Newsflash – the tech scene in Silicon Valley has been booming over the last 20 years. Today, we have over 6,000 companies situated around Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Menlo Park. Silicon Valley is not only the epicenter of tech but also for high tech marketing. So what’s really going on here from a marketing perspective to help fuel this?
Part of it is obviously the size of the investment a Silicon Valley company can expect. A $10M investment in a Scandinavian start-up would be newsworthy. Meanwhile, last year Bloomberg made the announcement that they will no longer cover investments below $80M. And obviously, that money results in more marketing output – but bear in mind, everything (including billboards and marketing talent) is also more expensive in the Silicon Valley so that money will not necessarily go as far. Regardless, one important differentiator is that we do spend on marketing, and expect that it will cost. As a rule of thumb, we value marketing more than we sometimes see in other geographical areas.
Spend time on brand strategy
What are your differentiators, USPs, emotional drivers, and values? What is your brand story and why does it matter? And seeing the strategy through to visual execution and realizing that a brand strategy anchored in ‘Confidence’ will look and feel different from a brand anchored in ‘Clarity’. Understand your market and know that your competitors can come from all angles. Just because nobody else provides a product exactly like yours doesn’t mean you have no competitors. A home-cobbled solution could be competitive. As could creating an entirely different technology stack that provides a similar – but not identical solution.
Understand your audience
The one thing that’s missing from most brand strategy work in our opinion is a real understanding of the target audience. One of the biggest mistakes we make in B2B marketing is that we forget that our target audience is comprised of actual, living, breathing human beings. People who are concerned about keeping their jobs, who are climbing the career ladder and guarding their personal brands. The solution to this is to create what we call “personas” and then build our marketing messages around these. Personas are descriptors of groups of people based around general assumptions. And in B2B, what books they read and TV programs they watch is a lot less relevant than what struggles they have in their professional lives.
But beyond that, we don’t only build a brand for the people who buy our products. The Silicon Valley labor market is tight – meaning that building a brand that employees want to work for is just as important. And then, of course, we have the investors, the VCs and the rest of the valley. This audience is not directly responsible for moving units, but count just as much when it comes to creating a high tech brand.
Consistency is key
Take cues from the consumer brands out there. Coca-Cola doesn’t change – they stay the course. As advertisers, it’s easy to believe our audience is paying attention. That they’re getting bored with our message being repeated over and over. But the truth is, the only ones getting bored are us. Our audience sees only a fraction of what we put out there so letting our campaigns run close to 6 months is how we optimize both message and the budget spent.
Someone smart once said that 50% of advertising is wasted. Now if we could only figure out which 50% we’d be ahead! Today, that 50% is probably a lot higher. We’d even go out on a limb and say that MOST advertising is wasted… it doesn’t get you fired, it doesn’t ruffle feathers, but it’s mainly just passed over and forgotten.
So know that a campaign and a brand that is successful – people will have comments on. They’ll even criticize… But that’s the good thing, as hard as it is to take that criticism, you’re getting noticed… which is more than can be said for at least 50% of all advertising out there.
Yes – this is the latest buzzword in marketing I realize this…But what does it mean? Especially to a B2B brand?!
Well, start by talking about the outcomes, not the product and benefits. Paint a picture of your product, why was it brought to market. Why does it matter? Start by getting the Brand Story right and this stuff will all flow easily from there. The best illustration of this, of course, includes a call-out to Apple and Steve Jobs. Yes, the iPod could have been launched around how many megabytes of memory it had… but it would have then been landed in the same graveyard as all those other nameless MP3 players of the early 2000s. Instead, we all remember 1,000 songs in your pocket… and wanting to be part of that, have access to it.