In Need of a Message Makeover?

Organizations ‑ especially tech companies ‑ often encounter difficulty in describing product/services offerings to audiences in a clear manner. Take the cloud, a concept subject to a long stream of muddled messaging.

Heavyweights like Google, Apple and Microsoft have spent a fortune to unveil their cloud-based products to the consumer market. But try asking potential customers what the cloud is and you’ll often get blank stares. As Gartner analyst David Smith puts it: “The whole idea from a consumer perspective is … it’s supposed to be a magical cloud in the sky.”

Actually, the cloud isn’t magical at all. It’s a natural step in digital evolution: You take “stuff” from your computer files and put it on the Internet.

So why all the mysticism? Early advertising efforts cast impressions of a very cloudy cloud indeed: I was introduced to the term in 2010, with those “To the Cloud!” commercials for Microsoft. While entertaining, the spots were also confusing. Especially to anyone who has no idea of what the cloud is. Amusing audiences is a good thing. But not when you fail to simply and clearly define the dominant term of your campaign.

In recent months, Apple has improved efforts here with their no-nonsense iCloud commercials. Without a single, spoken word, images come together to depict what the cloud is, and what it’s capable of.

Here at our hi tech PR agency, we’re always focusing upon a full service communications strategy to advance the conversation and change the perspective of a target audience. When the client has a product with a story to tell in the form of content marketing, we take on the task of demystifying that product and defining to users why they should buy in. Here are some steps we take to get there:

Clarity is king.Never assume anything. It’s not a given that the crowd knows every tech term you’re tossing out there. This goes for tech audiences too, which may include CIOs who prefer a high-level overview, one that illustrates a concrete experience to define the term and its significance. Watch out for jargon too. Often, communications professionals slip into “autopilot” mode and drop buzzwords en masse because, frankly, it’s easier on the brain to write and talk that way. At our agency, we take a more disciplined approach, so readers won’t “zone out” on jargon-loaded content, therefore tuning out the client’s message.

Drop the acronyms. You’re delivering a message, not a bowl of “alphabet soup.” Spell out everything and include a tidy description. Presenting a page or screen full of undefined letters in CAPS gives audiences an excuse to give up.

Demystify the solution. Ultimately, all content marketing tech should be broken down into minimalist statements that define what it is. Two questions to ask are, “What does it do?” and “Why is that important?” After all, users/companies/government organizations buy tech because it’s supposed to improve their lives. This value must be described and communicated. Otherwise, you’re simply promoting an intangible concept.

Demonstrate distinction. At our agency, we’re constantly challenged to establish a unique voice for our clients in a very crowded field of competitors. If you can’t determine and communicate a client solution’s unique value, you’ve given audiences no reason to buy in. So take advantage of any available supportive statistics, reports, case studies and/or anecdotes. Given the growing user consumerization of tech (not to mention the intense influence of social media when it comes to a company’s reputation), audiences are asking companies to “prove it” these days.

In the end, you’ll do your tech company a favor by carefully identifying your audience, and clearly stating the value your solution will bring to them. Once you’ve accomplished this, you’re well on your way to the delivery of an effective – and hopefully lucrative – content marketing message. At W2 Communications, we can help you get there, so feel free to call us.

Tiffany Peng is an account coordinator at W2 Communications.