We work with technology companies of all shapes and sizes; from pre-revenue to about $2.5 billion turnover at the last count. Regardless of size and maturity, a marketing challenge that we often encounter is how can we keep the content marketing pipeline full. In short, what can we talk about?
The holy grail for many businesses is to become recognised thought leaders in their field. We discussed how this requires depth of insight in a previous blog. Fundamentally though, the precursor to good writing is good thinking.
To stimulate thinking, and provide a meaningful answer to the question ‘what can we talk about?’, we sometimes use a simple model. When it comes to models, the old ones are often the best.
If your marketing career pre-dates the dotcom era, you may have come across the ‘chasm’ theory, which was about coping with a difficult phase in the development of high-tech markets.
The Competitive-Positioning Compass is just one of a whole series of models that came out of the chasm series of books. The intent of this model is to provide a framework for the evolution of communication strategy as a company matures. In fact, we found that we can use the model for the more tactical purpose of figuring out what tech companies can talk about, depending on who they’re addressing.
The beauty of this model is that it recognises audiences as either sceptical or supportive, and specialists or generalists. Having this in mind helps to shape the message, and the level of detail that we should write about. It also encourages us to think about how we use messaging to move people from a state of sceptism to being supportive. For example, we’re currently working with a client to address negative preconceptions around the use of Sigfox as an Internet of Things communications network.
At a more basic level, using this model will stimulate ideas. Just by thinking about who you’re talking to and which quadrant they fall into should get you thinking. For example, if you’re addressing sceptics/generalists, you could talk about market growth forecasts, standards certification, application proliferation, analyst viewpoints – all of these will reinforce your value proposition using language, references and data that this particular audience can relate to. Crucially, you’re not trying to ‘sell’ your product to a group of sceptics before winning them over with messaging to which they can relate.
As a bonus, this model also helps you to think more clearly about the media you should use to carry your message. You’re probably not going to reach the generalist audience by getting PR coverage in a specialist trade publication. You’d be surprised how many people don’t give any thought to using the right media for their message and audience.
It’s fair to assume that when the authors of ‘Crossing the Chasm’ first published their book in 1991, they had no idea of the social platforms and digital landscape of today’s world. Although the principles of generating stories is still relevant, taking it one step further and understanding how and where your audience consume your information is paramount. Don’t aim to be in one publication, but everywhere your audience is.