Five ways high-growth tech firms are adapting their comms strategies in the wake of the pandemic

Read on for learnings from our recent webinar on ‘Evolved storytelling for high-growth tech brands’, as part of our Brands Transforming Our World autumn webinar series.

In what has been a hugely challenging year, there have been pockets of optimism and growth in the tech sector, which has been more resilient to the impact of the global pandemic than other industries. Many of us took our laptops home in March, setting them up in our living rooms and kitchens and have been working from these makeshift offices ever since. As a result, we’ve seen a huge surge in interest for digital platforms and collaborative tools like Slack and Mirro. Similarly, the virtual events space has exploded this year, with British firm, Hopin, recently securing a $2bn valuation just one year after launch.

But while investment in the sector hasn’t slowed, the impact of the crisis has still most certainly been felt by tech professionals. This is particularly the case for those working in media and comms roles who have had to adapt their strategies and find new ways to get close to customers, prospects, and investors. And while the shift to digital can be more cost effective and enable more targeted approaches than physical events, it can be more difficult to capture and maintain audience attention. You must be compelling 100% of the time while battling multiple screens and the distractions of working from home.

These were just some of the musings from a fantastic line-up of panellists on our recent webinar that looked at how tech brands are adapting their storytelling to stay topical, relevant and above all, trustworthy.

In case you missed it, you can access the recording here or below:

André Labadie, MD, Business & Technology at Brands2Life was joined by:

  • Maija Palmer – Innovation Editor, Sifted
  • Gary Brotman – Vice President of Product & Marketing, Secondmind
  • Angela O’Connell – Vice President of Marketing, Onfido
  • Angélica Reyes – Head of Marketing Europe & UK, Freshworks

Here are the key takeaways from the session:

1. Replicate face-to-face interactions so we don’t lose vital water cooler moments

Gary Brotman remarked that for many businesses – particularly those who are early stage – face-to-face interaction is key to developing strong customer relationships. And when we switched to digital channels over physical, it became more challenging to find those avenues to connect. No longer able to build relations over coffee, we need to put more effort into communication strategies that enable us to stay top of prospects’ and clients’ minds.

Maija Palmer agreed, commenting that many investors cite personal interaction as critical to working out whether they can potentially invest millions in new business ventures. Angela O’Connell added the fact that chance conversations that often occur in office kitchens or corridors typically accelerate project approvals or executions, and without those, we’re having to find new ways to communicate with our colleagues. Social media platforms can be a great way to remain “digitally present”, as Maija put it, and being more active on these channels ensures you’re not missing out on those water cooler conversations that often taken place at physical events or workplaces.

2. Don’t force ‘tech for good’ stories into your storytelling for the sake of it

When the pandemic first hit in early spring, many brands turned their attention to finding ways to help – whether that was offering free software, training, or developing new products and services to combat the virus. And these offers got great traction in the press. This appetite for more purposeful stories has been steadily growing, and while the public will remember those businesses that got this right during the height of the pandemic, the panellists agreed that any offer of support should be genuine, and not just to better the brand’s image or reputation. Instead, brands should focus their messaging on what they are good at, where they can be different, and where they can have a real impact to stand out in what is already a very crowded market.

3. Be mindful of your brand perception in the markets in which you are conducting business

With growing suspicion of the tech giants and greater support for local businesses through the pandemic, there was some debate over whether brands should adapt their storytelling to appear more global or stick to their roots and be more vocal about their origins. Maija argued that Europe has a burgeoning tech scene and success stories to come out of the likes of Cambridge, Bucharest, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm should be celebrated. While the other panellists agreed that they were proud of their heritage, Gary remarked that it’s important to not lose sight of the customers or investors you’re looking to attract, if they operate in a different market to your origin. In certain contexts, there are perceptions in terms of quality, capability of talent and support that need to be addressed. To operate successfully in different regions, brands need to adapt their messaging to respect regional nuances and ensure local relevance.

4. Experiment with elements of playfulness and fun – if brand appropriate!

There was lots of discussion around how to capture your audience’s attention when they’re being invited to virtual events left, right and centre. Angélica Reyes argued that it’s about finding out how your customers and prospects like to consume content as individuals and tapping into those channels. Content that’s more entertaining and fun, such as virtual wine tasting, as Angela noted, can provide light relief from the onslaught of heavy whitepapers and online events they’re being targeted with on a daily basis. And if there’s ever been a year when people need a bit fun, it’s been 2020! So, finding more opportunity to engage with customers and prospects in a more playful way will likely be welcomed. That said, it’s important to strike a balance between sharing content that’s more accessible and digestible but also appropriate for the brand.

5. Imitate child’s play to get closer to your connections

Sticking with the theme of play, should we take learnings from how our children have adapted to the new normal to get to know our contacts better? Maija argued that we should. With many kids turning to video games to hang out with their friends virtually through the lockdowns, what could we learn about our business connections through role play? We’d learn if we could rely on them in a crisis and how quick thinking they are, for instance. While not suggesting we all take up Fortnite to build deeper relationships with our contacts, Maija predicted that we could use immersive, digital experiences more frequently in the future to get to know people better in business contexts.

The full discussion is available to view here, but my key takeaway was that while 2020 has been a year like no other, technology has provided us with a plethora of ways to adapt our ways of working, communicating and collaborating with others rapidly; and for that reason, it’s an industry that has shown great resilience and even growth through this time. If you’re one of the businesses in that space and want to know more about how to adapt your comms strategy as you grow, we’d love to help tell your story.

Written by Rachael Knock, Practice Director, Business & Technology.

To watch more of Brands2Life’s webinars on demand and to see what’s coming up next visit our webinar series site.