Tech marketing: How to make it emotional

By Michael Van Ausdeln

15 October 2020

How to create emotional tech marketing

For as advanced as the tech world is becoming, tech marketing remains in the Stone Age. Since the unveiling of Apple’s iPhone more than 13 years ago, the industry has exploded. Both on the consumer end and B2B.

But not on the marketing end of things.

I never would have imagined we’d have come so far so fast with the technology itself. We carry a computer in our pocket. Internet speeds are so fast and robust, we take for granted the beautiful pictures we stream across our television screens.

tech marketing​And basically everything businesses do sports some automation component, unthinkable just a decade ago. Most of those in tech are smart cookies. Geniuses even.

But most tech marketing lacks that innovation.

Other than Apple, tech companies still focus on product benefits. What’s inside that tech. How it’s made. What technological advance it represents.

But nothing about who the customer is when they use a tech brand. Little definition, and no emotion.

Don’t do the expected

Think about this. If you are in tech marketing – and, for example, you’re marketing a software product, how much of your messaging is consumed by the nuts and bolts of what you do? Is it always led by a benefit, such as saving time or doing things more efficiently?

If the answer is yes to any of those questions, you have problems creating preference for your brand. Because even B2B customers licensing software choose based on emotion. They just backfill that emotional choice with rational reasons. Affirmation, after all, is what all tech buyers seek. Because they don’t really know what they’re getting. Nor do they really care to know more.

Tech marketing isn’t the only category featuring this failing, of course. There are other examples. Banks always seem the worst. Just check out Capital One’s coffee shop TV ad that “reimagines banking.”

Oh, I see. The new world of banking is a coffee shop. Therefore, the brand face of the customer choosing Capital One for that reason is a dope.

”So when Apple announced itself to the world in the famous 1984 Super Bowl ad, it wasn’t about the tech. It was about a revolution.”

Tech marketing can create preference

But tech marketing isn’t much better. Too many figure their target audience is just like them. That is, they are fascinated by the technological achievements and benefits. That they’ll be wowed by how something is made or what benefit it produces. Just like the engineers do.

And frankly, knowing and working with tech companies, the engineers – as brilliant as many are – should not be driving your messaging. Marketing is left brain work. Tech engineering is right brain.

I mentioned Apple earlier. The world’s most cash rich company learned from co-founder Steve Jobs that people choose based on emotion. Jobs himself wasn’t an engineer. He was a marketer, who understood human behavior.

So when Apple announced itself to the world in the famous 1984 Super Bowl ad, it wasn’t about the tech. It was about a revolution. “Think Different” became its anthem. And now people wait in line for the newest iPhone, whether it’s the best on the market or not.

Don’t be like everyone else

But that’s the only example in tech marketing like that. Most follow the IBM model. Which only focuses on product benefits. That once made sense, at least for IBM. It was first to market for many tech products and, for a brief time, was the default choice for just about everything. Then it became borderline irrelevant.

Even software giant Microsoft struggled with its marketing for a good long time. It once held a reputation as overcomplicating so much of its marketing that it became an inside joke. It has since cleared away much of its clutter.

But let’s look past those tech companies, whose primary focus is on consumers. What about B2B? That’s where you run into brands where the engineers power too much of the marketing thinking.

If you work at a software company, how times have you heard a version of this: “Well, in business to business, it’s about numbers. They decide by spreadsheets.”

Well, that’s simply not true. Now, you’ll hear that from customers, who will mention specs and other data. But they’re just looking for affirmation of what they’ve already chosen (or not chosen).

Your software prospects often start a search by saying, “Make sure you include Company X.” Why that company? Just because of something they heard? Or some feeling they have about that brand? Hoping that the support points for the brand promise allow them to feel at ease with their choice.

”Then, when finding those emotional intensities in your market, get out of your own way. Too often we all confuse ourselves with the target audience. Most tech marketing is the epitome of that.”

Even B2B software customers choose on emotion

But those support points are just that. They aren’t reasons for preference. We as consumers of media, instinctively weed out what doesn’t concern us. We’re bombarded by thousands of messages each day. Whether it’s a logo on a pen or a TV ad. There’s so much of it that we ignore much of it.

Why is that? Because we are only attracted to what is a reflection of ourselves. How many billboards blow right through your mind without sticking. Hundreds, thousands maybe, over the course of a particular time.

However, if one of those billboards features your face, your actual face, you’d notice it so quickly, you’d drive right off the road. So much tech marketing lacks that appeal.

So, how do you get to that point? Where real preference exists? Where Apple stands now?

The process of creating preference

First, know your target audience better than your competition does. That means projectable quantitative research that asks questions beyond the usual attitude and usage study. Research that digs into their precepts, the belief systems that drive choice.

Then, when finding those emotional intensities in your market, get out of your own way. Too often we all confuse ourselves with the target audience. Most tech marketing is the epitome of that. Look dispassionately at the precepts, building a profile of who those people are. What emotional intensity can your brand align with that will make prospects take notice?

Once you start building a theme and the messaging, make sure they are about the target audience. Not you, the company. That way you are sure to steal customers away from your competition.

After all, the only way to grow is to steal market share from the rest. That’s what we do here, and drop me a line so I can show you how we can help.

Otherwise, you might be mired in the usual tech marketing muck. Where your advancements pale into comparison to the actual technology itself.

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