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Three Challenges Marketers Face in Wowing Their Tech Clients

by Aidan Grayson  |  
August 23, 2013

Salt and pepper. Merlot and Gouda. Facebook and Instagram. Few would bat an eyelid at the coexistence of these classic---and not so classic---pairings. But marketers and tech clients?

If that was always a match made in heaven, you’d hardly give it pause. The reality, however, is that tech clients present marketers with a special set of challenges.

Here are a few of those challenges to consider when dealing with a tech client.

1. Turning complex ideas into compelling stories

So a potential new client, ABC Technologies, just contacted you requesting a meeting. Normally, step one would be visiting the company’s website to get a handle on whatever it is they do---a task that typically takes 5-10 minutes for absorbing only the basics.

But ABC Technologies isn’t like your other clients. You’ve spent more than 20 minutes reading through its foundational content, but you’re still not sure what they do.

By the time you finally start to understand what’s going on, you’ve realized that distilling this story down into a clear, compelling statement of benefits will be far more difficult than doing that for, say, a car dealership, hotel, or coffee shop. And therein lies the problem.

While telling compelling stories already accounts for a lot of the marketer’s creative legwork, those stories are far more difficult to tell when they involve lots of technical complexity.

Businesses with non-intuitive processes or products pose a unique challenge to marketers.

If you’re able to simplify those businesses’ stories and clarify the advantages they offer, you’ll be a tremendous help to them. Know that getting their story “right” may require more time and effort than you’re accustomed to.

2. Balancing casual and institutional

Far removed from the stuffy corporate atmosphere of yesteryear, many technology professionals show up to work in jeans, enjoy pizza and beer with their colleagues every Friday (at the office!), and are allowed to work from home a lot.

Tech companies are noted for these “innovative” work environments (Google being perhaps the most well known). And many tech executives believe a casual setting helps build team morale.

In other industries, however, this approach may seem casual to the point of unprofessionalism. And when decision makers in those industries happen to be your client’s clients, a scenario that’s common in the B2B software space, it’s your job to see that the forward-looking tech client’s message resonates with its more traditional audience.

The idea isn’t a new one. You’re always trying to appeal to your client’s audience, no matter who it is. But doing so in a way that doesn’t align with your client’s business style risks inciting backlash, so be prepared to explain the reasoning behind your “institutional” approach.

3. Avoiding a face-off among creatives

You’re a creative person. It’s why you’re so good at your job. Know what, though? Your tech client is staffed with creative people, too. And that’s why they’re so good at their jobs.

Do you see the potential for conflict?

When one group of creative people (your tech client) hires another group of creative people (you and your team) to help solve a problem, there’s a good chance the former group will try to insert its creativity into whatever the latter group considers its own realm of expertise.

Sometimes, this can be great. Ever had a client who was either unwilling or unable to provide you with any direction at all? It makes everything harder.

On the other hand, your more creative, proactive clients may tend to overstep a little bit. They might insist that you use their own ideas even when your experience suggests that those ideas could harm the client’s marketing efforts.

Tech companies may not be the easiest clients to work with all the time, but many a marketer thrives under the challenges they present. In the end, the hardest part may simply be knowing what you’re in for.

And now you know.

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Adam Green is a writer and marketer who works primarily with tech companies. He contributed this article on behalf of Attachmate’s Luminet solution.

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