There are two basic rules marketers should understand when communicating with technical people: the technology business speaks a different dialect, and technology information should be communicated with full transparency. These are pretty simple concepts, but in practice they often prove daunting to proper communication. Let’s take a look at some good and bad communications from some of the top marketing firms in the world, from the first place anyone might meet them – their own Websites. This first in a series about engaging the technology and science sector, is intended as a primer for pre-engagement thinking.
When you fly to another country, do you really expect the people there to speak your language? Are you the center of their universe? The answers should be obvious. This is essentially where your marketing or services firm is headed when engaging technology and science professionals. The obvious problem being, you probably have little grasp of their terminology, and perhaps even less of an idea of how to inform them of your commodity. Communicators often speak in generalities, while any good technology business is focused on exactitude. Technology as an institution, is about the mathematics or defined action – in short, no fluff will do.
How To and “Not” To
It will be necessary for the purpose of giving clear examples to nit pick some messages very powerful marketing agencies have “put out there” with regard to their website’s corporate dogma. The example below is taken from a marketing service called One Technologies , one of the fastest growing ad and marketing firms in the U.S., according to Inc. The text below is from their landing.
“One Technologies is a fast-growing, entrepreneurial, profitable company that provides digital customers to business through strategic ad placement, pay-per-click campaigns and proprietary search engine optimization and analytic methods.”
Obviously, this passage contains a lot that technically geared readers do not need to hear (or any reader for that matter). Do you care if this company is “fast growing” or entrepreneurial? Do you even care if they make money? Does anyone know what a digital customer looks like? Neo from the Matrix perhaps? Taken in the context of being Website content, and other considerations about this company’s real value, just suffice it to say this service “appears” to be less about (proprietary?) SEO, strategic ad placement, and pay-per-click, than it is about “analytic methods” (my perception, but it could be anyone’s easily). The message being sent here is too ambiguous, and at least appears non-transparent.
Now for an example of “better” language, someone in the technology realm (or anyone) needs to hear. The following excerpt is from Inc.’s second fastest growing ad and marketing firm, the behemoth – Red Ventures
“We acquire customers for the world’s leading brands…..The risk is ours, and we are only paid for results, offering our partners unparalleled market reach with limited exposure.”
Red Ventures did have some “fluff” in between, but anyone looking for marketing can understand the core message here; “We get your customers, or you don’t pay us.” I would read on, as I expect anyone would. The people obviously are a no nonsense marketing firm, though some of their language is geared toward PR, likely a necessity because of their client base. The bottom line here? This one statement does more for clear, sharp and exacting conveyance than any statement on their Website. In fact, the company would have to totally goof up the rest of their jargon to get this “performance” out of the minds of potential clients. Superb.
Lastly, it seems appropriate to reveal the best communicators of the bunch here, a very powerful player called MediaWhiz. Their simple message is; “Observe the statements in the big banner, look down to the simple interface, find what you are looking for, and we will explain how we do it for you.” The landing here has no absurd or overly “chatty” text, but a simple (nothing below the fold) link driven nav list which tells the whole story.
In effect, MediaWhiz “practices what they preach” (and what tech developers preach too for that matter) – a great website, perfect links, images, and a navigable UI, and particularly the right calls to action are worth more than a million lines of text. In effect, MediaWiz’s expertise is exhibited on the landing, the best place a digital communications company can have it.
As you can see above, the top navigation is clear and concise, while the textual links say the rest. Underneath the language is just as clear and to the point, without being uninformative. I mentioned that Marketing language should “never” insult the intelligence of the intended recipient.
Even The Great Fail Sometimes
Several of these top marketing firms gave testimonials that were obvious BS, and examples of Google results from their “supposed” SEO efforts, which were actually ridiculous. Conversely, MediaWhiz’s testimonials are in the form of reviews by the most respected experts in SEO, graphic design, SEM, SMO, and etc. The point here being, “If you are going to use testimonials, make them credible and make them count,” otherwise you insult your potential customer.
The need for clarity, transparency, and even brevity is clearly a big plus for any business consumer these days. However, one insight the marketing professional (who does not know) needs to understand is, “geeks” or technical people are not as forgiving as some other professionals are. Also, an online brand simply has to live and breathe online. What this means is simply, a company professing to be digital, had better show it, and show it fast. So many pay lip service, while MediaWiz and some others brand themselves properly.
Any technical or scientific person I know would be asking one simple question or any potential marketing firm; “If you cannot do these things for yourself, how can you do them for us?”
Think about highly technical and scientific people do for a living. They put ideas into motion using very precise rules – for the lack of a better term – the laws of physics and logic. A marketing approach to someone with this mindset, which is not direct and crisp, which has empirical evidence, is doomed to fail. As in all communications, it is crucial to know the audience. In our next article we will explain how to avoid these common mistakes, as well as how optimize your tech marketing language. Unless your company intends to engage graduates of the Fashion Institute of Technology, to help in marketing pet fashion (classes open now), 21st Century communications is going to require getting back to basics as well as forging ahead with new ideas.
Even marketing pet technology requires some “doggy speak” you know? I leave the reader with an instructional about speaking the language.