How to stand out when every tech company says the same thing
A while back, during a conversation deep into a project with an enterprise-level client, a senior executive gave our team a glimpse into the sad state of tech marketing today.
“Everyone copies each other,” he admitted. “A guy I know at one of our biggest competitors told me recently that their team checks our website once every few weeks, takes a look at our messaging, and then updates their site to basically say the same thing. Sad but true.”
At first his candor was hard to take seriously. But the more we thought it over and looked around, the more we saw the same thing:
The same tech talking points appeared time and again. What could explain this phenomenon?
Do all these companies really do the same thing? Or are we all just that unoriginal? Is every tech marketer given the same standard issue thesaurus on their first day?
It’s true there are only so many words in the dictionary. But for every one instance where simply no other word or phrase will do, there are a hundred cases of pure-and-simple laziness at best, or copycatting at worst.
Shouldn’t we all be trying to stand out? Isn’t that kinda the whole point?
If your “plan” — and we’re being generous here — is no more strategic than building your marketing communications around the latest buzzword-du-jour or product feature flavor-of-the-month, you’re just asking to miss your sales goals. Across the tech landscape, enterprises and startups alike are screaming “cloud this” and “AI that.” With every new voice that joins in, it becomes harder and harder to distinguish one from all the rest.
Your customers are tired of hearing the same messages.
I can only imagine you’re tired of writing them, too.
You need to stand out in this sea of sameness. So here’s a few tried-and-true tips any marketer can use to keep their messages fresh, relevant, and differentiated in the ever-changing world of tech.
Tip #1: Write for people, not for features
Effective tech marketing depends more on your ability to communicate the fundamental value you bring to your customers, and less on whether you have every feature under the sun.
“Feeds and speeds” have their place, to be sure. But they’re no substitute for a human story that resonates with those you most want to reach. Tapping into a people-first product messaging strategy starts with a relatable narrative that positions your customers as the hero of their own story.
Customers are people after all. And people love stories. We have since the dawn of history. People seek common ground, confidence, emotion, humor, insight, and empathy.
Successfully express the human side of your product’s value proposition and you’ll be way ahead of your competitors.
Develop audience personas geared around the challenges your customers face every day. Managing projects, writing code, planning time, storing data, securing transactions, these jobs (and a million others just like them) are what your customers will, in essence, be hiring your product to help them accomplish.
This Jobs-to-be-Done framework is among the most useful tools we’ve found to get inside the heads of customers and understand how what you offer can bring real value to them.
Tip #2: Check your tone
Tone of voice is a crucial arrow in your communications quiver. Remember, in marketing as in life, it’s often not only what you’re saying, but also how you say it.
When all of your messages are written with an authentic tone of voice, your audiences will begin to recognize it, trust it, and look to it for guidance.
Like those of people, brand voices come in many varieties. Maybe yours uses slang and makes pop culture references. Perhaps you want to take risks and say something surprising. Or maybe your goal is to adopt more plainspoken language in an industry overrun with tech jargon and marketing gobbledygook.
Not sure which of the above voices is right for you, your product, and your audience? Conduct a voice exercise with your team to identify the characteristics and personality traits that are yours and yours alone. Create actionable guidelines that help any content creator know how and when to use their voice appropriately.
Few tech companies take more care when it comes to their voice than Mailchimp, which created an entire microsite dedicated to their voice and brand personality. As far as inspiration goes, it’s as good as it gets.
Tip #3: K.I.S.S. (Keep It Specific, Stupid)
Let’s be clear, if everyone in your space — including you — wants to talk about collaboration, innovation, and productivity, that’s perfectly fine. But don’t stop there.
Explain to your audiences what collaboration means to you. What innovation looks like with your product at their fingertips. How productivity delivers real results that will matter. Frame your core value propositions against the backdrop of their pain points and the world they experience every day.
Many tech marketers rightly target developers as a key audience segment. It’s hard to think of a more skeptical, more technical audience to try and reach. Simply claiming “cloud” or “collaboration” without added details will ensure your messages are dead on arrival.
If you want to get a developer’s attention, get specific. Talk about how collaboration means securely sharing source code across devices. Talk about how productivity means cutting down development environment setup times by a provable percentage. Talk about innovation by sharing how other developer teams that have found success using your product.
When building your messaging strategy, take time to express the right level of detail without getting too lost in the weeds. You can always save the tech specs and pricing fine print for the sales conversation.
Tip #4: Find fresh eyes
Old habits die hard. Marketers are busy people with lots of competing priorities. It can be hard to imagine embarking on a full messaging refresh when you’re cranking to meet a deadline for your next sales kickoff presentation. Totally understandable.
But without a diligent, strategic approach to your marketing messages, what inevitably happens?
Headlines get recycled.
Slides get repurposed.
Buzzwords rear their hideous heads.
It can be hard to sniff out a message’s expiration date when you’re drinking it in every day. Familiar phrases are hard to kick, even when they’ve outlived their relevance. We’re creatures of habit, all of us. It’s only natural.
All of which leaves your team and your customers with a womp-womp when what they want is a woohoo!
In situations like these, a favorite New Kind saying comes to mind: “you need fresh eyes.”
Look outside your organization for a much-needed messaging jump-start. We know you’re not exactly swimming in free time. Augmenting your internal team with an outside partner not only adds to your creative capacity, but also adds an invaluable dose of fresh perspective.
We believe a blended approach is best. Working with an expert partner who knows your industry and what you’re up against, but who can still offer the objectivity needed to help push you to heights you haven’t yet reached.
Whether you get in touch with us or someone else, seeking support from outside your own four walls is among the most effective ways any organization can evolve and improve its marketing messaging.