So, your technologists have developed a game-changing energy transition technology and your agency teams have drafted the promotional materials. Only thing is, they don’t “pop”. Somehow, although all the technical detail is there, they fail to resonate with the intended audience.
Maybe you’re aware that research1 has shown that most technology buyers read between three and five pieces of collateral before making a purchase, and that the most effective B2B marketing tactics are webinars, case studies and white papers. So you have every reason to want to fix your content, and fast.
You’re not alone. In the twenty or so years that we’ve been supporting the marketing teams at energy companies around the world, this is a challenge that we’ve heard regularly from prospective clients. However, recently we’ve been hearing it far more frequently, likely because decarbonisation (think scopes 1–3 emissions, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage) and sustainability (plastic circularity, chemical recycling and mass balance, among others) are not only highly complex topics, but also subject to rigorous scrutiny from your legal teams.
The good news is that, in our experience, there are usually numerous approaches that you can take to ensure your collateral speaks effectively to your customers.
Often, the root problem is the writer or marketing team’s lack of understanding of the technology. And that’s understandable, because you’re likely to be talking about highly sophisticated processes or catalysts that are part of a much larger value chain and whose key features and differentiators are rooted in state-of-the-art science.
Conversations with the technologists are key. Equally vital, however, is the skill of asking the right questions in those discussions. To ensure comprehension, the writer should ask the technologist to explain their technology in simple terms using plain, everyday language. They might also ask for analogies and real-world examples to help bring it to life. And it may also be necessary to involve your customer-facing teams to help articulate the value that the technology brings to your customers.
The writer might then explore creating graphics or other visuals to help tell the story, and for best results should co-create them with experienced design colleagues. Their creativity will often unlock a step change in the materials’ clarity. For example, we’ve found that, when talking about a technology that can be part of a much larger system, something like blue hydrogen or plastics circularity, it can be a challenge to communicate exactly what role it plays, and what the inputs and outputs are. But an animation, block scheme or other graphic can convey the bigger picture very effectively.
Another important point is that less is more. Your readers are time constrained, and they are deluged with content. They are unlikely to read every word, however finely crafted. There are many ways to mitigate this, but in line with the principle of prioritising conciseness, I will save those for another time.
Perhaps more importantly though, I also haven’t touched on who should be developing these materials. It is definitely not a good use of your technologists’ time, though having them spend 30 minutes with a science writer who asks the right questions could make all the difference.