The Missing Ingredient in Tech Marketing: A Human Connection

Technology, and marketing technology, has been a consistent and much-loved part of my career. I consider myself fortunate to have worked on the IBM business in the late 90’s when Ogilvy’s New York and Paris offices were rewriting the perception that B2B marketing had to be dry, filled with techno-jargon and sterile.

Like many others, I certainly leant forward when Apple launched their memorable “Think Different” campaign. I loved it so much that it is still framed on my study wall.

For the most part though, technology marketing remains caught in a cycle of glorifying technological innovation with scant attention actually paid to the flesh and blood humans the technology was built for.

Before purists call me a heretic, raise pitchforks or launch into “But, what about XYZ Company”, consider this recent Fast Company article about Apple’s latest “Designed in California” ads. The author’s point is that Apple were celebrating a product – fair enough, they’re a product manufacturer – rather than the people whose lives were improved by using said product.

In his opinion, an epic fail.

I couldn’t agree with him more.

And, with 174 comments and 6.5K “Likes” on Facebook, it would appear I’m not the only one.

Sadly, most technology marketers remain so enamored with their technology that they forget they’ve an audience to serve. For the vast majority of that audience, the “feeds & speeds” approach misses the first communications imperative – “How is my life enhanced by this product?”

It also fails to understand a graver issue.

All technology is inevitably going to be matched.

Ultimately the technology itself is no longer a differentiator – because it quickly becomes parity.

Moore’s Law notwithstanding, most technologies today have become incremental enhancements versus the huge leaps forward of earlier decades. As a very astute tech client remarked recently “we’re making chips the size of individual atoms, where the heck do we go next?”

Shockingly, Apple seems to have lost sight of that.

A brand that, with “Think Different” and other campaigns, clearly articulated who they were, why they existed and which people they were built for. It’s sad really.

Technology marketing has to make a human connection. It can’t rely on incremental technological enhancements to create brand affinity. Today’s consumers are too fickle to stay if you haven’t genuinely connected with them. That connection has to be emotional.

Two examples which show how critical this connection between consumers and brands are in this space.

A fine example, in my opinion, from Google.

Watch video below.

And then Facebook’s much maligned “Chairs” execution which I believe Tim Fishburne magically summed up in the image (see article image).

What say you Dear Reader? Are technology marketers right to focus on their bright shiny new features or find a deeper human connection? Are there brands in your market that do this well?

Web Site:

Hilton Barbour, The Missing Ingredient in Tech Marketing: A Human ConnectionAbout the Author: An insatiable curiosity is my defining characteristic. Which is probably why I got into advertising over 14 years ago. I know it ain’t a real job in comparison to say, a fireman or a nuclear physicist but hey. Anyway, along the way I’ve developed an opinion on a coupla things. This blog allows me to air a few of those opinions and thoughts. I thank you for your visit and welcome your feedback.

Reproduced with permission from his blog


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