Being in the communications industry for more than thirty years, I’ve become friends with all types of people. Most of my conversations are with technologists – a kinder description of those who prefer to read technical specifications during lunch breaks before they go back to optimizing their software or tweaking the parameters on their routers to squeeze through a few more bits.
I recently witnessed a friendly discussion between friends quickly spiral into a heated shouting match on which API is better to use. It turned into “The Great Race of 2019 – Part 2” – a race to code metrics into the differing approaches of the API so that each had the necessary KPIs to prove their point. I am still not sure who won the race, or for that matter, the debate! I did see them eating lunch together last week in the break room.
Which leads me to the point of this article: what is the best way to convince a technologist of the merits of a product? While there is no easy answer to this question, I am going to share a high-level strategy that will help any technical marketer break through the techno-barrier by creating intriguing information that grabs your audience’s attention and sets them up for the vital information you are revealing about your widget or solution.
The good news is that you have their initial attention! They are reading or listening to something that matters to them – or they would not be reading or listening in the first place! With their initial attention, the marketer needs to convince the reader that their time on this piece is worthwhile. Start by conveying your knowledge of the topic – after all, you need to show you have the knowledge and expertise of their issues so that they will find value in your guidance. You can quickly achieve this goal by focusing on the fact that the widget resolves their concern. For example, state facts about the product – the new algorithm runs 22% faster than the prior approach while remaining compliant to the industry standard. Reiterate that the optimized algorithm meets – or exceeds – the stated goal because of the unique intellectual property used. Being able to home in on implementations that result in patents will maintain their interest and will build their respect for the solution. Of course, these are just examples, and the goal in marketing to a technologist is to align the product’s unique characteristics with real-world business concerns and goals.
With their attention fully focused on the piece, continue to draw the technologists closer to your values. Many a mistake occurs when the marketer relies on a list of historical facts as justification for evolving the product. When it is essential to lay the foundation for the new product, tell a specific story that highlights the compelling need for the new product or the enhancements to the existing product. By using an anecdote that summarizes the history, you are not wasting their time by rehashing what they know, and you are building the piece’s credibility. Explain that the new solution improves on the legacy product. Incorporate the relevant details in this discussion – these specifics about your widget lures them towards the value statements that your new product provides them. Now, set the hook that keeps them locked into your piece: show them how the solution solves their problem or resolves their issue – or their customers’ concerns.
You may be saying that this is all obvious; after all, the article itself is not rocket science. However, keeping the technologist engaged is more art than science. Good marketers are not long-winded – or long-worded! It’s quite easy to lose the audience by drifting off the target or by misaligning the goal with non-relevant facts. Be careful to use the best story or analogy that quickly conveys how the solution quantifiably improves time, money, energy, resources – whatever the value is.
Technologists need more than vague references – give them relevant images.
Along with good stories, relevant images can simplify complex points you are making. And creating phrases that augment the image’s value, but do not repeat the points can bring the objectives out even more. Blending imagery with text is a highly effective tool that brings clarity to complex ideas.
Finally, the piece must inspire them to act. As in the debate I witnessed between my colleagues, they jointly agreed to an action plan that provided each an opportunity to acquire the information that would convince their opponent to change their mind. The action must be a challenge to their intellect – they need to derive an outcome, but the work to achieve those results cannot be prohibitive. The final words of your engagement must do more than summarize what you already told them. Don’t get me wrong, you need to remind them of the salient points that captured and maintained their attention but building a challenge for them keeps your product – and its values – front of mind. The goal of the challenge is to push the technologists into action – which is what you are wanting. You want engagement; you want the opportunity to continue the discussion; you want to learn what is important to them so that you can improve your future conversations.
At the end of the day, challenge brings intrigue, intrigue begets questions, and your product contains the answers.