Why should your marketers speak tech?

You’ve built a DF/IR product or are ready to expand your service, and now you need marketing staff; or, your existing staff needs additional support. You know you’re good at engineering, and you think if you can code just about any kind of software, a marketer can work in just about any kind of industry. What you need is the skill; you can teach them your industry as they go. Right?

We’re good, but not that good. The fact is, just as if someone asked you to write code in C or C++ when you only know Java or Python, you’d have to do fair amount of work to catch up. You’d be able to transfer fundamentals of programming, of course, but there would be a learning curve first to learn the language, then to be able to build something useful (i.e. according to the product manager’s requirements documentation).

Back to that first paragraph. We certainly have the mad skills you don’t have time to learn, like how to plan an integrated multi-channel campaign and develop an editorial calendar to track sets of campaigns throughout the year. But when it comes to the content that will make sense to your customers… that’s a little more difficult.

Making sense to customers

Trustworthy marketing content is hard to come by. Technical end users know it when a marketer isn’t familiar with their field; email and blog content looks generic to them, and jargon seems to be used for its own sake.

The result is a cheap-looking effort to win sales. Indeed, as Ad Age points out:

Ninety-three percent of marketers reported connecting content with products and services and a majority (75%) said content should frequently mention products.

A bulk of their audience, however, spits that out: 60% of survey respondents claimed they turn down content that sounds like a sales pitch. Instead, three-fourths of respondents said they look to content for insights or ideas related to business.

Prospective customers aren’t reassured that your company necessarily understands their needs, and indeed, if all that matters to you is the sale (not how they feel about your product and company), they’re probably right.

Rather than leave the door open to a competitor that does make prospects feel considered and respected, then, it’s on you to start with marketing that sends the right message, in the right language, at the right time.

Making marketing trustworthy

Effective marketing that’s trustworthy requires at least one marketer on your team who can understand the legal, policy, and other frameworks in which customers will use your product or service.

That person should also have a curious mind. This is necessary to work with both customers and your company’s subject matter experts to ask the right questions about your industry’s current events and historical context.

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To accomplish this, it helps if this marketer has experience with journalism. The ability to conduct an interview is a must, as is the ability to fit interview responses into a story. It’s a plus if the marketer has worked in tech journalism or has other proven experience in simplifying complex topics.

Finally, this marketer must be able to communicate results to the rest of the team in a clear, understandable way. Whether that’s through creative briefs that help writers and designers deliver a cohesive piece of communication, or a deliverable in itself — a white paper or blog or case study — it should demonstrate that concern for customer needs.

Spending valuable time and money trying to educate marketers on your industry risks that they still won’t absorb it to the extent they need to effectively reach your customers. Instead, seek out marketers who already fluently “speak tech” — in the dialect of customers you want to reach — so you can hit the ground running.

Need a marketer who understands the ins and outs of DF/IR? Give me a shout!

photo credit: FutUndBeidl Targets via photopin (license)

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