What Social Distancing Teaches B2B Tech Companies…It’s Not What You Think

This isn’t another work from home article.

States and counties across the nation are ordering residents to “shelter in place” or “stay at home” in an effort to stifle the spread of COVID-19. How did it get this bad?

Blame social distancing.

I’ll admit, prior to the madness of COVID-19, I hadn’t heard of the term “social distancing.” It only entered my orbit when my husband informed me that his office was preparing to social distance. From my vantagepoint on my marketing high-horse, I found the unfamiliar term laughable. Chalking up the now ubiquitous words as internal communication jargon at its worst. When in reality, it had come from public health officials, not an overzealous communicator.

When Buzzwords Fail

Social distancing as a term was doomed to fail from day one. It was never specific or familiar enough to galvanize change to protect our society.

Now that time has elapsed and the virus has spread, many leaders have shifted to using the term “physical distancing” to clarify their orders. Unfortunately, it’s too little, too late. We’re already seeing the effects of poor communication, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find a silver lining.

What Does It All Mean for B2B Tech Companies?

For B2B tech companies, the lessons of social distancing come at the perfect time. In a community overrun by buzzwords like artificial intelligence and Internet of Things, marketing copy is making our customers’ and prospects’ eyes glaze over–and keeping businesses from reaching their full potentials.

Well-meaning people write content stuffed with buzzwords because it is perceived as how technology companies communicate. Often citing that customers “want to see the words artificial intelligence.” And maybe a little of that is true, but even more, they want to know what difference your product or service will make on their businesses.

Take for example this actual website banner copy (company name removed):

“Delivering Customer-Focused Results Through Technology Innovation

[Company] is a leading communications solutions provider focused on identifying the specialized needs of our customers to deliver advanced technology solutions that produce positive business outcomes.”

There are 32 words on that banner, but the content says almost nothing. What are the results? And, what technology do they even deliver?

As a customer, if you landed on this website, what would you do? Would it excite you to learn more or make you feel at ease that you found a competent company to help? Probably not. You would be among the visitors that contribute to their high bounce rate.

Similarly to the ineffective term “social distancing ,” the company hasn’t supplied the language necessary to move people through the desired actions. In this case, it would be to continue further into the website and sales funnel.

Save Your Marketing Copy Before It’s Too Late

What would have happened if our leaders communicated the concept of social distancing in a manner that was specific and actionable—would we be in a different situation? Perhaps. But now all we can do is make the best of a bad situation. And that applies to B2B marketing as well.

Many companies are having to revisit 2020 marketing plans to eliminate in-person events and shift budgets. As those conversations are underway, content is one area that deserves investment and course correction before it’s too late.

To help guide you, begin with these tips:

  • Don’t rely on technical terms because it doesn’t always translate to broader audiences.
  • If you need to use a buzzword, be sure to expand on exactly what the term means in practice (show, don’t tell).
  • Even if everyone else is using the term, you don’t have to be the next “me too.” Someone had to be the first person to use the phrase “physical distancing.” It wasn’t just another buzzword, but instead, it was an improvement on the status quo.

Perspective is everything. Maybe you already knew that you shouldn’t be using buzzwords or you had planned on creating marketing content specific to your various audiences. Thanks to social distancing you now know the importance of acting on those thoughts and plans as you witness the effects of vague language all from the comfort of your own home.

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Author: Lea Rabinowitz

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