It’s no longer enough for technology brands to be a challenger or market leader – to succeed today you also need to lead thinking. The great irony of the technology world, where the thrill of the new is what drives us, is that marketing content is often more laggard than leading.
Gartner’s Hype Cycle is a perennial reminder of the way tech brands cluster around the topic of the day. The result is initial excitement from tech buyers, then confusion because of the number of voices saying similar things, and finally disillusionment, before a more grounded picture of reality emerges.
We think this tendency to hype technologies to the nth degree stems from a developing creative fog in tech marketing. We interviewed technology and telecoms marketers to find out what is driving this.
One CMO succinctly summed up what we found, stating that “We’ve hit the wall”, when referring to generating new marketing ideas. While the technology industry is clearly the home of product and software innovation, marketing is facing a crisis of creativity. In fact, the majority of tech marketers (88%) said their organisations struggle to articulate interesting ideas.
The trouble is that these big ideas are now absolutely critical to marketing and business success. Nearly all (95%) of the marketers we spoke to told us that ideas are now the most effective tool to help them differentiate from their competitors - and differentiation means revenue.
From early adopting CIOs to hard to reach CEOs, we now want to be as excited by the marketing as we are by the complex products and services on offer. Likewise big ideas help tech vendors speak the language of senior business buyers, rather than just speaking to technical influencers. But many are struggling to come up with the goods.
Our interviews identified three common drivers of this creative crisis:
1. Moving from activation to origination: CMOs are trying to move their teams from activation, where products and services almost speak for themselves, to origination, where they need to sell the ‘big idea’. As one CMO noted: “We used to just promote the product, now we have to create the big idea.” This is a mindset shift that requires marketers to think less about what their product/service does and more about what it enables and how this can be effectively brought to life.
2. Becoming a thinking business: While the marketing department is often a bastion of creative thinkers, experts in the business can often struggle to articulate ideas beyond the product or dedicate enough time to doing so. This is where marketers need to carefully pick their ideas superstars and use them to convey their organisation’s best thinking; putting in place the incentives to guarantee their valuable time.
3. Falling back on marketing teams to create thought-leading ideas: Marketers are increasingly becoming doers rather than thinkers, simply lacking the time to look up from intense lead generation activity to think big. Our research finds that most marketers now struggle to dedicate enough time to creative and strategic thinking. This is a challenge that needs to be addressed at both marketing team and leadership level to get the very best ideas to market.
The good news is that marketers have recognised the need for ideas-led selling and are diverting more resources to it. The majority (89%) of marketers tell us that creative content based on a compelling ideas is now their most effective sales tool.
It’s our mission to help B2B tech marketers regain their creative crowns and come up with ideas and campaigns that truly move mountains for their organisations. That’s why we’re launching our Creative Challenge: just send us a concise marketing or PR challenge that is keeping you awake at night and we’ll come back to you to present our best creative solution.
Toby is Head of Technology at Man Bites Dog