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    Education, education, education: Why technology companies could drive a greater uptake of their automated tools with less marketing and more mentoring

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    The rate at which technological innovations have evolved and developed over the last 20 years has been spectacular, if not at times a little dizzying. Solutions available today are delivering levels of functionality and capability which are completely transforming traditional job roles, and indeed, entire sectors and industries.

    Such is the transformational power of next-generation technologies that it is all the more curious that many organisations remain reticent towards their adoption. Fintech disrupters, AccessPay, recently commissioned research into the decline in reliance on the traditional spreadsheet in favour of automated alternatives. The data revealed that software, capable of delivering critical functions such as real-time cashflow visibility, are not being deployed within around half of organisations’ Treasury teams.

    It’s a trend with few beneficiaries. Organisations resisting the implementation of next-generation solutions suffer from the lack of access to enhanced functionality and capability, and the tech companies themselves from inhibited sales. Even the long-standing marketing offensives many tech companies have embarked on have not harvested the returns they perhaps might have expected. It begs the question; why does this resistance that so many organisations display towards new technologies persist? The answer though, may actually be quite straightforward.

     

    Education

    As an example that most people can relate to on some level, let’s consider for a moment the graphic design and photograph editing tool, Photoshop. Examples of the capability of Photoshop are everywhere, from funny and exciting pictures online that people have altered, to fashion magazines, where normal models are digitally doctored to the point they appear utterly, unrealistically flawless. We are shown what the tool can do, we might even be offered free trials, but those who then purchase the software quickly realise that it is rather more complex and multi-featured than they might have imagined, and mastery of it in fact requires significant time and concentration. With guidance only really coming from a library of online videos, each assuming differing levels of expertise, users often become frustrated and before long, frustration turns to apathy.

    The same, it can be argued, is true for automated software. Business leaders are shown what the various innovations can achieve. They might even be allowed to temporarily try them out for free, but in the absence of real, hands-on, and intimate education, they might never truly appreciate how they can transform their daily operations and commit to further purchases.

     

    From techy to teacher

    “Freedom lies in being bold.” So American poet Robert Frost famously declared. Shifting focus and resources from marketing and advertising campaigns, to an approach more targeted and interactive is certainly a bold move, but in order to ramp up the uptake of automated technologies, something has to give.

    Certainly, tech companies will need to plan carefully how they deliver a programme of education for their various products, but if they get it right, not only can the results be compelling, but they will join a growing collective of businesses who are realising the power of education as a marketing tool.

     

    Educational devices

    In terms of educating new and prospective customers, tech companies have a variety of existing and proven devices to choose from which can be used effectively in isolation and more so in combination.

    Webinars – The beauty of webinars, is that they’re easy to organise and deliver, and providing the content is made accessible and relevant to participants, they can be hugely successful. They can be designed to incorporate instructional graphics and videos and be configured to be interactive so participants can ask questions.

    Demonstration days – A powerful means of showcasing a product’s capability is by inviting prospects to events where they can no only hear and see how the product can benefit their job role but experience how it can as well. Setting up simulated work stations allows prospects to complete tasks using the software so they can experience first hand the difference it can make.

    Onsite mentors – Often, once a company commits to the purchase of a piece of software, aftercare support comes in the form of a telephone number and/or links to videos and other online content. After the initial implementation period, human contact is invariably remote. A logistically tricky but potent alternative is to deploy technicians to purchasing companies for some time after implementation. That way, any issues are instantly dealt with, as questions are answered and deeper learning opportunities are explored. It is a service hugely appreciated by customers and prevents minor issues developing into serious complaints.

    Regular, varied content – Providing customers and prospects with a steady stream of content which seeks to educate instead of just sell, has the effect of performing the latter anyway. An educated customer, they say, is a buying customer. Through blogs, guides, whitepapers, videos, and infographics, ensure customers and prospects are in constant receipt of information that allow them to use your product more effectively. The more effectively they use it, the more likely they are to persist with it.

     

    Teaching is selling

    By providing an array of bespoke learning experiences for prospects and customers, you prevent both from having to fend for themselves in searches for quality information on your brand, products, or services. In becoming a one-stop shop for all learning opportunities, not only can you boost sales but you also begin to position your brand and your people as industry and product category authorities.

    Quicker short-term results might be possible with an aggressive advertising campaign, but if the long-term goal is the acquisition of sustainable, happy, high-value customers who share their positive experience with others, it might be worth swapping the billboard for the blackboard, so to speak.

    AUTHOR

    Anthony McNamara

    All stories by: Anthony McNamara