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Topics: Marketing

Why is tech marketing so bad? And what can we do instead?

December 15, 2022   Posted By Cyndi Friedel

Every year, manufacturers introduce thousands of tech products. Some succeed, but many don’t, even though they may offer excellent performance or solve an important technical challenge. All too often, products that fail to hit their sales targets do so as the result of ineffective marketing. Simply building the best product in your category is no guarantee the buying public will reward you with their business.

Here are some of the most common mistakes manufacturers make in marketing their

  • They fail to speak the same “language” as their customers do. Too often, they use highly
    technical, pompous-sounding language in their marketing communications that does more to intimidate the reader than to inform or persuade. There’s usually far too much emphasis on technical specifications, and nearly nothing about how the product will improve someone’s work, life, or future. Too often, language is internally driven or “me-focused” rather than revolving around the needs of the customer. They write boring, self-congratulatory, and/or unintelligible press releases that will never get picked up by the media. Even if they are, potential buyers are unlikely to read them.

  • They unwittingly put their engineers in charge of shaping their communications strategy and execution. Even terrifically smart engineers typically don’t have the training and experience to be good copywriters, so why would you ask them to take on such an important task? Would you let your art director design your products? Would you put your copywriter in charge of failure analysis?

  • They name their products poorly. The product names they develop either don’t convey
    the essence of the product (the dreaded three-letter acronyms or meaningless strings of numbers) or actually create confusion about what benefits/advantages it offers the buyer. For example, one manufacturer named a new product the Series 100A; to their customers, that implied that the 100A was just an incremental improvement over the Series 100. Because of this unimaginative name, the market didn’t get the message that the 100A was actually a new platform with capabilities far broader than what came before it.

  • They waste time, money, and customer goodwill by trying to “farm out” marketing communications to the lowest bidder. Go on any of the job bidding sites out there, like elance.com or one of the growing number of content farms, and you’ll find plenty of people desperate enough to write blog posts and articles for pennies a word. Sure, they’re out there. But do you really think scrimping on communications quality is the best way to market a product that may have cost millions to develop and manufacture?

  • They fail to exploit the expanding opportunities the changing media landscape offers. Tech companies that pride themselves on their innovative product designs need to be just as innovative in marketing those products, and take advantage of new publishing trends. For example, in the wake of the economic recession, long-standing publications are merging and becoming increasingly online-only ventures with limited editorial staffs. Fewer writers on staff mean more opportunities for motivated manufacturers to fill the void. For those who are able and willing to contribute high-quality editorial content like articles and blogs regularly, these new media opportunities can offer very powerful, yet inexpensive ways to reach potential buyers.

So, what should tech manufacturers do instead? The first step is to get their marketing communications strategy in order. Insights from existing customers need to be driving the “language bus,” not the perspectives of the people in engineering. Everybody involved in distributing marketing communications – whether in house or at an agency -- should be involved in its creation. Public relations professionals can offer invaluable perspectives on what messaging will prove effective with both the media and the public, and can help shape the communications strategy. That will allow you to go to market with a clear, powerful message based on what customers actually want to know, not on what the engineering staff considers the most impressive spec.


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