Amogh has been involved in entrepreneurship since college. After working in marketing and advertising agencies in Mumbai and Pune, Amogh again started his entrepreneurial stint in 2018. He successfully raised two rounds of funds for his previous venture. In Clueless Monk Tech he heads the business and operations.
Would you be able to name three things in your life that have absolutely nothing to do with digital technology? Highly unlikely! And yet, the scientific advances and jargon around digital tech make it difficult for a non-tech person to really relate to it.
There are, of course, great UX developers who make the front end more user-friendly and easier to adapt to. But what about communicating it to non-tech investors, customers and employees? How can tech founders effectively communicate and make their technology more relatable to all their stakeholders?
The answer lies in understanding what the audience relates to and how they communicate. I often tell my clients that good marketing is not about conveying everything about your offering that you would want your stakeholders to appreciate. It is about conveying what your stakeholders would appreciate, by themselves, about your offering. The subtle difference is knowing what they would want to hear and saying just that.
Working on product development and marketing campaigns, I have realised that it is not about the technology. Most non-tech people come from a non-science background, which means they haven’t gone through a systematic curriculum that nurtures scientific temperament. To make your technology more relatable to them, you have to focus on context, rather than just data.
It’s always the story
Why do you do what you do? What was the reason you decided to build this technology? There is always a story behind a zealous founder wanting to bring about a change. For you, the tech-founder, it might be a terribly tiny tale but if professionally elaborated, it can make for a great story.
People with a technical understanding are able to appreciate the nuances but an average Joe might relate more to the problem you are trying to solve. The story behind your technology involves you; it involves a human element which, when highlighted correctly, helps people relate to your solution.
Consider, for example, how cleverly the personal story of PayTM Founder and CEO, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, was highlighted in the post-demonetization days. People related to and admired the story of a middle-class young professional who believed in solving a problem he himself faced as a common man, stuck to it through its ups and downs, and was eventually rewarded by the universe.
More often than not, tech products are solving everyday problems and if I, a non-tech person, feel associated with the problem, I will also feel an association with the solution.
Impressive vs Approachable
There are a hundred ways in which you can sound impressive to your investors and customers. Your pitch decks, tech stacks and white papers do that for you. But it is equally, and sometimes more important, for a tech product to be more approachable.
An approachable tech product makes its user feel intelligent and attains better and quicker product-market fit than a product which is technologically superior but difficult to understand.
But you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. There are places and times when you need to be impressive and then there are places and times when you need to be approachable. Knowing when to be what is the key to it. That is why creating a communication strategy that simplifies the description of your product is just as important as designing an easy-to-navigate UI.
When you are designing a product tutorial or a marketing communication strategy, it is important to understand that there is a person on the other end experiencing your product. That person is influenced not just by data, but also by several other factors that together form user-experience.
When I was developing a social e-commerce app, my team spoke to several focus groups within our target demographic (teenagers) to find out what ticks for them. One of our customers suggested explaining the product via Instagram influencers. Instead of a boring product tutorial, we had a couple of cool influencers taking our new users through the app.
This is applicable to not just B2C products. Even for a B2B SaaS product, the convenience, ease of understanding and adaptability of the end-user are taken into consideration.
Not every stakeholder of yours will have similar influences and what ticks for someone might not work for someone else. Customizing your messaging to suit the platform and the demographic is key to keeping everyone engaged. It sounds exhausting but in the age of data analytics, it is easy to find out which section of your target audience is reacting to what kind of content and customizing your messaging accordingly.
For example, let’s say your tech product helps the elderly monitor basic health parameters at home and keep the device paired with a care-taker or a doctor. You have found out that the two kinds of people who buy this product are actual elderly people and millennials with elder parents.
Your messaging strategy for either of these customer segments buying the same product has to be very different, especially in terms of explaining the technology of your product. Where an elderly person might need explanation of the most obvious facts and features, a millennial son/daughter would only need to know major points that address their problem.
In today’s world where AI predicts what you want before you want it, not customizing your message is as good as not having a message.
Involve them in your journey
People admire people more than any product or service. This is evident from how much brand value Apple still leverages from the admiration people have for its founder. What Steve Jobs knew was to involve people in the evolution of his product. It was essentially his own journey that in the minds of his audience ended into a product.
All the hype around the product launches, would not have been possible without the interest Apple’s target audience has in the journey. This does not mean that every tech product needs to have a marketing maestro like Steve Jobs. You can simply create great blogs around the product development journey of your team. You can capture and promote first-hand reactions of customers using your beta-testing product.
All this results in generating a human-interest story around your product. A much recent example is that of Fresh Works. The personal growth story of its founder and the product were as impressive as the multi-billion-dollar valuation of the company. Even for people who have never directly come in contact with Fresh Works, it was a great touch-point to get associated with the brand.
In the quest to be technologically superior to their peers, tech entrepreneurs often pay less attention in making their technology more relatable for their audience. The key is to recognize the role of content and communication in the overall success of your tech product. A holistic and human-interest driven content strategy will enable you to understand what your stakeholders wish to hear from you and knowing it is the easiest way to make your technology relatable to your non-tech stakeholders.