You and your team have invested significant time and capital in designing and developing your product and it’s currently queued for purchase. Your product is something you and your team are proud of and you’re confident of its market success.
Regardless of how innovative and even game-changing your product might be, it’s not going to sell itself. Customers require compelling reasons to buy (especially when it comes to an unfamiliar product or brand), and many of these “reasons” aren’t purely rational.
Fortunately, there’s a number of actions you can take to increase customer awareness of your product and heighten demand for it.
Capitalize on the power of stories.
Give people something to talk about and a reason to sing your praises. Especially if you already have established customers, they’re the “low hanging fruit” of your most powerful and cost-effective marketing: word-of-mouth via social media.
Some of the most “spreadable” stories can be easily generated through small but significant customer care gestures. For example, a frequent flyer tweeted his dismay about his flight being canceled only to be contacted within minutes by the airline representative. The airline representative personally apologized and offered him free miles, leading him to relay his story and endorse the airline in a Tweet that expressed delight over his positive experience.
Another approach to generating story-telling about your product or brand is to seek out opportunities to make a positive difference. This can be an especially powerful business-to-business approach or even in partnership with a non-profit. For example, the maker of small, portable, retro-inspired ice chests partnered with a local artisan ice cream shop in hosting a free community block party and outdoor movie night.
Pint-sized containers of ice cream were sold directly to locals from the ice chests and the event was picked up by the local news and widely covered on social media, prompting a hail storm of Tweets, Instagram uploads, and enthusiastic Facebook posts about the unusual and eye-catching ice chest, as well as an enormous spike in sales as the photos and videos went viral.
Focus on the benefit a feature provides rather than the feature itself.
It can be tempting to want to emphasize the features of your product but customers don’t buy features, they buy benefits and positive experiences. Emphasizing features rather than benefits or positive user-experience essentially shifts the “work” onto the customer, who is left with the laborious task of figuring out how the features will benefit them. (Provided you haven’t already lost them.)
What follows are four rules for communicating with your customer in the language of benefits to ensure the lowest possible bar of entry to buying your product:
1. Emphasize the positive benefit rather than the lack of a negative feature:
- Wrong: “This bath soap contains no harsh chemicals.” (feature)
- Right: “This bath soap is gentle and nourishing to your skin.” (benefit)
2. Use vivid, emotion-evoking yet accessible language:
- Wrong: “This mattress is made with pre-compressed coils.”
- Right: “This mattress is made to comfortably support your every curve.”
3. Don’t overwhelm the customer with an excessive list of benefits:
- Wrong: “The top twenty reasons for choosing our product are:”
- Right: “Breathability and moisture wicking are why physique athletes choose Strength-Pro”
4. Be specific and concrete rather than ambiguous and general:
- Wrong: “Our software enhances collaboration.”
- Right: “Our software provides a user-friendly platform to allow design team members to simultaneously make and view changes to a virtual prototype.”
Let customers try it out.
Take the anxiety out of buying by giving your customers a chance to try your product, risk-free. Whether you use digital channels to offer free samples with a simple click, in-store giveaways or product demonstrations, or feature your product at a large expo, these avenues allow for risk-free experimentation. Even if you can’t afford this approach, offer limited discounts, special offers (“buy two, get one free”). Depending on the nature of your product and customer demographic, you can use sites like Groupon to extend enticing offers.
Local products or services benefit from local exposure and interaction. Even informal gatherings at a home where guests can play with the product or service can spur powerful product awareness and interest through neighborly word of mouth. Products that aren’t unduly technical can be displayed and in some cases even market tested at farmer’s markets or fairs. Though you’ll want to take advantage of digital marketing channels, it’s a mistake to fail to capitalize on the opportunities that may be as close as your backyard.
Make it easy for your customer.
Technology can be your product’s greatest ally or worst enemy. Go above and beyond to make the actual purchase all but effortless for your customer. Make yourself easily accessible to your customer within their prefered channel. The difference between losing an online customer to a competitor can be as simple as a poor user interface or a temporary bug. Before you ever make your product available for purchase through a digital channel, take steps to ensure the entire process is simple, clear, streamlined, and seamless and that your online channels are continually up to date and bug free.
Just as poor user interface can be the difference between keeping and losing a customer to a competitor, poor retail shelf-space placement or relegation to little known retailers can have the same effect. In negotiating with retailers, follow these five steps to increase your chances of landing ideal shelf-placement in a well known, well established, high volume store:
- Determine what need you can fill for the store.
- Deliver a compelling pitch rather than discussing ideas.
- Commit to exclusivity (if the retailer is big enough to warrant this).
- Include the retailer in market research.
- Implement aggressive trials and marketing campaigns prior to launch.
It’s important to remember that to your customer’s unconscious perception, the channels through which you market and process transactions (your company’s website) are as much your product as the products you make available through them. By attending just as closely to the quality of your marketing and purchase channels and ensuring the customer experience with them is easy and enjoyable, you close the cracks that customers may otherwise fall through into the hands of your competitors.
At Pivot, we’re experts in clearing the path and priming the channels for your product’s market success. Contact us today and see what we can do for you.