Educating your customers about a new product can be a real challenge. But there are some deceptively simple ways to get your message across powerfully – and respectfully.
Imagine describing the capabilities of a smartphone to someone who’d never come across one before. Think about how you might explain the concept of an app. Say you’d time travelled back to 1980 and had to describe how Snapchat, Siri or Apple Pay worked to someone living then.
Not easy, right?
It’s a useful exercise in demonstrating how challenging it can be to present a new product or breakthrough concept to a new audience. There is a big learning curve and a lot of context required to help potential customers understand how a product will impact on their lives.
Understanding a product is key to getting, adopting and valuing it, so communicating its impact with clarity, respect and authenticity is crucial. Customers don’t want to be confused or treated like they’re missing the point or feel alienated by a brand they’ve been loyal to.
Of course, customers today are more likely to first learn about new products through digital channels like a website or email message rather than having it personally explained. That means the techniques for teaching a market about a new offering have to be even more sophisticated.
There are many ways to educate customers about a new product. The only real limits are your creativity and ability to get the message across in an engaging way. Here are a few tactics to consider.
“What do you again?” may be one of the most common questions asked around the family dinner table but it provides a great opportunity to perfect your simplified elevator pitch. You need this same mindset and approach when describing a complex product to your customer. Go into the conversation knowing they don’t have the same information or knowledge as you, take a moment to deeply consider their perspective, and then explain the complex product in the simplest terms.
With this approach, less is more. It’s about educating customers by breaking down elements of a product while also making them feel smarter about how they’ll use it.
Remember those choose-your-own-adventure books where readers could pick different ways to end the story? This is kind of the same idea, except you’re offering alternate ways to learn about a product.
For some customers, a comprehensive brochure will do the trick. Others will respond better to a video tutorial or an infographic. Some might respond best to an audio walk-through about the product and the problems it solves through a podcast episode, or hearing from a customer – someone like themselves – about how they’ve used the product and how its helped them.
Still other customers might use several different types of media as part of the learning process, particularly if they’re responsible for explaining it to their coworkers or boss.
Not everyone understands how software applications run in a data centre. But by using the vivid metaphor of the cloud, Salesforce together with many other companies communicated a complex idea in a powerful way that anyone could get their heads around.
A successful metaphor can precipitate huge leaps in understanding. They are a simple but powerful storytelling tool which can render a previously baffling idea into something totally comprehensible.
Think about what your customer will use your product for, and relate that to something that your audience is completely familiar with – an animal, a landscape feature or a tool. Use that metaphor consistently in your messaging.
Familiarity gives your customers something to hook onto and this technique is used so commonly we almost don’t notice it anymore. Consider the symbols used to represent Instagram (an old-school camera), messaging (a speech bubble), the ‘phone’ function on a smartphone (the old fashioned dial phone), email (an envelope) and e-shopping carts (a supermarket trolley). Things that once seemed beyond imagining were made suddenly quite sensible and understandable through familiar icons.
Selling innovative products is an art that requires respect for your audience matched with a creative and intelligent approach to helping them understand why the product should matter to them – why it’s worth their limited time and resources. These three tactics provide a solid foundation for creating a powerful approach to educating your customers.
To find out more about getting closer to your customer, download the State of the Connected Customer report here.