Every holiday season, I repeatedly witness a phenomenon that we can all relate to. Every family has at least one person who insists on monopolizing the conversation, regaling us with lengthy accounts of bygone days. What I observed is that it isn’t so much the stories are bad, they are just badly told. And that is often the case with technical marketing materials. If you can’t tell a compelling story, nobody is going to listen.
Here are several rules to help you simplify your technical marketing, which I wrote on a napkin while my aunt Eunice was talking about the line at the post office.
- Get to the point
- Don’t get lost in the details
- Timing is everything
- Every story needs a good ending
Keep these simple principles in mind when you’re outlining any technical communication and you might notice a higher level of engagement, not to mention a marked decrease in the number of times people yawn and look at their watch.
Get to the point
Every story should have a reason to be told. This is where your story begins. If your product features a completely new design, that’s great but it isn’t a reason to talk about it. A good place to start is with the question “what problem does this solve for my customer?” Once you have a clear understanding of that point the rest of your narrative will be built around this organizing principle, or what I refer to as the point.
Don’t get lost in the details
It is easy to get too close to your product or service. I get it, you’ve spent months, or even years developing and perfecting it. Everything is important, but everything isn’t equally important at the same time. Refer back to the point of your message. Does the detail help your customer understand why they should care? There is a place for discussing the details, but often that is best saved for content used further down the sales funnel. This is an approach automotive brands know well. They dazzle us with images of cars handling hairpin turns on scenic country roads long before they tell us about heated seats or the ergonomic dash.
Timing is everything
Did you know that most security alarms are sold after a break-in? Prior to that, people are less receptive to the value of an alarm. It is simple human nature. Keep this in mind when you’re introducing your message. Ask yourself if there is a time that your target audience is going to be more receptive to your message. And, as I mentioned above, know which message to present at which time. Even B2B customers buy based on emotion and justify the purchase rationally. Time the detailed messages for the moment when your customer is building the argument for including the line item in next year’s budget.
Every story needs a good ending
This is often the most challenging part of campaign planning since good campaigns can be viewed as a collection of stories about your product. The end of each one must lead your audience closer to purchase. In complex product categories, the sales cycle is lengthy so the campaign needs to be divided into shorter, easily digested messages. Each case is different, but as you develop the materials for your marketing campaign, always keep in mind the next step you want your customer to take.
Here’s an example of how our agency put all of these principles to use for a recent campaign for Häfele Hardware. Häfele had a new line of LED lighting products it wanted to introduce to Wood-Mode dealers.
We developed a two-part marketing narrative. First, we showed the dealers a world of design possibilities with an extensive book of LED lighting applications and included just enough detail to get dealers comfortable with the process without scaring them away. Once demand was established, we offered a comprehensive design guide that walked the designer through the variables and ultimately the steps to order the correct parts. The result was a 30% increase in sales. (Click here to access the full case studies)
Choose the right partners
Be sure to work with a marketing agency that understands how to simplify your complex marketing messages to create compelling campaigns. At Ten Pound Hammer, we start by learning as much as we can about your product, so we can push beyond the surface. It’s the kind of thing we do every day. We’d be happy to walk you through our process to show you how we can help you. Because, of course, that would be the perfect end of this particular story.
Ten Pound Hammer is a B2B marketing agency located in North Carolina. You can speak to one of our B2B marketing experts by calling 336.275.0974 or email [email protected]