The Wizard of Oz and B2B Technology Marketing

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We don’t think about it much, but most people don’t care about how something works as long as it does what they want and works when it is supposed to.

Very few people actually understand the internal combustion engine, but we drive daily. The modern world lives on its cell phones, but how many people do you know who can tell you how wireless telephony works?

Increasingly, our lives are built around the ability to turn intangible scientific and engineering principles into tangible goods. We depend on them, and we are incredibly frustrated when they don’t work. We don’t care how they work. They just should.

Consumer marketers understand this. They never try to explain, for example, how the Android works. They describe features, how quickly it accesses information, and all the cool things a consumer can do with it. Further, it seems as though just about every business out there has an app you can download to access their products and services and make your life easier and more fun. How is the app powered? What is the technology behind it? Who cares?

But in business-to-business marketing, we take great pains to explain our technologies, the technical advantages of our products, the most detailed specifications. Oh, sure, we describe our products’ uses, how they can make our business customers more efficient, more productive, more profitable. But in far too many cases, these attributes are buried within the technical jargon and discussions of our technical wizardry. So, unless the business buyer is another techie or a technological junkie, he often loses what should be the key point: Technology to the side, why should he buy the product?

Obviously, I am over-stating the case for effect. But not by all that much.

In B2B marketing, particularly with smaller firms justifiably proud of their technological innovations, there is a tendency to forget that the typical business buyer doesn’t really care how the products achieve their magic. Have spec’s available, by all means; but do not lead with them.
For the buyer, it’s the magic – the results – that matter. It is the results for them – for the buyers and their businesses – that they are buying.

In the Wizard of Oz, the Tin Man got his brain. The Scarecrow got his heart. The Lion got courage. Dorothy went home to Auntie Em. No one cares what was behind the curtain or how the Wizard accomplished it. The fact is that he did. And everyone in the audience smiles.

Practical Marketing Rule # 3: Do not burden the customer with information he doesn’t want – no matter how interesting or important you think it is.

Emily R. Coleman
Dr. Emily R. Coleman is President of Competitive Advantage Marketing, Inc., a firm that specializes in helping companies expand their reach and revenues through strategy and implementation. Dr. Coleman has more than 30 years of hands-on executive management experience working with companies, from Fortune 500 firms to entrepreneurial enterprises. Dr. Coleman's expertise extends from the integration of corporate-wide marketing operations and communications to the development and implementation of strategy into product development and branding.

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