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Messaging in technology marketing: 4 golden rules

Rule 1 - make it clear what you do

We look at a lot of websites and collateral and it is astonishing how difficult it can be to determine what a company actually does. Of course, there are a number of common problems that we encounter all the time. The first is the primary audience for the messages. Who do you want to speak to? Is it a technical audience or a business audience? Nowadays, most companies want to address several audiences at once and this makes matters more difficult.

Rule 2 - speak the language of your audience

The second is, of course, the language that people use. While it's inevitable that authors use words that are familiar to insiders in their industry niche, too much of this limits the number of people who can understand the key message and proposition.

Another common issue is the gap between the internal perception of a company and the external. What you might think you are good at, or "about", may not be the same as how potential customers perceive you.

Rule 3 - don't overcomplicate

Researching exhibitors in preparation for our meetings at TMW was revealing. We found a reliance on insider terms that made the fundamental messages confusing or obscure. But, when we spoke to companies in briefings or in meetings, all (generally) became clear. Our conclusion? People are better at explaining what they do than their websites would suggest. The translation of a verbal message to a clear textual presentation is clearly a challenge. But, it's one that cannot be avoided: if there is a significant disconnect between what you present on your website and what you say in meetings, it can only make life difficult.

As a footnote to this, it's worth noting that many smaller companies paid attention to this - reflecting their need to shout louder to be heard. Whereas, many larger and more successful companies often exhibited more confusion in their messages, perhaps illustrating how it's possible to lose touch with fundamental propositions through time.

Rule 4 - listen to your customers

We continually revisit messages with our customers, making sure that they accurately reflect their intentions and what resonates with their customers and prospects. This process is essential and it's also essential to ensure that the message remains visible even as more and more content is accumulated on a website. While new and refreshed content is vital, it must not create noise to occlude core propositions. It has to be complementary. It's not easy to get right, but well worth continuous investment.

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