Clichés we all need to ditch in technology marketing

How many technology companies use photos like this? Even photos can be clichés!

How many technology companies use photos like this? Even photos can be clichés!

I’m certainly guilty of falling into the temptation of littering my writing with clichés. From my regular perusals of technology company websites I can see others fall into this trap too. There are just so many powerful, flexible one-stop shops in the B2B marketplace, but I’m often no wiser as to what they actually do!  Let’s consider a few of the biggest cliché traps we all fall into, and let me offer you some possible escape routes too.

Plain ol’ corporate gobbledegook

Trap: The world’s most flexible and innovative software solution

So, you’re reading through some technology company’s website and all you can glean through the haze of the corporate jargon is that the company claims that their product is the greatest. Of course they do!

But what you really want to know is, firstly, what the product does, and, secondly, how it differs from anything else on the market. If you are Apple , you might  get away with a sprinkling of unsubstantiated superlatives, , but the rest of us need to stateclearly what we believe we do best. To gain maximum understanding, we need to write in the way we might explain it to someone we’d just met who had asked ‘so what does your company do?’. .

Escape route: Online research software that promotes your creativity

Features dressed up as benefits

Trap: Gain the power and flexibility you need to engage customers

Most people in sales or marketing know now that if you talk about software or services, you need to major on the benefits, not the features. This example is an attempt at writing a benefit, but in truth few people are saying to themselves what they really need is some power and flexibility, but many will be thinking that they need to engage the right customers – the ones that have a need and money to spend. So, always put yourself in the shoes the customer or prospect and write what is going to have the most impact. Focus on the actual benefits.

Escape route: Use our software to engage with the right customers

Claims that are vague platitudes

Trap: We go the extra mile

If you catch yourself writing vague platitudes such as ‘one-stop shop’, ‘easy to use’, ‘cutting edge’ or the dreaded ‘we go the extra mile’…. it’s time for a rewrite. Don’t simply voice an aspiration that any company is likely to share.Be more precise. Essentially, you need to explain exactly what it is that is different and better from your competitors. It might be as simple as listing what you do to achieve what you claim. Claims become credible one you explain how you achieve them. .

Escape route: Your satisfaction is our top priority, so our consultants will work with you until your targets are met

Next time you find yourself writing a ‘cutting-edge technology product’ that is ‘built from the ground up’, please pause and ask yourself what your customers really care about. You can be pretty sure that they are much less interested in how you built your product than how it  might impact their productivity and profits. Write the answers to the questions they are likely to ask,  in the language they are likely to use.

Revealing MR technology in 2023!

Having just helped to complete the (rather weighty) 2013 Confirmit MR Technology Report, I am definitely in a celebratory mood, especially as it’s the tenth anniversary of the project. To mark the occasion, we added some extra juicy questions this time. We normally use only closed questions, except for the occasional ‘other specify’, but for our 2013 survey, we challenged our participants (and ourselves!) with some open ends, but not just ordinary open ends – they were gamified.

In one of the gamified questions, we told respondents to imagine they were seeing a copy of our report in 2023 and we asked what would be the biggest technological advance within it.

Our participants, all of whom were senior decision makers at market research companies around the world, were predicting that many of the current emerging trends would continue to expand – for example mobile data collection and big data analysis – and many were also expecting more exotic developments such as augmented reality. For example, one person wrote:

“Providing useful Insights from Big Data – establishing online interaction with respondents in the social community and businesses from continuous analysis of Big Data having captured their interest in participating on a daily basis to make better decisions on their areas of interest. Big data = social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google etc.) plus business own data, respondent market research, personal blogs, purchase and location monitoring on wearable devices.”

Or, somewhat more futuristically, another commented:

“Google Glass will change our lives radically. For the well-educated, it will be trendy to have the internet and its services right in front of our eyes, continuously. Thus, artificial intelligence will accompany us everywhere we go and provide us with all the information we need along the way. It only lacks the thought control, but even that is already in the early stages. At first we will be able to control these devices with glances, without having to speak. Advertising and services that pop up when we go about our daily lives with internet glasses will occupy a large part of the market research of the future.”

In contrast, a few respondents were pessimistic about the future of traditional market research. For example:

“I think most of the data we’ll be reporting on will be passively collected. I think primary research data will be a thing of the past….”

I hope to be writing about a vibrant and healthy industry in 2023, but one thing I feel sure about is that the industry will be different. In the meanwhile, I recommend reading our 2013 report. Here’s to the next ten years!

  • Read the 2013 Confirmit MR Technology Report:  
    To download this content, please login or register for free. Reports and other downloads are only provided to registered members.

How to read software websites

A fortune teller's crystal ballI regularly visit the websites of the market research software companies.  They all have the most “powerful”, “flexible”, “easy-to-use”, and “open” software solutions. If you are looking for some new kit, especially if it is something they all offer, like Web interviewing, CATI software or analysis and reporting tools, the choice can seem overwhelmingly daunting. So, how do you step out of the marketing fog and compare them a little more objectively? Obviously, you are not going to be able to make a final choice by looking at websites alone, but it would be nice to use websites to narrow the field a little – by looking at exactly what they do say, and sometimes by looking at what they don’t say.

Even creating a ‘longlist’ is difficult. (And I do truly know because at meaning we often help companies do exactly this). One of the key differentiators, cost of ownership, is never on websites! Although I guess the software companies would argue that it is not how much it costs but how much money it makes you that counts…. and that is never on websites either!

There are probably several hundred Web interviewing systems on the market now and over a dozen significant ones. It seems doubtful that each of these products has been tried and tested in a wide range of situations by a large number of companies, which means there is bound to be software that is lacking in certain areas, and those areas may be just the ones you need. So, three of the key questions I ask when looking at a manufacturer’s website: is what evidence is there that real customers are using this product?  Are these customers doing the kind of things that I want to do? And thirdly, do these customers have similar kinds of operations and are they doing projects of a similar levels of complexity?

Beyond that, I’d ask What about the software company itself? Am I likely to need consulting and support? If so, are they at least in a similar time zone to me?

Of course this is just a start and you will need to consider at least one or two more factors that are ‘must haves’ for your business. All this may help you reduce hundreds to something slightly more manageable.