News

How to Talk about Personal Tech

Marketing teams don’t necessarily need engineering degrees to build anticipation for new personal tech devices.

But they do need to differentiate their product, and to engage multiple – often global – audiences. Here are some basic rules to remember:

Too much technical detail can muddle the message. If you work for a tech company, you and most of the people you know are likely early adopters who care about specs, how it works, and whether it’s top of the line. Most of your customers don’t, however.

Why is this different? Every new iteration of your popular device must explain – no, shout – the three most important new features included. The biggest problem with Apple’s elimination of the 3.5mm jack wasn’t that they were wrong to do it. In fact, it may prove as prescient as their early elimination of the 3.5” floppy disk in laptops. The problem is they concurrently offered so little else in the iPhone 7 that was exciting  – or at least did such a poor job explaining why we should be excited. New colors? More megapixels? Who cares?

Make it fun or don’t make it. There will always be a need for specialty products, but if you’re aiming for the mass market, you need to understand you’re building something for us to integrate into our everyday lives. More on that below . . .

Our research shows that that the right messaging can turn casual consumers into the early adopters of the future. Below are some of the attributes that our consumer groups say must come included with any new device.

Communicating on Personal Tech, the RIGHT Way: Emphasize …

Reliability

Today’s consumers are inundated with options. And reliability of the tech they use is their absolute baseline. It just has to work – and preferably not spontaneously burst into flames (sorry we couldn’t resist).

Consumers assume every product will work out of the box. But no matter the resources devoted to R&D, something inevitably goes wrong for at least a few models. It’s not a question of if – or even when – it’s a question of how a company responds to it.

When problems do arise, the mission changes to: identify, acknowledge, and resolve the issue. In extreme cases (e.g., Samsung Galaxy Note 7, iPhone 4), that might mean a massive recall or accessory giveaway. Expensive fixes are a bitter pill, but the alternative is worse: our consumer groups consistently rank “puts profits before people” as one of the most poisonous reputations a company can have. And rebuilding trust is ten times harder than earning it in the first place.

Speed

Every time you have to pull a device out of your pocket … every unnecessary click … every redundant password entry is a tiny mark on your company’s reputation. Over time, they build customer frustration and erode loyalty (looking at you, iOS 10 lock screen).

Speed is less about GHz and more about convenience. Consumers demand an experience that makes it easy to find, learn about, and get what they need. Right away.

That’s why a seamless, efficient user experience is one of the most effective ways to communicate speed. Whether it’s clean website design, quick point-of-sale transactions, or clever advertising, the implicit message is: “easy to understand, easy to use.”  Tech consumers’ nightmare is getting lost in an abyss of steps or menu screens.

Consumer-centric focus

Consumers don’t want change for the sake of change. So companies have to show that decision-making is based on actual needs and common sense – not on the whims of a design team.

Microsoft spent much of last year setting the stage for Windows 10 by emphasizing the role of feedback from their Insiders program. That showed that after the rocky rollout of Windows 8, Microsoft was putting their customers first.

The way companies explain their designs and decision-making to global audiences is an integral part of brand management. User privacy is a particularly sensitive topic; any expansion or change surrounding the collection of personal information needs to be clearly articulated. Take every opportunity to demonstrate that “we’re listening” … “solving real problems” and committed to “meaningful change.” By aligning the company’s interests with those of consumers, it lays the foundation for consumer trust and loyalty.