Gaining the trust of an engineering audience is no easy task. They easily smell the difference between material generated by marketing compared to that produced by your tech team. But if you’ve spent hours and dollars carefully honing your brand and image, it is difficult to let that go just to appease a technical audience.
To win over a technical audience, you need to gain their trust, and the people they trust most are other engineers. Companies like National Semiconductor had Bob Pease with his articles titled “What’s All This [insert topic here], Anyhow?”. Gene Frantz, inextricably linked with the Texas Instruments’ Speak’n’Spell and their DSPs, would attract a crowd at every industry event. And Linear Technology sends Mike Engelhardt, the LTSpice Guru, on world tours that put most rock bands to shame.
Of course, not everyone has an industry-respected specialist on the team. So, how can you bridge the gap? One way is to invent a new persona that personifies the representative you’d like to have. For example, Atmel (now Microchip) had AVR Man  to promote their 8-bit microcontrollers. A persona offers several advantages for your marketing team:
- Many individuals can contribute to the output
- The persona can operate more freely, outside of your normal branding constraints
- Staff come, staff go, but your persona can continue to contribute
Here at iSYSTEM, like at many technology firms, it is important that the technical data is precise, correct and accurate. Building upon a history of “Enabling Safer Embedded Systems”, there is no room for light-hearted exchanges that could be misconstrued – one of the disadvantages of text-based digital communication. But based upon years of work at the coal-face with development engineers and interactions at exhibitions, it was clear that a more light-hearted communication channel could be beneficial to win over the techies. With software developers continuously at battle to reduce the number of bugs in their code, a ‘BugHunter’, a pith-helmet-wearing hunter, seemed to offer the right mix of relevance, kindred spirit and fun.
With around a year in the market, BugHunter has proven to be a valuable asset to our marketing mix. The BugHunter Blog provides long-form posts showing how technical challenges can be tackled. And, just to prove the value, I even dressed up as the BugHunter for the Embedded World 2017 show in Nürnberg, Germany (photo below with Rebecca Geier, CEO of TREW Marketing). The resonance was overwhelming and we even managed to stop and converse with visitors who freely admitted that, had BugHunter not been there, they would have readily walked right past our stand.
Rebecca and I at Embedded World 2017 in Nürnberg, Germany
Getting the marketing right, so that every member of your customer’s decision-making process finds material that picks them up and brings them closer to deciding for your solution, is a difficult task. A fictional persona, when well-implemented, can deliver the differentiated marketing messaging required to convince decision makers that do not respond the corset-bound corporate branding. And, by being independent of any one person, the persona can grow, develop and adapt to meet your changing needs, when and if required.
Stuart Cording is the Technical Marketing Manager at iSYSTEM AG, an embedded software tools provider in Germany. Prior to joining iSYSTEM, he served in previous technical marketing, sales and engineering roles at leading semiconductor companies including Atmel, Microchip, Texas Instruments and National Semiconductor.