“Marketing high-tech products is pretty much all about persuading people and organizations that the disruption to their lives is worth the benefit they will ultimately derive from the product”. This quote was in a great article from the Ottawa Business Journal that I recently read. Great marketers know that we are motivated by two things, pain or pleasure with the former being the more captivating leader.
Yet it continues to amaze me, how many business owners looking for new customers, partners or capital fail to realize the importance of a great presentation. So what constitutes a great presentation? Read the article below by David Lynch.
What do an iPad and a chicken rotisserie have in common?
The “pitchman” is a somewhat dying profession with a dubious reputation. You can still occasionally see them at fairs, markets, large stores and, most ubiquitously, on late-night infomercials, selling everything from timeshares to spray-on hair.
The closest we come to using them in high tech is at trade shows as a means of getting people to the booth. But believe it or not, there are many similarities between the challenges pitchmen have faced and solved, and the challenges that face high-tech marketers every day.
is the guy who pitches the Showtime Rotisserie, a versatile counter-top rotisserie that cooks chicken (and just about everything else).
Total sales of the Showtime Rotisserie exceeded $1 billion in the first three years following its introduction in 1998, and it’s still selling strongly today.
Yet when Mr. Popeil introduced the first home rotisserie, he faced exactly the same challenges high-tech marketers do today when introducing new technology to the marketplace.
The rotisserie was (and for many people still is), an innovation, representing a completely different way of cooking at home. And like a lot of innovations it was disruptive, requiring consumers to rethink the way they go about their business in the kitchen.
Marketing high-tech products is pretty much all about persuading people and organizations that the disruption to their lives is worth the benefit they will ultimately derive from the product.
So how did Mr. Popeil do it with the Showtime?
TV pitchmen understand it’s all about messaging. But more importantly, they live and die by the presentation of their products and have figured out the most effective formula:
- Explain the invention to customers not once or twice, but three or four times – each time with a different twist;
- Show them it really works;
- Make them see how it could fit in their routine and how much better it is than the current alternative;
- Sell them on how easy it is to use.
A shining example of some of these pitchman principles applied in high tech is the Apple iPad, and you only have to look at the growth it’s experiencing as proof.
Let’s face it, it’s a pretty basic device: web browser, music player, e-mail and image viewer. It has a cool and well-designed package, but in terms of functionality it’s not much more than a smartphone without the phone!
But it’s a masterpiece of usability. The innovation around the iPad is almost exclusively focused on improving the overall user experience. Its unique lightweight and usable size is just the start.
By using solid-state disks instead of active ones, Apple ensured it’s fast and ready to go at the flick of a switch, and reduced overall power requirements. Power consumption is reduced further through optimization features built into the software, extending battery life.
The iPad is also designed to be so intuitive that no manual is necessary. It links automatically to the Internet (no more searching for Wi-Fi hotspots), and connecting to mail systems is a breeze.
And then there is the App Store. Everything is self-contained; simply browse the store, find something you like, click and start running it. If there is a charge, it defaults to your credit card.
Finally, as good as Mr. Popeil is at pitching a product, one of the main reasons he is so successful is because his products are designed to be marketable.
For example, after the launch of the Showtime Rotisserie, its makers went back and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars refitting the speed of rotation from the initial four rotations a minute to six because they discovered the extra rotations gave a more even golden-brown finish to the chicken. It didn’t change the taste of the chicken, but made it more appetizing while it was cooking, and made it easier to present with impact.
Compare that to how most high-tech product development is done, where marketing requirements come a distant second or third in prioritization. And compare this to the iPad, where the product was designed specifically to emphasize the key values of speed, portability, connectivity and graphical prowess.
Everything about this product is focused on usability. And everything about how it’s presented, marketed and supported is focused the same way. And the market is responding.
Apple is reaping the growth benefits of this “pitchman approach” and, with a bit of thought and a strong focus, every high-tech company can do the same.
David Lynch is the founder of The Fios Group and former vice-president of marketing at Embotics Corp.
Photo courtesy of public-commoncraft.