Demystifying Tech Storytelling: No One Wants to Hear About Your Backend
BY Bill Conn
September 21, 2018

You know what gets tech marketers really excited? Telling people in detail about the latest enhancement to their Whatever-as-a-Service platform that increases scalability and extensibility by 4 percent. Plus, the latest integration with Microsoft and the rollout of version 3.2 of their software. And bug fixes…don’t forget bug fixes.

Spoiler alert: No one wants to hear about those things.

Well, not NO one. There will be engineers and people using your product who care. But if you’re really trying to tell a story that will make people sit up and take notice, throwing the tech-spec kitchen sink at them is not the way to go.

Just like any good story, the kind of brand storytelling we should be working toward in the tech space is a narrative that connects your brand to customers, with a focus on linking what you stand for to the values you share with your customers. It’s the why. The kitchen sink stuff is the how and the what.

On Compliance, Airplanes and Runways

We have a tech client that inherently gets the value of good storytelling. It’s a good thing, since they’re in a space—governance, risk and compliance—that would make most of the general public’s eyes glaze over.

Case in point: We were working with them to tell a story around GDPR and how they help. If you’re not familiar with it, GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation—a law in Europe that requires companies to protect their customer data and report on breaches in some very specific ways. If they don’t comply, they face the possibility of catastrophic fines.

So, it’s a big deal.

But to those of us who don’t live and breathe it every day, it’s just another acronym that we may have heard and sorta-kinda understand.

I asked my client to tell me more about GDPR and some of the issues around it. He said:

“The GDPR deadline is here, but there’s so much about the law that isn’t defined yet. Complying with GDPR is like trying to get an airplane to take off on a runway that isn’t built yet.”

Wow. Powerful visual. And I asked him what his company’s role was in the whole situation:

“Our platform keeps the plane from crashing by helping you figure out how ready you are.”

From there, we extrapolated their larger story, not just about GDPR and compliance, but how they help organizations understand in the simplest terms their risks and the areas where they’re most vulnerable. And it’s working in all the ways you’d want it to: more leads of better quality, analysts get what they’re doing and customers renew.

Who Are You Really Marketing to Anyway?

The crux of telling a good story about a technology company is knowing who your audience is. I write the previous sentence knowing it’s not a profound statement, but many tech marketers make the wrong assumptions about who they’re marketing to.

If it’s a current customer, you may be reaching a lot of engineers and tech folks who care about the details.

However, a prospect or cold lead is different. As is the case with most of the tech clients we work with, the decision maker who pulls the trigger on a purchase is decidedly non-technical.

They may sit in a hybrid role that spans the space between technology and the business. Think of someone like a CIO or a CMO who knows about general technology trends and has enough experience to dive into tech a bit, but has likely not written a line of code in their life (or at least in very many years).

They need to hear a story about the problem and how you solve it. If that story resonates, then they’ll read your case studies and product sheets and take a closer look at your technology.

Where We Go From Here

Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 Technology Content Marketing Survey shows that 78 percent of tech marketers are prioritizing providing the right content to the right person at the right time. In that same survey, just under 70 percent rated their content marketing efforts somewhere between a failure and moderately successfully.

There’s still work to be done.

Our collective next step as tech marketers is to evolve from thinking only of “content”—assets we produce to push people from one point in the customer journey to the next—and start thinking about telling better stories.

Ready to start telling better stories? Let’s chat.

Let’s talk about growing your company.

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