When it comes to promoting technological devices, it helps to focus on the product's benefits.
But, sometimes, promoting a complex menu of benefits isn't easy.
Below, readers provide useful examples so that prospects can quickly understand how benefits come into play.
|Next Marketing Challenge
Warming up cold calls.
Translating a complex technical product into simple English
We have a product that's complex and technical, and its decision makers are not even close to being technical people. The product is known by its acronym since we've yet to brand it. How do you market such a technical product to the general public?
—Ben, Marketing Manager
Deborah Lambert, EVP of online marketing with MerchantAdvantage, also has a technical software product. She says, "We found focusing on the decision makers' problem and our solution to that problem meant they didn't have to understand 'how' it works, but just that it works."
James Gardner, group direct at One to One Interactive, provides the key to success:
Remember that people buy benefits, not features. Remember the old story that even though you may sell diamond-tipped magnesium drill bits with a uranium core, your nontechnical buyers are looking for one-fourth inch holes in concrete. So, anchor your messaging in simple benefits: cost of ownership, brand reputation, basic performance information, risk-reducing guarantees, case studies, competitive benchmarking and other nuggets.
Consider also rule-changing tactics like creating an industry association to endorse your product's approach or developing a new technical performance index. Lastly, indulge data-seeking "nerds" by providing them with info (downloadable data files?); tell them how to interpret it (tools and apps?); and encourage them to get savvy and draw their own conclusions (CEO blog? analyst reports? case studies?). All have been done before, I assure you! Finally, if it helps, think broadly about how others have approached this problem—e.g., stereos and other consumer electronics (tons of performance data and many nontechnical buyers), automobiles (ditto), computers (ditto), and even obscure products like home furnaces, home windows and web hosting.
Allan G. Lie, creative director with Golden West Radio, provides great examples with cars and television sets. He reminds us that many of us don't know a lot of the mechanics of our cars, but we know how to get them from point A to point B:
Today's vehicles are probably one of the most complex and technical devices out there, but no one really cares how they work. If stepping on the gas pedal gets them from Point A to Point B, that's all people need to know about the engine and transmission. After that, they're far more worried about the heated seats, the built-in DVD player and if the vehicle can carry their skis.
The general public also doesn't really care how the TV picture gets from the studio to their living room. Most people reading this through the Internet aren't really sure what the Internet actually is—or how their computers are accessing it—they just want the benefit of the information. When we provide radio marketing solutions to our clients, we DON'T start with a lecture on transistors, diodes and frequency modulation. Notice a trend?
Your product is no different. People don't care ABOUT it—they care about what it'll do for them. Focus on that. You could also provide a resource for people to learn more about the technical aspects of the product—a Web site, free brochure, phone number or company rep.
Joan Muschamp, marketing officer at Applied Knowledge Group, Inc., says to focus on the reason for the technical complexity:
You need to talk the talk of your decision makers and not be driven by tech-talk. No one wants to feel stupid, and focusing on the technical complexities they can't (and don't want to) understand will do just that. Go for the WIIFM, and explain the end result (better results, cost savings, revenue generation, etc.). Offer the technical info as an add-on (white paper, tech sheets, etc.) so the tech people can access it and opine, but key your efforts to what advantages your customers will gain by purchasing your product.
These examples and approaches of selling complex products should get any company in this situation going. After all, CEOs often don't care how marketing works, as long as it brings in sales and publicity.
Next Marketing Challenge: Can You Help?
I have just started my own industrial sales business and sell filtration media (belts and air filters) to wastewater plants, papermills, food processing plants and dredging companies. Most of the time, I need to speak to a machine operator, and these people are busy; I only have maybe a minute to get in my sales pitch.
I am a little shy, and I have to cold call a bit; and I do—but get pretty nervous. I know I can sell my product and have a lot of direct contacts. Plus, there is only a medium amount of competition. The "I know you are busy and I won't take up but just a minute of your time..." sounds too old and tired. What is a good first line to say to prospects and what other cold calling tips can you provide?
—Patti M., Owner
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