Marketers of innovative companies are in a unique balancing act of highlighting the value of their technology to their target market, while also making it digestible and relevant. They are faced with conveying the current, future and potential impact all at once to illustrate value. It’s a complicated set of frameworks to merge. By its very nature, innovation is relentlessly uneven and undulating.
Meanwhile, on the frontlines of markets, it’s clear there are many assumptions about what technology can do. In our work as a PR firm, it is not uncommon for us to learn that entire categories of technology are misunderstood by their most important markets. Often, the layers of technology needed to enable an ecosystem of technology and adoption is in emerging stages or has hurdles to overcome to live up to the vision.
It is more important than ever that marketers leverage nuanced and thoughtful communication strategies to contextualize and translate the impact of their technologies on specific markets, society, policy and economies.
The risk is real. Mischaracterizations can confuse targeted markets and buyers, delaying or disrupting adoption and chipping away at the very credibility of the company. On top of that, perpetuated misunderstandings create a painfully distracting cycle in the media.
What can marketers do to maximize understanding and discourage misalignment?
- Technology needs great messaging. Often, messaging on the impact and structure of a technology takes on a life of its own and is incrementally evolving. This incremental messaging can be less concise or applicable. Also, brand messaging can start to shape the narrative. We recommend separating brand messaging from technology messaging in a framework that avoids spinning it all together. Given the likely crossovers and incremental shifts within a company, anthonyBarnum recommends re-evaluating technology messaging in a true deductive reasoning breakdown on at least a yearly basis. It’s essential to be consistent and make sure all channels are in sync. Messaging isn’t a “nice to have” – it must be strong and precise to optimize retention by targeted audiences.
- Be bold but stay in context. Marketers have to be bold about the totality of the vision of the technology but also need to message through the ecosystem to ensure that boldness is balanced with context of where the technology currently fits and where it’s currently adoptable. Third-party research resources, either published independently or commissioned, can help add that context. Positioning innovation in data brings it to life for all audiences and can spur epiphany moments in markets. When inefficiencies are spelled out accurately and clearly, markets notice. The extra work to build data can go a long way in capturing interest from stakeholders.
- Establish collaborative relationships with reporters. Reporters rarely see a press release and understand it off the bat—no one does. It’s important to engage in briefings and deep dive with reporters on the context of the technology or innovation. Deeper briefings where a company serves as a resource to contextualize an ecosystem of technology can help minimize inaccurate understandings. Innovation reporters are often skeptical after a myriad of shiny-new-object technologies – they need an authentic, informative conversation about the current viability and future potential of technologies.
It’s not going to get easier. Technology is rapidly advancing and disrupting market ecosystems. There isn’t a quick gimmick to communicating complex narratives. However, disruptive technology marketers gain a lot with a premeditated focus on consistency in message, accuracy and authentic depth.