What Social Distancing Teaches B2B Tech Companies…It’s Not What You Think
This isn’t another work from home article. States and counties across the nation are ordering residents to “shelter in place” or “stay at home” in an effort to stifle the spread of COVID-19. How did it get this bad? Blame social distancing. I’ll admit, prior to the madness of COVID-19, I hadn’t heard of the term “social distancing.” It only entered my orbit when my husband informed me that his office was preparing to social distance. From my vantagepoint on my marketing high-horse, I found the unfamiliar term laughable. Chalking up the now ubiquitous words as internal communication jargon at its worst. When in reality, it had come from public health officials, not an overzealous communicator. When Buzzwords Fail Social distancing as a term was doomed to fail from day one. It was never specific or familiar enough to galvanize change to protect our society. Now that time has elapsed and the virus has spread, many leaders have shifted to using the term “physical distancing” to clarify their orders. Unfortunately, it’s too little, too late. We’re already seeing the effects of poor communication, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find a silver lining. What Does It All Mean for B2B Tech Companies? For B2B tech companies, the lessons of social distancing come at the perfect time. In a community overrun by buzzwords like artificial intelligence and Internet of Things, marketing copy is making our customers’ and prospects’ eyes glaze over--and keeping businesses from reaching their full potentials. Well-meaning people write content stuffed with buzzwords because it is perceived as how technology companies communicate. Often citing that customers “want to see the words artificial intelligence.” And maybe a little of that is true, but even more, they want to know what difference your product or service will make on their businesses. Take for example this actual website banner copy (company name removed): “Delivering Customer-Focused Results Through Technology Innovation [Company] is a leading communications solutions provider focused on identifying the specialized needs of our customers to deliver advanced technology solutions that produce positive business outcomes.” There are 32 words on that banner, but the content says almost nothing. What are the results? And, what technology do they even deliver? As a customer, if you landed on this website, what would you do? Would it excite you to learn more or make you feel at ease that you found a competent company to help? Probably not. You would be among the visitors that contribute to their high bounce rate. Similarly to the ineffective term “social distancing ,” the company hasn’t supplied the language necessary to move people through the desired actions. In this case, it would be to continue further into the website and sales funnel. Save Your Marketing Copy Before It’s Too Late What would have happened if our leaders communicated the concept of social distancing in a manner that was specific and actionable—would we be in a different situation? Perhaps. But now all we can do is make the best of a bad situation. And that applies to B2B marketing as well. Many companies are having to revisit 2020 marketing plans to eliminate in-person events and shift budgets. As those conversations are underway, content is one area that deserves investment and course correction before it’s too late. To help guide you, begin with these tips: · Don’t rely on technical terms because it doesn’t always translate to broader audiences. · If you need to use a buzzword, be sure to expand on exactly what the term means in practice (show, don’t tell). · Even if everyone else is using the term, you don’t have to be the next “me too.” Someone had to be the first person to use the phrase “physical distancing.” It wasn’t just another buzzword, but instead, it was an improvement on the status quo. Perspective is everything. Maybe you already knew that you shouldn’t be using buzzwords or you had planned on creating marketing content specific to your various audiences. Thanks to social distancing you now know the importance of acting on those thoughts and plans as you witness the effects of vague language all from the comfort of your own home.
Make Money and a Difference With These 5 Cybersecurity Content Marketing Tips
In high school, what was your answer when someone asked about your career aspirations? I can still feel the lump that would swell in my throat during my formative years—what would I do with my life? Even more vivid is the memory of clicking through a career questionnaire. With every dip of my finger, I moved closer to my fate. This “definitive” test posed questions like, Are you more concerned with making money or making a difference? Why not both? I imagine the hardworking people behind today’s cybersecurity startups share my sentiment. Why not both? For starters, it’s not achievable if your company doesn’t exist. The onslaught of cyberattacks has spurred a fast-growing market, but with too many companies on the losing side. It’s not that we don’t need the technology—quite the opposite. Attacks are rapidly evolving and outpacing deployed security. Startups are dying out, in part, because their message isn’t working. Want to be successful? Break through the noise. If your solution can do it for analysts’ alert fatigue, you can do it for your company with these tips: 1. Get a Messaging Framework Repeat after me: content marketing is a strategic effort. When you enter the marketing/communications world, it can seem like all fluff. I assure you, it’s a whole lot more calculated than it appears on the surface. Breaking through the noise requires a messaging framework that defines a cohesive, compelling, and strategically-crafted story. 2. Stop Focusing on the Headlines Sure, big breaches create lots of buzz…then what? People move on. When you want to make the most of your content marketing, you need to focus on creating evergreen content that attracts prospects before, during, and after breaches. 3. Work Smarter, Not Harder So cliché, right? But seriously, if you have a piece of content that performs well—use it, reuse it, and repurpose it. Can that white paper be an infographic, a blog series, a webinar? If people crave that content, give them more. 4. Do the ‘Mom’ Test If your mom is anything like mine, she has no idea what you do. (For the record, it goes both ways. My mom is a CPA and you’d never want to hire me to do your books) There’s a good chance a technical person (or another highly-educated person) is responsible for buying your cybersecurity product or service, but that doesn’t mean they want to sift through complex marketing copy. Read what you’re putting out to the world—would your mom understand what you are saying? If the answer is no, you need to clarify your messaging. People are busy and our brains don’t want to work hard when processing information. 5. Remember the True Hero in the Story Cybersecurity marketing is swollen with scare tactics that frames the technology as the hero. This could be the biggest mistake of all. The true heroes are your customers and prospects, and it should be all about them. Technology is interesting, but satisfying a pain point is what closes the deal. It seems basic, but it’s the most common mistake. The cybersecurity market isn’t getting easier as prospects of fetching a good price in an initial IPO or being the next big acquisition fade. Say good-bye to the jargon-stuffed, crappy FUD marketing messaging of yesterday, or there might not be a tomorrow. Oh yeah, in case you were curious, the answer to my career test: COMMUNICATIONS.