Imagine describing a smartphone to someone from the 80s. Then picture yourself explaining Siri or TikTok, or just the concept of an app. Can you see the bafflement on their faces? The astonishment that such a thing could exist? Their effort to understand how it might be incorporated into their lives?
Describing a new product to a customer can present a similar challenge. It’s the ultimate test of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. And being able to communicate the impact a product might have on their lives with clarity, respect and authenticity is critical. Customers don’t want to feel confused or like they’re missing the point. And they don’t want to be alienated by a brand they’ve been loyal to.
With 80% of customers saying the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services, it means the techniques for teaching a market about a new offering have to be even more sophisticated — and authentic.
Here are some tactics for creatively engaging customers with your message that connects and sells.
1. Explain your product like you would explain your job
You’ve probably streamlined your response to the “And what do you do?” question that crops up at every extended family gathering and first dates. Apply the same mindset and approach when describing a complex product to your customer. Bear in mind that, just like the cousin who only sees you every couple of years, your customer doesn’t have the same knowledge as you. Consider their perspective and explain your product in simple terms. Keep it straightforward. Breakdown the features of the product and help them feel smarter about how they might use it.
2. Leverage your marketing tools
Zip back to the 80s again for a moment: remember those choose-your-own-adventure books where you could pick different ways to end the story? This is similar, except you’re offering different ways for your customers to learn about a product.
For some customers, a comprehensive brochure will do the trick. Others will do better with a video tutorial or an infographic. Some might respond to an audio walkthrough in the form of a podcast. Often hearing from a customer – someone like themselves – about their experience of the product can be a more effective way of bringing the product to life.
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.
3. Use metaphors to make your product familiar
Most people don’t understand how software applications run in a data centre. The vivid metaphor of the cloud, one used by Salesforce and many other companies, gives them access to a complex idea in a powerful way. Something that would otherwise seem completely foreign, is suddenly made familiar.
A successful metaphor can precipitate huge leaps in understanding. Deceptively simple, they can transform an idea from bewildering to comprehensible. Clever use of a savvy metaphor will give your customer their “A-ha!” moment.
Again, it’s a matter of putting yourself in the shoes of your customer and imagining what they’ll use the product for and how you can relate that to something they are familiar with – a creature, a landscape or weather feature, a tool, an action. Use the metaphor consistently in your messaging.
Think, for example, of the symbols used so successfully and often that we barely notice them: an old school camera for Instagram, a speech bubble for messaging, an old style phone for your smartphone call option, an envelope for email, a trolley for online carts. Even your customer from the 1980s could get their head around these familiar icons.
A good imagination and the ability to walk in your customers shoes will go a long way to helping you master the art of selling new products. Start with these three tactics for an authentic and vivid approach to inviting your customers into a world where your product description sells itself.