Last evening while sitting at a traffic light in a rather unattractive neighborhood, I took note of two people, each with their cup, asking the passerby’s to donate them some money. Now what interested me to write this post were not the people, although they were interesting unto themselves, but rather the perceived agreement between the two of them.
It seems as though both of these people agreed to the lane they were going to service. The woman had the two left lanes and the man had the two right lanes. Interestingly though, the left lanes navigated the drivers into a rather impoverished neighborhood. The two right lanes navigated the drivers to a rather wealthy neighborhood that stood just beyond the bridge ahead.
What I noticed in this situation were that the two right lanes were providing substantially more income to the gentleman, opposed to the woman who was servicing the two left lanes. Now I am sure there are substantial sociological and psychological reasons for this – but I will spare you the intellectual banter.
In a very pedantic sense, it seemed as though the gentleman knew his market and where it was going and positioned himself in a way to ensure that he benefited the most from it. Based upon my very short observation, I would guess that he made 5 times more than the woman did.
In addition to the right positioning, it seems as though the gentleman servicing the two right lanes also knew his marketing pitch rather well. He told the same story every time and he did it in a less than 10 seconds. “Hello sir/madam, my name is….can you help….it will greatly….thank you and God Bless”.
Same story every time….in the same location…with the best chance of success.
So how does this relate to financial technology companies or technology companies more broadly speaking?
It is probably not news to you, but technology companies tend to speak a different language, filled with words and jargon unknown to people outside of the industry and sometimes not known by people in the industry. This type of jargon tends to permeate the entire marketing function within some of these technology companies. The website, mailers, online communications, sales pitches all include this type of jargon.
Like the man servicing the two right lanes, marketing professionals within technology companies need to pay more attention to ensure that their message is crystal clear and can be consumed by all. If you want to sell your technology to the IT staff only, then you should not worry about this. However, if you want to sell upstream to the non-tech staff and engage the CEO, COO and other non-tech decision makers, do yourself a favor and streamline your message.
The second point of this post relates to your choice of lanes. Many technology companies, particularly the start-up entrepreneurial one’s tend to jump between lanes, rather than taking the time focusing on the lane that will bring the most revenue. From what I have seen working with small startups and mid-market technology companies is that not enough time is spent analyzing the lane. Understand your market, understand what your competitors are doing and really understand the trends and where the road is headed.
A technology company that seems to have picked the right lane and has mastered their message is Salesforce.com. Now I remember Salesforce when they were a startup and I know of them today. Sure, the company has changed; it has become a behemoth of a company but it has remained consistent to its core message and has ensured that it does not deviate from its path. They have many solutions with complicated technology, yet their marketing message is rather clear, “We are the enterprise cloud computing company”. Rather straightforward and simple.
Do yourself a favor – DO NOT GET STUCK IN THE LEFT LANE!