Emerging tech can present unique challenges to marketing professionals and the organizations that they represent. Great care and attention is put into developing new technologies that solve problems in unique ways, often creating new value that didn’t previously exist. However, their current or potential customers are familiar with their current solution and/or the way they are doing things now. They might question the value of the new solution, or have difficulty understanding the benefits of a new way of doing things. Often, they might even see the solution as disruptive to their operation – a threat.
When marketing for emerging tech companies, often the challenge is that the company is creating a new market that didn’t exist previously. This can be a real and present danger to the status quo. The number one competitor that emerging tech companies often face is their customers simply “doing nothing.”
This challenge is compounded by another problem that all startups typically have: the fact that nobody really knows that they exist. It goes back to the age-old saying, “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Or better adapted for emerging tech, “if a business problem is solved and no one understands the value (or has even heard of the company offering the solution), does it get it even get considered?”
But wait, there’s more! Another key challenge that often hampers emerging tech companies: the obscurity of the problem that is being solved. This factor can make it difficult to reach your target audience with a message that impacts them, and that they can spread virally to the influencers in their respective organizations. The more obscure the problem is the more challenging it can be to find the right audience – not to mention the right message.
One thing that doesn’t change for emerging tech companies and remains true for marketing across the spectrum: word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. The combination of trust and targeting are the key reasons why this is true. People are more likely to trust the word of their peers over an advertisement, and in an interpersonal context, peers are less likely to share information that isn’t relevant. Word of mouth, of course, is a “Chicken-and-the-Egg” problem. How does a company start a word of mouth campaign that can sustain itself and drive customers into their pipeline?
It starts with the messaging Foundation that you use to communicate with your audience. Here is the reality: when you are doing business in emerging tech what you are ultimately doing is trying to create a movement. The way you create a movement is by building your messaging in such a way that your customer sees themselves as a part of it. They must see their problems and their solutions in your messaging in a way that triggers emotional buy in and gives them a reason to care about taking action.
“Emotional buy-in” does not mean being sappy. What it means is understanding the psychological brain triggers that get the target customer motivated to change their habits and try something new. It means diving into the customers hopes, fears, and concerns and building your communications strategies from that foundation. It means building a vocabulary that illustrates and connects with both their pain and aspirations and inspires them to talk about it with their peers. It also means identifying disruptive insights that capture the essence of the challenge that is faced – and the missed opportunity that can be avoided.
Too often in the business world, marketers are afraid to consider how emotion plays into their messaging. This is especially true in the technology realm, where the customers are sometimes seen as right-brained robot-people who think only in 1’s and 0’s. Nothing could be further from the truth. Engineers, business-managers, and CFO’s all have one thing in common: they are human beings with human emotions and human concerns. They are susceptible to everything that goes with being human, including the evolutionary circuitry that developed the brains of our species.
You might have the most logically sound solution to your customers’ problem that could ever be dreamed up, but if you can’t make the right customer care, it will fall flat. Brute force logic can work, but it’s not the most effective way. Customers care about their problems – their situation. Connect to this through their emotions with messages that give them reason to ponder the possibilities and your customers will come to a logical conclusion on their own much faster.
How does this actually work? It takes careful planning and consideration of each of your customer profiles – including the decisionmaker chain. Determining all the hot button emotional triggers that give your prospects confidence that you can solve their problem and tamps down their fears and anxieties is a careful process that takes time and thought. Having experienced professionals to guide the process is a great idea and ensures that you’re covering your bases.
With the right messaging strategy in place, your ability to effectively communicate with your customers in a way that is meaningful increases across the organization. You’ll spend less time convincing, and more time making the sale.
Isaac Lopez is a high tech marketing veteran with a two decade career in advanced and emerging tech.