It is a simple question "How Does your Technology Fit?" and the answer is far from simple. It is not a yes or no question.
You may know that it is a good fit but how does your customer know?
One of the greatest challenges in marketing for technical products and services is establishing that there is a fit for the product and the value that it delivers. Value is a major topic but for now let’s focus on the Fit portion assuming you are clear on the Value Proposition.
Firstly there is not one answer. It depends on several key factors:
1. The size of the customer organization
2. The nature of the customer organization
3. Lifecycle stage of the technology
4. Social Proof of the technology and of your business
While each of these in a whole article itself we can look at them in a practical way to help shape your marketing plans.
Size of the customer organization
Are you selling to just one size of company? Small, medium or large businesses do not invest in technology in the same way. Each one has specific criteria for consideration, evaluation and adoption of the new technology. Have you considered how to demonstrate fit in your marketing material for each one of these groups? Or maybe you only sell to one of them. In that case you can focus all of your efforts there. Do you know how they decide whether your product fits their need? Does your marketing speak to this?
Nature of the customer organization
Some companies invest in technology very differently from others. Many years ago Gartner published a Technology Adoption Profile where it classified businesses by how aggressive, main stream or risk adverse they were to new technology. Aggressive (Type A) businesses adopt early and often to seek competitive advantage. Mainstream (Type B) are the majority and adopt once technology is established and proven. Risk-adverse (Type C) will adopt only when the technology is mature and broadly accepted to the point of being nearly everywhere or considered a necessity. Does you technology fit one of these profiles more than the others? Can you market effectively to that organization? Should you focus your efforts elsewhere or should you change how you position your technology?
Lifecycle stage of the Technology
Much like the way organizations adopt new technology, the technology itself has a life cycle. When the technology is really new, customers (even early adopters) are wary of it. As it matures it becomes more approachable by more buyers and will eventually become common place. Obviously you as a business want to fit your technology stage to the customer’s type. That is the easiest fit possible and unfortunately you cannot always achieve that goal. This concept is well explored in the book “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore. What is not well explored in that book is exactly how to position your technology to target both early and mainstream adopters and how to communicate that in your marketing. The book also does not address how to position mature technology innovations to the early adopters.
Bottom line – does your marketing material and your core message reflect the fit to your customer of your technology relative to lifecycle?
Social Proof of the technology and of your business
This is not just a technology company problem. It is true that every business needs to show proof that their product or service is a good fit. However, establishing this truth is made more challenging when the products are highly technical in nature. Often time the comparable market is small and the investment can be large. How do you overcome these limitations? One technique is to use adjacent customers or markets when no direct comparable exists. Doing so will allow you to show the value and the fit and make it easier for your customers to see this in your marketing material.
So the answer to the question “Does Your Technology Fit?“ must be “Yes and here is why…” and this needs to be woven into your marketing from the strategy on down.