The rise and rise of 24 hour news reporting, social networks, blogs, professional networking sites, on-line media platforms and the like, have forced many companies into the position of being responsible for developing and continuing a ‘conversation’ with a variety of interested parties. These ‘parties’ being customers, investors, analysts, distributors, sales and marketing, product development, third party suppliers – the list goes on and on. The fact is – it is tiring, time consuming and akin to juggling many balls at the same time.
It is a scenario that many technology companies know when trying to enunciate on the qualities of their products and solutions, be it to the consumer or business-to-business.
In this context, what is special about the technology segment of security and identification?
Challenge #1 – YOU CAN’T TALK ABOUT YOUR PRODUCT IN DEPTH
Security can be a difficult market to work in, especially for the communications department. The very nature of the solution means that by talking in depth to a wider audience about your product almost automatically invalidates the image of security that you are trying to convey to your customers. This is a market where to say little to a wide audience is a good thing. Of course, this does not hold true to discussions with specific interested parties who demand in-depth knowledge before undertaking any sort of commercial transaction.
Security products and solutions are sold to end users through emotion, expectation and a deliverable – normally without the end users fully understanding or appreciating the intricacies of the product or solution itself. Not unlike the petroleum market. For instance, billions are spend on the product by end consumers without knowing exactly what chemicals are combined to make up the product they are buying in quantity – or in fact without ever seeing the product itself. However there remains an expectation that once purchased and inserted into a car – that car will function. Fundamentally, petrol is sold through expectation of a specific outcome. The same can be said for security solutions, especially those involved in technology-based security.
Challenge #2 – CONSUMERS INCREASINGLY DEMAND CONSTANT INTERACTION WITH SUPPLIERS
Consumers have been conditioned to expect companies to keep talking to them about their product, solution and brand. These consumers, however, cannot be blamed for this neediness – it has come as a direct result of having information available at the touch of a button accompanied with 24-hour, always-on notifications, news and other interactions.
While this is not as present in business-to-business relations, it has got an impact, as the use of social media and web-based information system expands into this segment, too.
When challenge #1 and #2 come together, for security technology companies – there can be a conflict in response; the company must keep talking – but can’t say anything meaningful to the customer. Rather like small talk at parties.
CONTENT PATTERN RECOGNITION – Trend spotting behind media & marketing content creation
Krowne recommends that companies who find themselves in this situation should turn away from specific product information for top level conversation interaction and instead embrace that of editorial or opinion-driven discourse. By developing content based on observations on trending amalgamated topics and placing them in context, it is possible to turn what could be considered a 21st century communication chore into a well-honed marketing communication asset.
By adopting this marketing content strategy, the company not only appears knowledgeable to their customer base, but also to other media outlets who may be picking up on similar topics. Krowne calls this ‘Content Pattern Recognition’. It is the ability to spot individual trending topics that could amalgamate or consolidate into an overall topical content trend that will drive both discussions on a larger scale and that through editorial development will engage customers and media platforms. Additionally, it will establish an aura of credibility upon the company, who is engaging in such editorial-based discussions.
Spotting individual trending stories is one thing, but understanding where they will lead, how overall content trends develop and what to add in terms of opinion can only come from those media relation companies whose specific job it is to advise and create content for clients. They have, of course, the requisite time, abilities and skills to recognize, encourage and engage in such content development.
SPOTTING TRENDING CONTENT IS A SKILL
Case in point; recent individual database hacks of large retail outlets in the US in early 2015 evolved into a story based on the nationality of supposed hackers, namely Russian. This in turn developed into a theme ‘The rise of the Russia-based hacker’, which later morphed into a story concerning Russian hackers breaking into the DNC email database and the releasing of stolen information to Wikileaks. So far we now find ourselves reading editorial content concerning possible Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election.
If companies engaging on online security could have recognized this content fast enough they could have led conversational discourse on the topic and thereby emerged as opinion leaders that could help bring light upon their products and solutions.
All too often though, companies shy away from creating opinion or observational-base discourse on topics for fear of ‘blowback’. This is a an excuse for entropy and ensuring that the company remains within the ‘pack’, with no chance of standing out from the ‘crowd’. A strategy that while ‘safe’ will not bring said company to the attention of new customers. Not only customers and partners are looking for companies that have opinions – more and more media outlets offer a platform for experts’ commentary on current affairs of technological developments.
Companies should not fear delivering their opinions on trending content. We now live in a ‘Post Truth’ world. A world where opinion discourse is the opening gambit for any marketing communications salvo. A 2016 study by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute that has found that 59 percent of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked, meaning that most people who share news on social media aren’t actually reading it first. A quote from the report says, “People are more willing to share an article than read it. This is typical of modern information consumption. People form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper.”
In other words, content crafted to elicit feeling become the first level of communication aimed at establishing dialog. Facts are now the foundation that back up our feelings. With guidance and great content companies can engage with customers through their own media platforms (web, blogs etc) and not only lead conversations and engagement but profit it through it too.
Krowne is here to help.