This month we launch our tech series designed to offer advice and direction to the multitude of techpreneurs who are innovating, conceptualising, launching and scaling their way through the pandemic.
We will look at the life cycle of a technology-led business from start-up to scale up and beyond with advice on how to navigate the investment rounds from a marketing perspective; attract the right people when hiring; and reaching customers or clients from MVP and trial through to launch.
In this first piece we look at the basics. Even if you are an established business it doesn’t mean you have had a chance to get all your marketing and communications ducks in a row. Here are a few hints and tips on where to start or review what you’ve already been doing:
Every company has a target audience, a set of ideal clients or personas of people most likely to engage with, advocate or crucially, buy from you. Somewhat surprisingly it’s easy to get this wrong. Basing audience profiles on assumptions is a big no-no in this data rich world we now inhabit.
Use facts not assumption to identify your target audiences. There is no excuse for playing the guessing game. Also, be mindful that audiences are people not one trick ponies so make sure you take a holistic view of who you are targeting.
Many start-ups look for innovators and early adopters or people to take part in beta trials of products or services – gather as much feedback as you can during these stages. It will stand you in good stead for the future.
Consider the full journey of your product or service and who it will appeal to. Sociologist Everett M Rogers described five adopter styles in his 1962 book Diffusion of Innovations and these still hold useful today:
- Early Adopters
- Early Majority
- Late Majority
Use all the tools and channels available to you to generate honest, data-informed feedback and insight. Use social channel communities as a means of feedback (not just your friends – you need to go outside of your own community). Track and analyse your website traffic data. Seek feedback from customers/clients and create a vision of who you are trying to reach.
If you are post-launch, watch out for the signs your targeting is off centre: bad reviews, increasing unsubscribes on newsletters; poor response to marketing activity; more visitors to your website but less conversion; spending more on marketing but getting less.
Once you know who you need to speak to, decide what to say. Language, tone, imagery and message are all very important. Again testing is useful pre-launch of any campaign.
Take time to create quality content. While many people like writing, not everyone can craft copy which engages, informs or entertains while simultaneously being SEO friendly (these two skills are not good bedfellows in my opinion and we are hopefully seeing a slight shift away from playing the Google game).
A big one in this section – lose the jargon. So many tech cos claim not to speak in tongues. Yet it’s all too easy to fall into the everyday lingo which your peers can understand.
National newspapers in the UK are written so an average nine-year old can understand the stories. This is a good test for your marketing content.
If your proposition is highly technical that’s fine in the pitch process but don’t alienate potential investors, media or influencers by being too technical across all marketing channels.
Don’t forget to keep your purpose at the heart of your marketing. Any activity should be congruent with the business model and its commercial objectives.
Be cautious when it comes to stunts, throwaway, flippant ideas which don’t align with your brand or business. We can all afford to be fickle if we don’t like the values of the brands or businesses we follow and engage with. It’s a buyers’ market for many. You must be true to your vision and above all, consistent.
Audiences like to know the ‘why’. Why do you exist; why do you sell the products or offer the service you do. For more on this topic the well-known Simon Sinek is a good starting point, visit his five-minute ‘What is your why’ on YouTube for a quick run-down.
Okay, so you have the who, the what, the why. Don’t mess it all up by getting your timing wrong.
Again, data is your friend here and timing is everything in our fast world where we have the attention span of a goldfish (apparently). And where we are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages every day, on every channel – it’s estimated to be in the region of exposure to 5,000 ads per day in the UK.
Keep an eye on what competitors are doing and also bear in mind what else you have on in the business – launching a new marketing initiative in the week you are closing an investment round might not be a good idea. Marketing activity should add value to the business and always be aligned to the business plan.
Each of the social networks offer guidance on posting times and there is a proliferation of information on this at the click of a button.
It’s not just time of day or what else you have on in the business that matters, think of the seasons, high days and holidays and put yourself again in the mind of your audience. Use insight from previous activity if you have done any to inform what you might need to change.
Your chosen marketing channel is vital, the how you communicate should be properly planned and targets set for the response you need to judge your campaign or activity a success.
Data is important here again, but not in isolation. There will be intangible metrics which should be captured in refining your plans. How are you going to measure word-of-mouth if that’s important to you? If advocacy is central to your plans have you thoroughly briefed and checked out your chosen advocates? Can you incorporate tracking and measurement which captures anecdotal successes alongside the hard stats?
How you decide on your marketing spend can also be a part of ‘how’. What do you need to spend to get the response you need – and when is that too much? It’s not an exact science but you can employ some metrics to give you the confidence in your marketing. Consider cost per acquisition for lead generation campaigns; if your objective is hiring consider direct costs such as posting on job boards or advertising alongside your marketing budget.
Finally, the best piece of advice is to try. Get out there and experiment. As long as you review and refine your activity and have put in place robust success markers you won’t go far wrong. Your marketing, as your business, will evolve over time.
We’ll be publishing a new article in the series every couple of weeks so check back for more with a webinar planned for later this year. In the meantime if you would like more information on any of these topics please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with Joanna Randall.