I have just returned from Moscow, where I attended Sviaz-Expocomm’2012, the 24nd International Exhibition for Telecommunications, Control Systems, IT and Communication Services. There was a lot to see – impressive stands, new technology, gadgets, etc. The show was dominated by Russian and Chinese exhibitors in equal measure and I have talked to some of them about the difficulties they face breaking into a new market. It seems that the language barriers seem to be the biggest problem, yes, even in the age of Google Translate. Majority of Chinese companies did not have Russian speakers, which made it hard to communicate with visitors and potential partners, whereas Russian companies rarely have their marketing materials translated into English. This appears to be a tendency among IT companies, especially in Russia – you will rarely find a website which is fully translated into English, and the English version is tailored to a particular market. Approaching marketing communications companies, specialising in the market they are interested in, and creating a full suite of marketing materials designed for that market, can dramatically increase technology company’s chances.
This month, since we are dedicated to Geek Chic, it seems that one weakness continuously plagues IT companies – lack of visual representation. There were so many exciting solutions presented at the exhibition, but because they lacked visuals, the visitors were not drawn to the stand.
Now, about those gadgets. I love mobile power units presented by Powerocks:
There are many different version and they all look great! Have to have one. Also, various Chinese companies presented interesting mobile solutions and new generation smartphones – there were so many, you wouldn’t know where to look! Several solution for managing a smarthouse were offered by Russian companies and were interesting too, albeit it could have been presented much better.
Brilliant article on a BBC site today discusses how visualisation tools can help us deal with information overload. Research shows that we are, in fact, very pictorial in our perception of the data, and using available visualisation tools can help get the message across. For technology companies, in particular, the tools can help make their websites and other marketing materials more accessible, which in turn will lead to acquiring more clients – after all, people need to understand your products and solutions. Uniqa Consulting produces infographics for our clients, and we featured them on this blog earlier this month. However, using visualisation tools does not need to be time consuming or expensive, if your budget does not allow you to splash out. For example, online tool Wordle takes seconds to create clouds based on text or RSS feed, and here is one representing that BBC article:
The cloud can be randomised, colours customised, and there are other similar tools that can help you create the same. Or, as we did mention before on this blog, visual.ly now offers online tools allowing you creating infographics on the fly, based on Facebook usage or Twitter hashtag.
More importantly, you need to create a culture within your company, where creative tools are become first choice for presenting information. Using mindmapping software, such as MindJet, could be a first step. Again, if budget is an issue, there are free shareware options available. Once you start educating your employees, and yourself act as an ambassador for visualisation, this culture will soon spread throughout your organisation, increasing your productivity, and – which is vital for your clients – avoiding IT-speak. Picture this.
Infographics have become one of the best way to demonstrate data, however surprisingly few IT companies are using them. Uniqa Consulting produced a series of infographics for ARGUS Software, illustrating the issues in real estate industry and how ARGUS Software solutions can solve them. You can see the whole set on visual.ly. Two infographics were selected for visual.ly homepage:
After talking about pinstripes for the whole of last month, we dedicate this month to the Geek Chic – technology companies. One of the main marketing challenges for technology companies is not so much differentiating themselves, like in the case of the pinstripes (see our blog entries for April), but in implementation. When an IT company is implementing a platform for their client, for example, SharePoint, they tend to rely on client’s internal communications department to deal with the rollout. Practice shows that corpcomms usually do not have enough resources to develop a comprehensive internal communications plan for the rollout, apart from blast emails, and as a result, once the platform is rolled out, there is very little support for it from the end user. This could be seriously damaging for the IT company’s reputation. The good strategy to deal with it would be for the technology company to start implementation with their own marketing specialist, on in partnership with a marketing agency, who would start user engagement from the very beginning of the project – looking at user groups, their needs and their involvement, and organising communication strategy around it. This would ensure success of the project and would not damage the reputation and brand of the technology company.