment. Do some quick online searches on any of the above terms. How many different flavors of definitions for each of these technologies surface? Ironically, some vendors contribute to the confusion by defining the technology based on the features and benefits of their own solution.
IT Decision-Makers have to spend an enormous amount of time wading through the hype and trying to ascertain what things really mean. It is very difficult to evaluate the technology AND compare competitive options. This can become a potential barrier to adoption based on uncertainty (and maybe even fear) on the part of your prospective customers. What and who are they to believe?
In an effort to up-level the conversation our industry (like many others) has slipped into this “jargon-speak” and vendors start to sound the same. Below is an example of a real statement by a large tech company (that will remain nameless) followed by my version with the literal translation of the buzzwords in bold used.
“Cloud is at the nexus of dramatic innovation with mobile as the activation point, data analysis driving differentiation and security as the enabler.”
So if we replace the bolded words with their literal definitions we get this:
Cloud is at the central place of sudden and striking new ideas with Mobile as the hastening point, data analysis driving the product that stands out among the competition and security as the thing that makes it possible.
IT Decision-Makers have a low tolerance for marketing speak and just want the facts and the language above impacts credibility. Here is a nice roundup of current messaging out there today and some terms to use with care or avoid altogether.
Remember to Flaunt your Bhatt
One of my favorite advertisements of all time was Intel’s co-inventor of the USB, Ajaz Bhatt. He struts through the Intel campus with Beatle-like fanfare. It has been shared and viewed on YouTube so many times it can’t be quantified.
The point is this. The brains behind your “innovations” need to be front and center. These are the real rock stars of IT and should be talking and demonstrating what’s possible. Attend any event or trade show and geeks flock to them like groupies. Fold this tactic into your broader marketing efforts and showcase them on multiple channels. Behind the scenes stories and conversations hold so much more value and make things more real than a piece of collateral. It will also help put some excitement behind what’s possible.
Keeping these philosophies in mind will help you help your customers on their journey towards new technologies. I’ll leave you with a simple mantra: be clear, be real and be awesome.
Jenny is a digital content strategist, who leads customer-centric engagements that focus on understanding B2B buying behaviors and developing custom roadmaps.
Her expertise is creating buyer personas and mapping digital content journeys to assess the multi-channel user experience. She helps clients operationalize plans across workstreams and identifies processes to create efficiencies in marketing operations. Jenny also has extensive time under her belt developing and managing customer advocacy programs and community building.
She has helped a diverse group of organizations including Cisco, VMware, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, BMO Harris, Capital One and many others become more customer-centric.