With technology in particular, there’s a tendency to get excited about a whiz-bang bit of “breakthrough” or “innovative” or worse “unique” gizmo or piece code that some smart guys in India cooked up for you. Seriously, who cares if something is unique or first if it’s completely useless?
I’m the first to admit that technology is cool, and I can easily get excited about a gadget just because it’s cool. I have many gadget sitting on shelves gathering dust for that very reason. Once the excitement was past, it turned out that the gadget wasn’t all that useful, reliable, or helpful.
In his Convince and Convert blog, Jay Baer makes the point that finding out where customers can use your help can improve your marketing efforts. He advocates implementing your marketing activities in such a way that customers will find some utility in your communication. One example I have is a newsletter we get from a local auto repair shop full of quirky tidbits and useful tips on gardening or cleaning out the attic. My wife actually takes the time to read it, and then gives me the coupon for an oil change.
Applied to technology marketing, helpfulness should be a big part of your strategy. It’s important to remember to always tie your messages back to what your product or service actually does for the customer. Ask the question, how does this help make the customer’s life better in some meaningful way. Ideally, you should be able to make that case that if people fit a certain profile, they will be significantly better off using your product then they were previously, or if they used a competitive product. If you are struggling to understand your audience’s needs, maybe it’s time to do a bit more research and message development.
Tools like ROI calculators that give customers a way to evaluate whether or not your product will help save some money are incredibly valuable. Yet, too often I hear about how hard it is to figure out ROI. These days customers are most interested in saving money so demonstrating how much money your software will save is a great strategy for anything in the B2B world.
On the B2C front, a big part of the iPhone’s success ties back to the huge catalog of apps. While many of them are fluff, a large number are actually helpful. Once people find something to be useful, they tell their friends who in turn run out and buy an iPhone. The real genius in the iPhone isn’t the touch screen, but a friendly UI that lets people discover and use truly helpful apps.
Want a blowout success? Think long and hard about how you can help your customers. What are their pain points and how can you help?