I had no idea what they were talking about.
The document was full of every conceivable buzzword, from deployment and integration to a half-dozen technologies and smart this-or-that, along with a few very impressive acronyms. All I could gather was that they were going to leverage something important that related to something that was also important.
I needed a translator.
It wasn’t an uncommon feeling (me with my hands in the air, that is); my firm specializes in helping B2B companies take their messaging to broader audiences, and our experiences are constant reminders of why that communication doesn’t just happen by itself.
B2B marcom is usually directed at informed audiences of engineers, technologists, and the procurement people who trade in the widgets, gizmos, and basic resources upon which modern civilization is built and relies.
References to stalagmite infusion and flux capacitors have inherent meaning to the select few who know of what they reference, but mentions of real-world trends and implications are almost perfunctory because those audiences already know it (duh). No explanations of how the former connect to the latter are required when the audience already knows them.
No wonder everyone else thinks lone entrepreneurs and tech startups are going to reinvent everything. They’ve not been told otherwise.
Those entities, just like B2C brands, start with communicating the very things B2B companies take for granted…and spell out what something will do in the world, how difficult it’ll be to invent, the ways it’ll impact people and why it’ll matter.
It’s even bigger than that: Successful companies overall communicate beyond their informed audiences to achieve not only recognition but understanding and endorsement from people who will influence actual purchase of their products or services.
And it turns out that those informed buyers consume the same media that all of those uniformed folks enjoy, too.
There are many examples. I guarantee that you’re heard more about the innovation happening at Waymo, Apple, even Uber than you have about work underway at all of the established carmakers put together. It’s why SpaceX (and, to much lesser degree, Blue Origin) own awareness on space technology instead of Boeing and its consortium partners.
It’s why companies founded by inspired novices in garages get more media coverage than the leaders in the industries they fantasize about disrupting once they have products that they can actually sell.
And it’s why their their businesses are valued so highly while publicly-listed established B2Bs get beat-up every quarter: Results are backward-looking, by definition, and no amount of CEO flourish can make up for the fact that there’s no vision evidenced in underlying business news that is decipherable to only the very few.
They need translation services so that their informed content is made accessible to the rest of us. There’s an easy way to do it, too.
B2B marketing communicators should challenge themselves to reimagine the most obtusely complicated technical news as if they had to explain it to a friend who is an artist, or distill it into a headline that would run in a daily newspaper, not on a website dedicated to running details on flux capacitors.
Think lots of readers, listeners, or viewers, not just the few dozen who are smart enough to translate what you’re talking about.
B2B innovation deserves more recognition, and those accomplishments more valuation.
Or at least I think they do, since sometimes I have no idea what they’re talking about.