If your company deals in high-dollar products or services it can be difficult to create content that speaks to the whole organization involved in the purchase decision.

You may have a champion in the client company. But that champion has to get buy-in from the finance folks, operations, marketing and who knows who else. If you have a white paper, sales sheet or other content that’s full of jargon, you may miss your target.

At Communication World 2013, I talked with communicators who work for companies that provide technical, big dollar capital equipment, software and professional services. The engineers want to talk to other engineers in their own special language, based on the concept that informed rationality is all that’s required. But that’s not true.

Every purchase, whether it’s software or industrial air cleaning equipment, involves some sort of emotion. It takes consensus to decide how to invest thousands or millions of company dollars.

Most often the most prevalent organizational emotion is fear. Fear of making a mistake, fear of dropping the ball. Often a company will choose to buy from the choice that’s the safest, not necessarily the best.

A few decades ago, the department where I worked needed new PCs to handle this cutting edge tool called desktop publishing. We knew Macs were the best choice at the time, but our IT group would not support them. Back then there were issues with integrating Macs into the network for printing and email. So we opted for IBM® PCs.

They worked fine for years. Our IBM rep said, “Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM.” He was right. Sometimes it’s easiest to make the safe choice rather than the best choice.

It’s up to the content creators to uncover the emotional hooks that will resonate through an organization. We have to show why your company is the safe choice.

That’s easy for Coca Cola® or Clorox®, they’ll say. But we’re not selling colored sugar water. We’re selling industrial pumps or ERP software or whatever. By golly, we can’t go with “I’d like to buy the world a MaxStar XRP-952/CM5.”

But maybe you can create emotion in your own way. Often the best way to get through the cloud of techno-speak is to keep asking “And, what’s that mean for the user?”

Essentially, we’re talking about features vs. benefits.

Dig past the list of features to get to the benefits for the user. Customers are looking for solutions, the answers to their problems. And they want to feel secure about the choice they made.



(Initially published October 2013)