This article was co-authored by Phillip Levinson and Marc Ladin.

What are the rules to effective technology marketing?

Ask 20 experts, and you might get 20 different answers. Or, in the case of this Docurated article, you may end up with 33 different responses.

As 2016 comes to a close – given the complexity of today’s companies, products and the variety of prospective marketing tactics – we’ve heard many of these suggested rules. Here, we’ve boiled it down to our top seven pieces of advice gleaned from tech marketing experts.

Rule #1: Own Your Personality: Decide on your company’s and product’s personality based on your core value proposition – and then embrace it

Jason Lemkin, SaaStr VC, Editor and Former Founder of EchoSign, brought this idea home with a discussion on the development of an early Mini-Brand:

“What a Mini-Brand is, is when at least a handful of folks in your core, target customer audience begin to hear about you…From there, you’ll accelerate, if only slowly at first.”

“And that’s when the next bit of magic starts,” added Lemkin.

Rule #2: Be Concrete: Concrete always beats Concept in the market

In the book, Made to Stick, the Heath Brothers delve into the importance of having clarity in your business ideas and goals, pointing out that not having concrete ideas is where so many business communications have gone awry. And the more important the idea, the clearer it must be.

There’s a reason why JFK’s stated goal was, “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” It’s also why Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff all have very specific, cloud-based revenue goals. They know concrete is better.

Rule #3: Be Fast: Flexibility, innovation and speed will win out every time

As Tom Wujec illustrated in his popular TED talk, there’s a reason why young children always beat expert adult groups in the Marshmallow Challenge: they spend more time experimenting, prototyping and implementing – and a lot less time talking and planning.

Can you relate to the latter? Then your company should consider following the children’s lead.

Rule #4: Make Better & Easier-to-Try Products: Consider bottom-up marketing, which requires this

Easy-to-try products mean that there are very low costs for testing and using them. Why is this important? Within enterprise marketing, for example, below-the-line influencers make initial using and buying decisions, which eventually motivate those executives with above-the-line budget authority.

“The bottom-up approach involves reaching below-the-line influencers. Many of today’s B2B products sold into the enterprise are growing quite well by staying primarily below the line,” said Mark Lorian, CMO, Apperian.

Rule #5: Communicate One Thing at a Time: Don’t try to communicate lots of things to lots of targets

Don’t fall prey to the ‘Curse of Knowledge,’ which the Heath brothers explain as companies over-communicating their solutions to consumers based on “enormous information imbalances.”

With so much information at our fingertips, it’s hard to choose what to say at any given moment, but remember to stick to one core message for one segment at a time. As Ken Rosen, CMO of Nexsan said: “Talk to someone (or just one person). If you try to talk to everyone, you usually connect with no one.”

Rule #6: Emphasize Informing, Not Selling: Marketing is increasingly about providing relevant and timely information

“Early on, Gainsight invested heavily in content marketing, thought leadership, and educating the market on ‘customer success,’” said Anthony Kennada, VP of Marketing, Gainsight.

With more sophisticated and cynical buyers today, this content marketing and informative emphasis is an effective strategy for winning the hearts of your consumers by providing value first.

Rule #7: Eliminate Marketing-Product-Sales Gaps

Spend just as much time with your product team as you do with your sales and customer team—a lot. Tech companies suffer when the frontline sales team faces competitive or marketplace challenges that are not communicated effectively to – or received effectively by – the marketing and product teams. Develop processes to break down silos and make sure this does not happen at your company in order to proactively fix problems before they arise.

But here’s a hurdle: many companies stall out because of challenges surrounding Rule #7.

It’s commonplace in many sectors: tech-focused companies often face their biggest challenges around the marketing group and its connections with other parts of the organization.

Lemkin described an example of this when talking about a challenge brands have with scaling. In short, emerging companies or product launches frequently experience a sales growth plateau, creating a stagnation potentially stemming from product deficiencies. He explains that these products are used and liked but neither loved nor aggressively promoted by customers, as determined by NPS (Net Promoter Score) and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) numbers.

“These companies’ products…aren’t beloved products. They all have low NPS…The customers use the product because they have to. Not because they love to,” said Lemkin.

This is a problem – one that will definitely affect your company’s or product’s growth in the mid-to-long run. So, how to overcome the hurdle?

First, as your company or product gains marketplace traction, measure your NPS and CSAT numbers religiously. Then, be sure your marketing, sales, product and customer teams are working together seamlessly to improve these measures over time.

Second, never lose sight of Rule #7.


Philip Levinson, Vice President, Sapphire VenturesLevinson is a Vice President at Sapphire Ventures (affiliated with SAP) and previously served as VP of Sales for WaterSmart Software. Some of his previous Business Insider pieces focused on Uber, Cloudflare and Nike. You can follow Phil on Twitter here


Marc Ladin, CMO, CallFire

Ladin is CMO of CallFire and previously served as CMO for enterprise start-ups TigerText and Everbridge. You can follow Marc on Twitter here.