We’re no longer wowed…

Excited about technology

Marketers can no longer expect this reaction to every new tech product

In my thirty-odd years of involvement with technology, my favourite acronym remains TWAIN. In an industry so littered with acronyms, that’s some achievement. You may well recognise it if you’ve ever used a scanner hooked up to your computer – changes are that you’ll have been told you’re using a TWAIN driver. To my continued amusement (so I’m puerile, sue me) it stands for Technology Without An Interesting Name.

However, this is about as interesting as technology gets these days. We’re no longer wowed by operating systems or ooh-aahed by CPUs (if many of us ever were). We tend to get excited about iPhone apps or new smartphones, but we don’t actually tend to spend hours poring over hardcore technology – we want it to do what it says on the box, simply and consistently. And beyond that, we don’t actually want to invest a huge amount of energy or emotional commitment into the technology we use – unless, say, we run data centres as a day job.

Alongside this change in consumer attitudes to technology comes a series of changes in the way in which people inform themselves of new things. That information flow, which used to take place across magazine pages or at exhibitions, now takes place online 24/7. The technology publishing market, once artificially inflated compared to the publishing seen in other vertical market sectors, has shrunk to virtually a handful of titles.

This commoditisation of technology is something of a challenge for the marketers tasked with trying to make it relevant to all of us. We don’t care about it most of the time and we’ll serve ourselves with the information we need from online resources when it comes to decision time. There are all too few publications that reach consumers – and broader business titles, say, tend not to buy technology stories.

What’s the solution?
Companies that are recognising that their technology isn’t perhaps the most important thing in the world to their customers are coming up trumps. In recognising this, they are able to take a realistic approach to what is important to customers and how they map to those priorities, provide content that is relevant to consumers and position themselves appropriately within that content. By maintaining an ongoing relationship that is based on providing content that customers actually want (as opposed to just saying whatever you’re doing is what customers want) and also by being ‘valued members’ of communities, these companies are standing in the wings when customers actually do say ‘I’m interested in you today.’ It’s a sea-change for marketers used to buying the right to access customers with dollars – increasingly they’re having to use a different currency.

This piece originally appeared as one of the chucklesomely named ‘A Moment with McNabb’ columns in Campaign Middle East magazine.

 

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Alexander McNabb

About the Author ()

Alexander McNabb has been part of the Middle East’s media and marketing scene for 30 years. He’s a communicator, speaker, moderator, workshop leader, radio presenter, blogger, author, swimmer, rider, photographer, cook and even finds time to help companies with their communications.

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