When Techies Do Marketing

One of things that never fails to amuse me is coming across a website which was written by a techie – either an engineer, or buzzword-addicted consultant, or – worst-case scenario – an engineer/programmer/consultant.

Let’s say you’re a potential customer – you’re looking for help with something, and you come across a website (or other marketing collateral) with this kind of copy:

(_____) platform takes enterprise listening to the next – actionable – level. We operate in the Web 3.0 world where every bit of unstructured data gets converted into actionable insights. Our state of the art RDFa enabled architecture brings out the meaning from unstructured data of Social Media, Web and internal data sources ( call center notes, CRM notes, documents etc)…In essense (sp) (_______) creates the 4th dimension to the traditional 360 degree view…

Now, there is a place for this kind of technical explanation. That’s called a white paper. But marketing on the web and elsewhere, you have only a few seconds to get my attention with a straightforward explanation that clearly communicates the What’s In It For Me.

It’s the incredibly rare technical designer who can also create effective marketing. The mindset of the technical person is complexity and details. The mindset of the effective marketer is simplicity and value.

It’s amazing how many tech companies will invest a massive amount of money to come up with a brilliant solution, then assume that they’re communicating to people just like them – people whose pulses race to hear about RDFa enabled architecture. And I’ve seen many potentially valuable consultants who hang out a shingle but don’t have a clear, compelling message on it.

You have to wonder how much money gets left on the table – the opportunity cost of an unfocused message.

What’s the value? What’s the unique differentiator? What’s your company story? What can you communicate in 10 seconds that should make me want to find out more, and reach out to you?

I have worked with some immensely talented tech folks, and have enormous respect for their work. But when it’s time to go to market, please – get some creative minds to help craft the message. Or you may end up with Blue Spoon Syndrome.


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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

12 Responses to When Techies Do Marketing

  1. Cynthia Siemens says:

    Seen this many times myself, and, fortunately, I enjoy working with techies (patent-holders, algorithm-inventors, and the like) and have always tried to employ a gentle way of honoring their ingenuity while leading them into agreement on copy that communicates benefits in a way their audiences can understand. Harder at some times than others…

  2. Steve,

    Love this post since I’m a recovering engineer now doing marketing.
    I find it really scary that I may only have 10 seconds to grab a reader’s attention. Yikes!


  3. Keith Cox says:

    As I read this post, I was ruminating on writing the same article featuring marketing materials written by lawyers and accountants . . . Something like: “Roffie Corp, a Delaware limited action corporation announces its new product, Spot Clear(TM), a cleaning solution that may clean bird excrement and excrement-like substances off of acrylic-painted surfaces, such as some automotive vehicles, in some circumstances. Your money back if you’re not satisfied (requires engineering analysis specifying failure mode).

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  5. Pete says:

    Huh? That’s not a technical explanation. As a technical person I’d consider that poorly-done marketing. Clearly as a marketer you consider it (poorly-done?) technical. Both of us agree that it’s rubbish 🙂

    Unfortunately we see far too much of it. I usually have to resort to Wikipedia to get a concise explanation of what any given “enterprise technology” product actually does.


  6. Michael Turner says:

    “Blue Spoon Syndrome” … what the …? O. M. G. That photo – it would be perfect if Blue Spoon’s specialty were public-relations damage control for pharma firm that turn out to be selling placebos, if not poison. And the writing! It melts in your mouth like cotton candy, but unfortunately tasting like cotton, not candy, as it melts. If I wanted that, I could suck on a collar-tip.

  7. TechieChef says:

    I am a techie trying to market for my own food website ( http://www.chefDeHome.com ) these days. Reading this post felt it so applicable to me “Techie Do Marketing”…. but sometime you have too enough being techi, its time to show word what you capable of… for sure it a learning curve

  8. Naima says:

    I giggled my way through this article in scary recognition 🙂

    Simply brilliant and spot on.

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