My Mom always told me, “Don’t toot your own horn. Let others do it for you.” To some, this counsel runs counter to how Freud’s id has us wired and requires far too much patience and reliance on others to execute properly. In a society that fawns foolishly over red carpet poses from talentless reality stars, it’s a stretch to suggest humble turtles will, in the end, surpass any Kardashian hares and, more importantly, be the better for it in the end. But alas, that’s precisely what works in technology marketing.
It astounds me when I read web sites whose prevalent voice is replete with “we” words rather than “you” words. “We do this, we do that, our products have these features and those attributes.” It’s a formulaic but imperfect crutch that bends toward arrogance. Antidote to this kool-aid drinking self congratulation, an ad agency I worked with for many years opened each pitch with a clear and brutally honest table setter: “No one cares about you, your products, or your technologies. There, now you’re ready to start marketing.” Truer words have not been spoken or, sadly, more often ignored. When technology companies begin their marketing plans from a self-centric perspective, they are in fact committing a horrendous mistake because prospects care not one iota about a “pioneering, next generation, leading, best of breed technology platform,” they only care what it can do for them. For all the talk about unique differentiators and value propositions, it’s important to heed this simple counsel: It’s not why you’re unique that matters, it’s why you’re uniquely needed.
Oh, and while you’re at this stripping bare of self-centered story lines, think also about how social mediums have forever changed the nature of conversations and relationships. What was a one-way “Mad Men” style advertising model in which messages bombard unwitting consumers now has ceded to social suggestions that, in a very real way, shape brand perceptions and impact sales. Friend this, Like that, Retweet me…these are all horns tooting to and fro, the aggregation of which is an organic and dynamic codification of a brand. And while we can continue to think we can control our brands, the truth is very different. We don’t control our brands, we merely set it them on a trajectory and then participate in its shaping over time.
So, be smart. Put aside the buzzwords that everyone else uses, which alone will make you sound unique. Take a step back from yourself, and read your story with an eye to understanding whether you’re coming across as a Kardashian or something far more appealing.
We do this for a living, so shoot me an email if you’d like some help re-crafting your “we” messages into meaningful “you” messages.