Marketers of technical products find themselves communicating with some very sophisticated and very specialized audiences such as physicians, chemists, or engineers.

We face the challenge of understanding what to communicate to these individuals whose technical knowledge of the product may exceed our own. It is not always easy to identify what messages will resonate as smart, insightful, credible points about your product and company.

Here are three steps you can take to ensure your message connects:

1. Get to know your audience through research
I’m not necessarily suggesting an $80K research project, though sometimes that is warranted, but understanding the customer is critical to developing the right message.

Whether it’s a call with key clients, or a few members of the sales team or simply online research, you should develop a profile of your customer. The information you’re looking for isn’t just demographics (gender, income, education), but should focus on psychographics — how your customer thinks, feels and makes decisions, particularly regarding your product.

With technical products it’s easy to get caught up in the science and innovation, but before you start speaking to those product features, you first must identify which ones speak to the needs and expectations of your target. You should ask yourself — Would a physician care about this? Do I know how it will benefit them? If you’re not sure of the answer, or not confident in it, it’s time to do some real research.

2. Focus on one message at a time.
Even the most technical audiences are still consumers — they can be overwhelmed by too many messages if you don’t prioritize. And, if they’re overwhelmed, you run the risk they’ll tune out or become frustrated by your marketing.

So, that begs the question, how do you prioritize? There are so many features and benefits to tout. Where do you begin? Well, the key is to match your messaging with the marketing tactic, being cognizant of what each tactic is trying to accomplish.

For example, in the two seconds that your customer may spend flipping by an ad in a trade journal you cannot possibly convey the details of all seven incredible benefits of your product. You have time to convey one message, not seven.

What should that be? Well, if the objective of your ad campaign is to build brand awareness, then your message should express the overall brand and what it delivers to the audience, giving them a sense of your company and product positioning.

Then, as you have the opportunity to engage with the customer for more extended periods of time, you can get more specific about the product. So, on your website or direct mail piece, you can generate interest in your product by speaking in greater detail to its unique features.

Lastly, once the sales team has won a face-to-face meeting with a qualified customer, our job, as marketing professionals, is to arm them with the message and tools to close the sale. Reinforce the difference your product will make – how it will help them achieve better surgical outcomes, run a more efficient office, better protect their patients or increase patient satisfaction.

Becoming more singularly-focused in your communication provides greater opportunity to connect with your audience.

3. Strike a balance of emotional and rational messaging
A recent survey by Harris Interactive provided insight into physicians’ prescribing behavior. Surprisingly, it uncovered that although product information and familiarity play a role in the physicians’ decisions, the emotional connection to the product and their feelings toward it were also a significant factor.

The lesson: Don’t rule out the power of emotional impact in advertising, even to the most technical audience.

Much like an everyday consumer, technical decision makers are swayed by an emotional appeal that makes them feel smarter and gives them a sense of purpose. Feeling inspired could be just enough to pique their interest in your product.

With a little research, some prioritization, and a good mix of rational and emotional appeal, you will be well on your way to creating a communications program that connects with smart, sophisticated decision makers.