Finding stories in your data – what tech companies need to know about marketing

“We remember stories, not techie facts.” Just six words but so very true.

The statement was made by Ruth Smith, founder of Sustainable Results Lab, at an event on emerging green tech put on by the Future Economy Network. She was talking about the growing importance of content at every stage of the customer journey, especially in the tech space.

Ruth’s words sum up really succinctly what so many tech companies – and, in fact, many businesses full stop – struggle to get to grips with.

Because while you may care very deeply about the facts and features of your product or service offering, there’s a really good chance your customers and clients don’t. And while you might find what you do quite straightforward, your audience is probably a little (or a lot) confused.

Here’s how to start thinking about your marketing and communications in a way that will actually engage people and help them move one step further down the buyer journey towards ultimately doing business with you.

Features vs benefits

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. There’s no point endlessly listing the features of your product or service unless you can somehow relate those things to the benefits they’ll deliver to your users.

You may well be early adopters of agile workflows, for example, but your client wants to know what that means to them. And not just the practicalities i.e. that they’ll have the chance to check in with you on a regular basis as their app development project progresses.

What does that mean to them on a deeper level? It means they’ll have more control over the finished product, that you’ll more quickly reach an outcome they’re happy with, that they won’t waste time and money going down a path that’s ultimately not right for them.

TRY IT NOW: Write down why people should buy your product or engage your services. Now ask, “So what?” and write down a fresh answer. Keep going until you reach something that will really engage with people.

What’s the message?

A lot of the time we produce copy in the hope that people will pore over every carefully chosen word, fully understanding every last nuance we’ve imbued it with. Sadly, that’s just not going to happen. 

As we discussed in this blog post on the science of reading and why it matters to marketers, the truth is that we’ve become scanners. Both in print but particularly online, our eyes dart about until we light on something engaging and then just as quickly flit away if we’re not satisfied with what we find.

That’s why messaging is so important. Your core message is the one thing you want the most fickle of scanners to take away from your website, your blog post, your flyer, your Facebook ad.

If someone literally glances at what you’ve written, will they still get the gist? In order to make sure of that, you first have to know what the gist is and then you have to communicate it really simply. And yes, that is as difficult as it sounds!

TRY IT NOW: Find someone who has never looked at your website. Give them 10 seconds to scan the homepage. Ask them what they think you do, or what your USP is, or what sort of clients you work with.

Finding stories in your data

Everyone loves a bit of data these days. We may be a copywriting agency but we still value understanding everything from the conversion rates of the quotes we send out to the ratio of people visiting our website from social media vs search. And that’s just the simple stuff.

Every business has data and tech companies are naturally geared to collecting, sorting and interpreting it. But have you thought about looking at it through the lens of your customers, clients and marketing audience?

No matter who you’re trying to do business with, you’re ultimately dealing with people. And people are inherently drawn to stories – we’ve known this instinctively since we were living in caves. So what stories can you draw out of your data?

At one point some years ago we had a dig around in our blog analytics and realised that our visitor numbers spike every Wednesday – the day we publish our blog. That simple graphical representation of our web traffic became the strapline of a very successful campaign we ran: “Why blogging should be the heartbeat of your content marketing strategy.”

TRY IT NOW: Pick one of the data sources in your business and spend time going through it, looking for patterns. Imagine you’re one of your ideal clients and think, “What would I be interested in?”

If you need more help

Having worked with a number of tech companies over the years, we understand that if you yourself are a technical rather than a creative type, you may well be panicking right now. Don’t.

First, it is 100% possible to learn how to think like a marketer, it just takes a bit of practice. Our Level Up Your Business Blog course is a great place to start, if we do say so ourselves. We tackle everything from understanding your audience to coming up with ideas and tackling writer’s block.

But if you’re convinced that marketing is not for you personally, then why not consider getting some help? The combination of your technical expertise and the creativity and insights of a professional copywriter are a match made in heaven.

If you’re not sure where to get started, you need our free guide to choosing the right blogging service. Heads up, it’s a beast at 27 pages but we guarantee it’s worth the time. Don’t hire a copywriter before you’ve read it.

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