The importance of relaying the business value in technology
It’s an exciting time to be a technology writer—and to be working with clients who are at the forefront of the technology they’re offering. Having the opportunity to help our clients tell their stories in meaningful ways is a privilege—and a challenge. That’s because marketing-focused technology content has shifted in recent years. It wasn’t always so, but today’s businesses recognize technology as a change agent, and not just a necessary cost of business.
And as a marketing writer, the hard part at times is helping clients tell the story of a particular technology in a way that‘s compelling, informative and practical. A good example of this is blockchain. A Google search on blockchain currently offers 53+ million returns. How do you help your audience filter out the noise?
To be effective, technology marketing has moved from presenting a breathless, 360-degree view of everything a product or service can do, including all the “speeds and feeds,” to homing in on the business value that customers can realize—because customers are buying technology to solve a business problem:
- They’re spending too much time, money, or both in their current IT environment.
- They’re putting their business at risk by not closing security holes.
- They’re facing massive fines because they’re staring down a new regulatory deadline—and are not yet compliant.
- They need to enter a new market to stay competitive, but they don’t have the tools to do so.
Technology customers may not need to know in detail everything that a product or service offers. Yes, the details matter, but the central question is always “How is it going to solve my problem?” To get to that level of business-value specificity, we employ a multifaceted approach.
Research. We soak up every bit of background information that our clients can supply, to understand not only the technology, but also how they want to tell the story. And we delve into information that’s out in the wild—news articles, competitors’ marketing, analyst reports—to understand and explain the business applications.
Interviews. Ideally, there’s a conversation with at least one (if not more) subject matter experts, in which we ask them to tell the story they want to tell, in their own words. There’s something transformative that happens when a client gives us real-world examples of how their solution can solve real-world problems. We also ask them to help us pinpoint “the important stuff.” We ask questions like “Which of these materials you’ve provided best support your message?” and “What do you want an interested reader to do next?” Another facet of both research and interviewing is…
Story evolution. It’s rare that clients have never published any content about the technology they’re selling. More likely is that the technology itself, or how they want to frame it, has evolved. Product updates may happen annually, or even more frequently, and new applications or business models emerge. So we put newly created content in context: The question becomes, what are we saying now about how the technology can meaningfully impact businesses—and how is that different from how it’s been said before?
With that approach in mind, it’s suddenly a lot easier to see where a new technology fits in—and rises above the noise.