Key Signs Your Tech Company Needs a Messaging Tune-Up

by Debra Andrews | July 20, 2020

What does your tech company do, and how do you do it better than competitors?

Simple questions, right? You’d be surprised at how often tech innovators struggle to answer those “simple” questions clearly, consistently and compellingly. If you are going to market – or even just to a prospect meeting – with messaging that hasn’t kept pace with your company’s evolution, you could be putting valuable opportunities at risk.

Just as you tune a musical instrument so that it will deliver pitch perfect sound, your tech company should regularly revisit its messaging to ensure you are effectively communicating what you do, how you stand out from competitors and the value you bring to customers.

How do you know when an investment in new messaging is warranted? Here are some key signs that the time for a messaging tune-up is now.

New Competitors Have Emerged or Changed Their Game

The foundation of messaging is a clear positioning statement – a cut-to-the-chase sentence that explains what you do relative to your competition: Dream Big Company creates unmatched widgets that allow you to time travel faster and more safely than any other technology on the market. If Dream Big’s competitors have changed their offerings or new competitors have emerged, the company’s positioning statement and the messaging that flows from it will likely need to change, too. Same goes for you.

You Are Prioritizing A New Product or Service

Odds are that today’s gold standard product or service isn’t what you were focused on even a few short years ago. If a new product or service is likely to drive a high proportion of your future growth, it’s time to revisit messaging and give it a place of prominence.

Underscoring that point, a tech client of ours recently gave us a crash course in an emerging and very buzzed about technology that currently has only about 20% market saturation. The company had been well ahead of the curve as an early advocate for and implementer of this technology, and the team recognized a tremendous opportunity to command a good portion of the relatively open market. We all agreed that the potential was significant enough to warrant front and center reference to the technology in the company’s refreshed messaging – and we proceeded accordingly.

You Are Moving Beyond an Old Product or Service

Conversely, if a product or service that features prominently in your messaging is now considered “old school,” it’s time for a messaging adjustment. Without one, customers and prospects may view you as dated and far from the cutting edge, the kiss of death for any tech company.

This point hit close to home during a recent discovery meeting with a rapidly growing tech company. We took a hard look at the company’s core services as described in existing marketing materials and on its website. When we got to a certain service, the general consensus among senior management was: “Well, that’s where we started, but we really don’t do much of it anymore.”

Even so, reference to the service had become so ingrained in the company’s messaging that no one had given its inclusion much recent thought. A fresh perspective helped the team realize it was time to describe the service differently and move it out of the messaging limelight, making room for an emphasis on offerings that were far more likely to drive future growth. 

Acquisitions or New Hires Have Improved Your Capabilities

Whether you’ve made a new acquisition organically or because of private equity funding, your offerings have undoubtedly expanded or strengthened. The acquisition could have brought in new team members with impressive skill sets, enabled you to enter a new geographic market or given you the ability to provide a new product or service altogether. Even a single new hire could change your capabilities. Revisit your messaging, and let the market know everything you can now provide!

Your Team Members Each Describe Your Company Differently

If you randomly select team members and ask them what your company does and how it brings value to your customers, are you hearing wildly different answers or essentially the same one? If team members aren’t out there telling the same clear story, it may be because existing messaging no longer reflects what they are really doing or, worse, never did. They then find themselves scrambling to fill in gaps as best they can, with resulting descriptions that can be, let’s face it, all over the place.

The messaging process should include a survey of your team members that gives them a voice. Review their input, incorporate it as warranted and ensure that everyone moves forward on the same page with a company story all can be proud of – one that reflects the team’s hard work and engages existing and prospective customers.

You Haven’t Surveyed Your Key Customers Recently… Or Ever

Who better to articulate the value you bring to your customers than, you guessed it, your customers?

An expert messaging process should include interviews designed to reveal what customers appreciate about your products or services, what you might be able to do to serve them better and what’s currently driving their purchase decisions.

These interviews often act as valuable “reality checks” and, in our experience, they always bring a fresh perspective, insights that can sometimes be quite surprising and interesting wording that can be woven into refreshed messaging. Information gleaned from these interviews will also help you to build more accurate buyer personas. These personas are critically important, providing the foundation for messaging that resonates with the right decision makers.

You Aren’t Reaching Your Revenue and Growth Goals

Granted, there are any number of reasons behind disappointing revenue and sluggish growth. One may be that the market is confused about who you are, what you offer and how you can bring value. Clarify your messaging and make it more compelling, and then see what happens. A messaging tune-up may be all you need for a revenue/growth boost – or, at the least, it’s a great first step to getting back on course.

The World Has Changed

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a business seismic shift, one that likely isn’t fleeting. With the new emphasis on remote work, for example, many tech company customers are looking to strengthen their networking capabilities and build more formidable security around work-from-home employees who are particularly vulnerable to cybercrime. Revisit messaging to ensure you are being clear about how you can help.

Ummm… I’m Not Sure When We Last Looked at Our Messaging

OK, this last one is short and sweet. If you can’t remember the last time you revisited your messaging, it’s time to revisit your messaging. Your tech company has evolved, or it wouldn’t still be in operation. Your messaging needs to evolve, too.

Don’t Trust Your Messaging to Just Anyone

Messaging is tough. It has to incorporate input from management, customers and team members while also considering competitors and the overall market. All of that has to be boiled down into a spot-on positioning statement along with a concise, clear and compelling company story.

While lots of people can write reasonably well, not everyone can handle messaging. If your tech company is finding it difficult, reach out to a strategic marketing firm that has experts who can handle all aspects of the process. That group will include a talented writer able to tie everything together into a value proposition and company story that are uniquely and powerfully yours.