According to Gov.UK, the UK tech industry reached a combined market value of $1 trillion in 2022, with over three million people working in UK tech and 144 unicorns having been created.
Whilst these stats are made up of a combination of different applications of technology, a few that stand out as key parts of the UK’s dominance in tech are upskilling and reskilling. Nearly 3,000 edtech startups raised a collective £1.7 billion in funding over the past five years.
As with any sector, growth for tech has brought about several positives. Such as creating jobs, providing businesses and the public with innovation, convenience and accessibility, and creating a lucrative market. However, there are also challenges for businesses when it comes to overcoming a crowded market and standing out from competitors.
Unpacking tech jargon
Since the global pandemic, we have seen rapid adoption of various technologies for businesses’ digital transformation efforts. When much of the country left the office in March 2020 for remote working, companies that had already started their digital transformation journey were more likely to have suitable infrastructure to support this shift. And those who hadn’t were rushing to catch up.
Following this massive shift in infrastructure, IT, security, and day-to-day business needs, the tech industry started one of its own. We saw an increase in companies discussing digital transformation, cloud and remote work through marketing strategies and customer communication. On-premises solutions were no longer a priority, it was all about the cloud, enabling remote access and digital transformation.
However, despite the need for these services, companies were not overly clear about what their offerings provided. Yes, they mentioned the key buzzwords. But rather than accompanying them with helpful USPs and solutions to problems, they were followed by marketing jargon. Jargon that wouldn’t have meant a lot to many businesses and likely feel forced into the conversation to meet the new demand for certain services.
Although a lot of vendors have worked on their offerings over the past few years, we’re still seeing it today. For example, I recently attended an industry event where several tech companies were displaying the words “cloud” or “AI” on their stands, without giving much context behind them.
Communicating to media
Marketing jargon does have its place. However, in a crowded market of vendors selling cloud-based solutions or AI-powered technology, more needs to be done to communicate clearly and engage key stakeholders. It’s imperative to communicate the true meaning of the words used and how those companies are solving real business problems. Rather than jumping on the latest innovation to boost sales.
This is where strategic PR comes in.
When externally communicating your offering and USP, focus on the problems you’re looking to solve for your customers more than the technology itself. Media care about three things: how you’re helping customers, what unique solutions you’re bringing to market, and insight into the common pain points or threats businesses are facing. And it’s important to tailor your communications accordingly.
Below are some key tips to ensure you’re getting your point across, standing out from competitors, and building relationships with key media to help you reach your audience:
Move away from the jargon
Words like “cloud”, “digital transformation” and “AI” certainly have their place and demonstrate what a company does or provides. However, when engaging with journalists, simply leading with the latest buzzword means you’re going to be one of many saying the same thing, likely solving the same general problem, and using the same sort of tech to do it. To stand out, make sure you’re backing up what you’re saying with explanations of how your technology can be applied. Also, highlight what advantages and differences you bring to the table and the real-business issues you’re solving. Translating complex technology in to real-life solutions is key.
Separate media communications from marketing talk
While PR and marketing go hand in hand, the message used in each initiative should be different. It’s not to say the subject matter should change, but while marketing content can be more brand-specific and product-focused, PR content used for media opportunities should be more neutral, shouldn’t mention your company or solutions directly, and should be more educational and issues-led.
The tech industry has seen several companies rebrand themselves when a new customer demand arises. Take the cloud for example. The pandemic dramatically increased cloud migration, with businesses needing to move everything to the cloud rapidly to enable remote working. As such, we saw businesses quickly spinning up messaging around this very topic. Although reacting to audience needs is important, changing your messaging to fit the bill and moving away from what your company and technology were designed to do is not always the best approach. Remaining authentic and focusing on the problems you can directly solve, will undoubtedly prove to be more effective in the long run.
Don’t just pay lip service to the problems you can help businesses to solve. Talk about how you’re addressing customer challenges and demonstrate how your product helps customers with those challenges. For example, doing this through customer case studies or product news that details your product’s USPs in the space. Working collaboratively with your customers to promote your work together can also help to strengthen existing client relationships.
Use your best spokespeople
These aren’t necessarily people from your marketing team, but people like your CTO, CISO, and CPO. Those who can paint the bigger picture for the media, relate your technology to real-world issues and relate to the audience you’re trying to reach.
Tailor your talking points
In the same way you would tailor your sales approach depending on which customer or prospect you’re talking to, tailor your points in interviews or thought leadership pieces to those that will resonate with the particular journalist, publication, and readership. E.g. If talking to a financial technology publication, talk about the issue in the context of finance. Don’t generalise.
Rather than trying to take this task on alone, bring in the experts. A true communications strategy devised by comms specialists in the sector will help you communicate what you bring to the table in a way that resonates with the media, creates an impact and helps you cut through the jargon the rest of the industry is putting out there.