I have been watching the software industry evolve from the early days of consumer electronics in the 1970s all the way up to today. I have watched underdogs rise to glory, and corporate giants stumble and fall. The one continuing issue that seems to make or break them is product marketing for technology companies.
Of course, marketing is often a make or break thing, but it’s entirely possible to have an utterly daft marketing strategy and yet still succeed. However, this seems to not be the case for software and technology, and I kind of see why. Technology is a difficult thing to market, and new technology is a bit of an intimidating and mystifying thing to demographics which they target, which culminates in an overall failure more often than a success.
Well, product marketing for technology companies is a bit of what we call a soft science, meaning that it’s subject to the whims of the populace, and what works today doesn’t always work tomorrow. However, there are some common mistakes that can be avoided, and some common guidelines which can definitely help ensure a greater success.
Today, I am going to talk about three points that are actually six. In each point, I will discuss a common mistake that technology companies make, and a common guideline to follow which can abate this mistake, as well as proactively help. There’s no guarantee in marketing, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn from our mistakes!
#1 – Slam Advertising and Informative Material
Slam advertising often works for a lot of product niches, directly calling out one’s most noted competitor and insulting them, whilst edifying your own product. Fast food and soft drink companies famously do this, and it usually works, if for no other reason, than because it makes a spectacle out of the entire thing.
However, it doesn’t work for technology that well. It once did, the console wars of the early 90s exemplifying this … but the public isn’t going to fall for that today. Technology is science, and as science, the populace wants to know concretely why your product is superior to a competitor’s in layman’s scientific terms.
As a result, focusing on slamming your competitor is not the direction to go. Rather, publish case studies, white papers and presentations that show how proficient your product is, be it electronics or software. Let it speak for itself by demonstrating its power and quality in pure information.
#2 – Barking Up the Wrong Tree
I’ve talked a little about this before, but it’s really pertinent here. While a lot of products can be broadly advertised indiscriminately of demographics a given medium is likely to reach, technology is not such a niche. This means that choosing the right channels to reach out through is more important, and some channels just don’t’ work unless your product is a game.
Television and radio only work for things like games and very casual technology (mobile phones, consoles, laptops). You’re going to waste a lot of energy trying to advertise business software or other such things over these mediums.
You’re better off using PPC and social media marketing to prevent this, because they will smartly reach the appropriate demographics by placing the ads on pages and profiles which attract the demographics you’re marketing to. Technology is very demographic sensitive from one thing to the next, so wasting energy barking up the wrong tree is calamitous for it.
#3 – Be Clear
This is a mistake medications and technology both make when advertising. A lot of effort will go into giving a product exposure, prestige and memorability, but its actual purpose is often obfuscated or utterly omitted from the information given.
This is a bad idea, because it will annoy users, and they will just get tired of hearing about something when they don’t even know what it is. Or at the very least, they won’t realize that this is a product they want. This is becoming less of a recurring mistake in technology, but it’s still fairly prevalent.
Be very clear in even the most minimalist advertising and marketing, as to who the product is for and what it does. Because then, people will go “oh, it’s a that? Great, I need one of those!”
Product marketing for technology companies isn’t easy, as this clearly shows. But nothing worth doing ever is easy, and if you just learn from these mistakes, and be proactive with these solutions, you’re on your way to greater success than your forerunners ever had.