How to ensure your product or service gets noticed in a noisy world.
Let’s be honest, most people have no idea why they buy one product versus another. And most companies who make products or services have no idea how some become a hit and how others never will. A hit product is like a hit record or song, there is a formula that acts as the foundation, but it is the artistry and emotion that gets the job done. And the reason certain record producers keep pumping out hit after hit is because they are the few that understand how both science and art are needed to make a hit, rather than just another record.
Most companies who have been around any length of time have found enough success to become profitable. But the majority are also far from ever getting the most out of their products or services. Many are missing the elements that could have made these products achieve their highest potential. The real question is, how much money have they been leaving on the table? How might have their products and services become runaway hits that dominated competitors and boosted the value of their brands?
This is the first in a series of articles that will expose the ten-phase methodology we follow to ensure our clients don’t leave money on the table. We will lift the veil on our formula for breaking down how customers engage with products before, during, and after the sale. More importantly, we will touch on the art that is required, along with the science, to get the job done.
Phase 1: Discover – How can you ensure a prospective customer notices your product or service?
From the customer’s perspective, until their first interaction with a brand, that company does not exist. And as with meeting new people, first encounters are sometimes the only chance to make an impression. So how can a company not only ensure their new product or service get noticed, but that when it does, it makes a favorable impression that sticks?
Unfortunately, most companies get this wrong. They think the responsibility for getting noticed is the job of their marketers or salespeople. By then, it’s too late and all too similar to putting lipstick on a pig. The job of getting noticed can be much more effective if architected into the products from their inception.
Ask yourself a few ‘what if’ questions. What if the first product requirement asked of product managers or engineers was, “What product feature or attribute would trigger the viewer to want to find out more?” Or, what if development teams were told their products must be remembered after being viewed? What if their mandate was to cause their product or service to evoke emotion and make people care to find out more? What if it was 1956 and you saw these two cars, which would you want to find out more about, which one would you remember?
Or what if you were looking for a small housewarming gift like a kitchen ladle, which one of these would you buy?
The inclusion of the gull wing doors and red leather interior may have made the Mercedes 300SL more expensive and less practical than the Porsche 356A, but it also cemented it as a timeless classic that helped build brand value in all Mercedes models then and since. The playfulness of Ototo Design’s ‘Nessie’ soup ladle made it the clear choice for gifts while providing an additional $9 of retail dollars over ordinary ladles.
Which car or ladle made you ‘feel’ something?
Which made you want to share your discovery with your friends?
Which made you want to say, “Shut up and take my money!”
The Art & Science of Getting Noticed
How do people make purchase decisions? This will become even more important in a future article, but it is also vital to know when trying to understand how products get noticed. There are two reasons people make purchase decisions:
The need to avoid pain or loss
The need to gain pleasure
Plus, there are three different type of prospects who encounter products or services:
- Those who are seeking a solution for a problem they already know they have
- Those who are somewhat aware they have a problem but aren’t sure about any available solutions
- Those who aren’t even aware they have a problem.
For all types of potential purchasers—and whether they are seeking pain relief or pleasure—it may surprise you to learn that purchase decisions are made by satisfying emotional, not rational, needs. People buy what they feel, not what they have evaluated. They subconsciously construct rationalizations for why they decide to buy one product or another after they have already made their decision based on emotion. This is vital information when deciding whether a product should include some playful detail or outrageous attribute.
What to do to get noticed
Evaluate the next new product you come across by asking yourself…
- Are they using industrial design or user interface design to stand out?
- Do they have a bold brand strategy that shows the company stands for something?
- Is their product positioning sufficiently different to deserve to be noticed?
- Will they earn the spread of their news by the press, influencers, and public?
How to proceed
Getting noticed is arguably the single most important outcome of a company’s sales, marketing, and product development efforts. If a company doesn’t get this right, almost no amount of follow-on advertising, user enjoyment, or product accolades will make up the difference and the company will be relegated to ‘buying eyeballs,’—e.g. advertising—to initiate every potential sale. At the very least, it will be an expensive, uphill climb.
Even with the best of marketing and product development teams, a misstep in the DISCOVER phase can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in lost opportunity or future required overspend. To provide insurance against a misstep and the highest possibly chance for getting it right, we recommend that companies do the following:
- Treat the DISCOVER phase as a separate process that includes members from development, product management, marketing, & sales teams.
- Engage with an outsider who is an expert in branding, product development, & customer experience to help set up the DISCOVER process, and to be an ombudsman accountable to the CEO or business unit executive.
After all, if a company already new how to make ‘hit records’ they would have the gold records on the wall. Gaining professional outside assistance is a low cost, high return investment and insurance at the same time.
Next Article in Series: Phase 2: Assess