Here’s an obvious statement: Marketing for complicated products is, well, complicated.
It has all the challenges of traditional B2B marketing, and then some. It requires the marketing team to ask themselves:
- How do we market something that a lot of people just don’t understand?
- How do we make a complex topic understandable and engaging?
- How do we differentiate ourselves from the pack without getting too technical?
In this guide, we’re going to walk you through key principles of marketing for AI and tech brands, and how they pair with the standard B2B marketing strategies.
Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- Drop any tech-speak you don’t absolutely need.
- Explain, explain, and explain some more.
- Build a content library focused heavily on education and ROI.
- Push zero-pressure demos.
- Create case studies and request testimonials on an ongoing basis.
- Work with a knowledgeable PR team that can speak to both the technical and functional sides of your AI product.
- Humanize your AI as much as possible.
- Clearly articulate the problem your AI solves.
- Focus on the benefits, not the features.
Here we go!
1. Drop any tech-speak you don’t absolutely need.
The challenge for marketers is how to balance technical information with accessible information in order to provide a full, comprehensive picture of what your AI product does.
The technical info will likely be easy to come by: your product development team will have it in abundance, and if we know product dev teams (we do), then they’ll be eager to share how they achieved what they did with your product, or what updates they’ve just made, etc.
It’s translating that into language that anyone, or at least any one of your target buyer personas, will find interesting and valuable that’s tricky.
To start, a good rule of thumb is to focus on the problem and solution. What problem does your product solve, and how?
Once you’ve got that written down in a concise, clear form, take whatever product descriptions, outlines, and other content you have available and begin stripping out the tech-speak and jargon.
With the problem and solution at the core, start drafting your messaging in as much regular language as possible. You won’t get rid of all of it, and you don’t need to—you just need to ensure that any technical terms you do still have are necessary and valuable to the overall message.
2. Explain, explain, and explain some more.
Unless you’re selling exclusively to other technical personnel, you’ll need descriptions of what your product does and how it works at varying levels of complexity and detail.
Wired’s “5 Levels of Difficulty” video series is a perfect example of this. The series challenges a scientist to explain a complex topic, like machine learning or dimensions, to a child, a teen, a college student, a grad student, and an expert.
Sure, they’re fun and informative videos, but they’re also great lessons in communications. If you replace the “child,” “grad student,” etc. with your own personas—CMO, CTO, program director—you now have a framework within which to craft your individual messages.
Related post: 5 PR Tips to Put Your Tech Company on the Radar
Think of each like an elevator pitch. You want to nail down an explanation of your product geared toward each individual persona that tells them how your product addresses their pain points.
Of course, no matter how good your explanation is, there will be many people who don’t get it the first time. That’s where your content library (see below!) comes in.
3. Build a content library focused heavily on education and ROI.
Content marketing is a pillar of inbound marketing no matter what industry you’re in—and for an industry as varied, forward-thinking, and competitive as the tech industry, it’s even more critical to build a solid and robust collection of content to fuel those marketing efforts.
For any company, customers visit a website because they want to understand what your product does and how it’s better than everyone else’s—no matter whether that product is a scarf or an enterprise-level CRM.
But with the enterprise-level CRM, customers and prospects are going to need a lot more information in order to totally understand your product. They also need to know what it will do for them and their company—in other words, the ROI.
You need to give them that information in an easy-to-digest, valuable, and if possible, enjoyable way—and all before they ask for it.
Here’s how you do that.
The first step in any B2B content marketing strategy should be a content audit. What types of content do you have a lot of, and what types are you lacking in?
(Btw, this applies to any industry!)
For tech and AI companies, visual content is always helpful, especially if you have complex concepts that you need to communicate. Infographics, graphs and charts, webinars, videos, and other types of visual content are essential to building out your content library.
Other types of content that can be helpful for tech and AI prospects are:
- Case studies
- Customer testimonials
- Live Q&As on social media or through a streaming platform
Once you’ve figured out the types of content you need to start creating, it’s time to look at content mapping.
This is a process of mapping your existing content to different stages of the customer journey.
Most brands have tons of content for the first couple of stages—Discovery/Awareness and Consideration—but are sorely lacking in content geared toward customers in the Purchase, Retention, and Advocacy phases.
Tech and AI brands are no exception.
It’s true that prospects need plenty of content before they’ll buy, especially as the average number of interactions it takes to turn a B2B prospect into a customer is increasing—in research performed in 2021, Forrester found that during the pandemic, the number jumped massively, from 17 to 27.
But you want your content to help current customers, too. Support libraries, case studies, use cases, and more niche informational content that explains a core concept at work in your product development or other higher-level ideas are all useful for those at the later stages of the buying journey.
4. Push zero-pressure demos.
In the same way that visual content is particularly important for tech and AI brand marketing, so are demos.
Most customers will, of course, need to see your product at work before they have any interest in going further. So you’ll need a comprehensive, well-produced demo video, as well as—if this works for your product—a more in-depth product demo that users can actually be guided through by sales and interact with on their own.
Once you’ve got a great demo built, create digital marketing campaigns around it. Push it on social media, embed the demo video in your blog posts, add it to your YouTube channel, and do live streams where you walk users through it.
You’ll also want to build a demo-specific landing page that you can direct users to through PPC ads.
Demos can also be a great way to get influencers more interested in your product, which can lead to valuable partnerships down the road.
5. Create case studies and request testimonials
Case studies and testimonials are key in giving customers the information they want before they have to ask.
Related reading: Case Study: Cheetah Digital
For tech products, prospects are going to want as much data as possible, so you’ll need numbers and concrete information to make these effective.
Start by giving some context: what this client does, what problem they needed to solve, and how they implemented your product to solve that problem. Be as specific as possible, and include goals and benchmarks if you can.
Then, depending on what’s relevant for your prospects and customers, you’ll want to detail things like:
- Time to implementation
- Training required
- Results over time
- Whether your product met or exceeded the goals set
Once you have a case study ready to go, share it widely and make it easily available on your website.
6. Work with a knowledgeable PR team that can speak to both the technical and functional sides of your AI product.
Marketing and PR in 2022 are inextricably linked. In order to get the most out of any PR attention, it needs to be worked into marketing campaigns, shared on social media, and incorporated into other owned content (as part of our paid, earned, shared, and owned model—the PESO model).
If you’re outsourcing your PR to an agency, it’s important to find one that can is well-versed in tech and AI marketing.
Spoiler alert: Not every agency is well-suited to this industry!
A PR firm that understands tech will also understand:
- How to communicate key concepts in language suited to different audiences (i.e., a CTO journal and a mainstream Tier One outlet like Forbes)
- Where the people you want to sell to are looking for information
- Trends and current issues in tech reporting, and how your brand can fit into those larger stories
That’s not to mention that they will also have a wide network of tech reporters, product reviewers, and thought leaders that they can tap for your PR outreach.
Finally, any PR agency worth working with in 2022 will know how to amplify your coverage so you get the most attention and value out of every single hit. They’ll also deliver analytics and reporting so you can see clearly how well your outreach is working.
Related post: Everything You Need to Know About Digital PR
7. Humanize your AI as much as possible.
Here’s something that’s very specific to AI. If you’re marketing an AI tool that interacts with customers, not just runs a program in the background, then humanize it as much as you can.
According to data from Digital Wellbeing, customers overwhelmingly want AI they interact with to be humanized, with a voice (female) and a name. That’s why Alexa and Siri were designed the way they were—the more human you can make your AI, the more it will appeal to customers and the more you can effectively market it.
8. Clearly articulate the problem your product solves.
While we touched on this earlier, it bears repeating: make sure prospects know how your product can solve their problem.
There are plenty of amazing tech and AI products out there, but they’re useless to your prospect if they aren’t addressing a pain point. That’s true even if your product does address a pain point, but your prospect just doesn’t know it or doesn’t believe it.
This, as mentioned earlier, is where your content will come in, along with concise, effective, persona-based messaging.
With every campaign, every piece of collateral, every social post, etc. ask yourself: am I communicating clearly what our product does?
9. Finally, focus on the benefits, not the features.
This is also a universal piece of marketing guidance, but tech marketers can easily get lost in their product’s impressive features—perhaps because there are so many of them.
Talking about features is an important part of selling a tech product, but in general, features should always come second to benefits.
If you’re selling enterprise integration software, the primary benefit of your product would be that it helps you break down data silos in your company by connecting multiple programs and allowing everyone to access the same information. Additional benefits could be increased productivity, real-time updates, and faster onboarding.
Features—for example, business process management tools, a visual interface, and an API assistant—can be emphasized later or in a separate area of your website for people who’ve already shown some interest and want to learn more.
Marketing an AI or tech product relies on many of the same universal marketing guidelines but with a few strategic tweaks to help you communicate something complex in an accessible, effective way.
Want our team to take it from here? Get in touch today!