Drives, motors, chips, semiconductors, power supplies… the devices and applications that exist outside the shiny sphere of consumer technology are of limited interest to most people. Deep tech is not sexy, it is rarely visible, and unless it’s your bread and butter, of limited interest. That’s why the scope of a specialist technical B2B communications agency is small, budgets are tight and building awareness of new technologies often hard work.
Today the reality is very different. This is highlighted in B2B Marketing’s recently released UK Agencies Benchmarking Report 2019, which sports what ten years ago would’ve looked like a huge anomaly: a deep-tech agency in the Top Ten. Incidentally, by “deep-tech”, we mean an agency that has engineers in its management team and really understands the engineering mindset. That’s not the same as understanding how a consumer technology enthusiast might think or act. Far from it.
So what has changed? Looking back, for years the landscape where specialist technical marketing agencies have traditionally laboured has been more limited, the audience more defined and cross-sectoral interest harder to kindle. Budgets have not been enormous, with communication strategies often highly targeted to reach a small number of people with existing, specific interests. This might have kept tech communications as a small expert sector, a minority in the B2B space, but the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) changed everything.
IHS Markit estimates that the number of connected devices is set to reach 125 billion in 2030, from 27 billion in 2017. This exponential growth is fuelled by the unlimited potential that connectivity can offer in a constantly widening range of applications across many industries: the desire to streamline processes, cut costs, increase productivity and optimise efficiency is universal. As IoT creeps higher up on the business agenda, the interest surrounding it continues to soar. From smart manufacturing to intelligent farming, connected homes to driverless cars, IoT is everywhere, in every industry and technology, and the world struggles to make sense of that.
Luckily, this is exactly where specialist Deep Tech B2B agencies are right at home.
Understanding the engineer
The growing focus on IoT, connectivity and adding intelligence to previously unconnected technologies creates an interesting sweet spot for specialist deep-tech B2B marketing agencies. There is a desperate need for marketing and PR specialists that are comfortable with these new concepts, understand how they fit in the bigger picture and are able to identify the pain points on a customer journey that is highly specialised and technical. In short, to communicate with engineers, you need to have an understanding of the engineering mindset, where their industry has been and where it is headed. And that is not gained overnight.
Having worked with technology companies before, during and after IoT, Industry 4.0 and other such concepts were introduced, deep-tech agencies are ideally placed to take charge. You can’t downplay the benefits of decades of experience of working with technical clients, nor can you easily replicate it. It takes a deeper understanding of the industry, built working with a wide range of technical companies of different size, focus sector and geographic location, to gain the confidence that is needed to create successful communications strategies in the evolving tech landscape.
Understanding the markets
Now is the time for deep-tech brands to engage with those agencies who have a genuine understanding. A genuine tech agency knows not just the technology that everybody is talking about, but also the audience and what it takes to reach them. Engineers, CEOs, distributors… when it comes to new technologies, these people are all on the same journey, but not necessarily talking the same language. That’s why it is crucial that the agency is able to identify the pain points, tailor its approach and address each one in a language that they understand. This is especially true when developing communications campaigns with a global reach. While technology is universal, the market might be at a different level of readiness, which can create variations in customer pain points on an otherwise similar journey. The way the target audience consumes information can also make a huge difference globally, which means one-size-fits-all strategies are hard to apply when it comes to tech: a communications strategy that will be spot on for a British engineer could leave his or her German counterpart cold.
But this is something a specialist deep-tech agency would know, and take into account.
From the sidelines to the spotlight
Technology is becoming more mainstream, more intelligent and more accessible. It is time for tech communications and PR to do the same and step out of the marginal. The groundwork the specialist agencies have been laying for years is now paying off. The rest of the world has finally caught up with what deep-tech companies, and deep-tech communications teams, have known all along: the future is dominated by technology, but a lot of the success of the new technologies depends on the way they are communicated to the key audiences.
There is a lot of work to do, but the deep tech agencies are ready to take on the challenge. For them, this is nothing new, this is what they know and like best. And as the UK Agencies Benchmarking Report 2019 proves, this is already reflected in their success.