Product Marketing Rule #35: Create Simple Messages for Complex Products
Product Marketing Rule #35 from the best-selling book, 42 Rules of Product Marketing, was written by Noël Adams, President, Clearworks
Remember this: customers don’t want details and technological explanations, they want benefits and functionality.
All too often companies have great products, but those products never have a chance of being seen by customers. Why? Many times, customers don’t understand enough about what the product is to even want to check the product out.
You can have a great product, but even a great product will fail without the right message.
Companies with great products often fall into the trap of wanting to tell the customer everything. Product marketers are so excited about their product that they want to capture all of the attributes in one explanation. With the help of their internal product teams, they get caught up in the details and wind up including even the most technical information in their product message, somehow afraid that they might miss the chance to convey something that one customer might find important. The result is typically an overwhelming, confusing message.
Remember this: customers don’t want details and technological explanations, they want benefits and functionality. They want to simply and easily understand your offer and how it fits into their world.
How many times have we all looked at a website for a product and thought “wow—I have no idea what they are selling.” The message is just too complex. Messaging should be clear and simple even for the most complex products.
Complexity doesn’t just refer to the jargon and technology terms used, it also refers to the excessive detail that gets in the way of communicating the key points.
The key is to strip out that complexity.
We have clients who come to us when they don’t understand why a product is underperforming. When we do the analysis, we often uncover that the problem is not the product itself, but the product message.
People may have a need for the company’s offer but didn’t understand that the company actually offered what they want.
How do you fix this? Rework the message. The first step in rewriting the message is to engage the customer and understand what is important. Talk to customers about what they look for in a product like yours. Listen for the key points that are important to them and equally, what is unimportant. Listen for the words they use to describe the product and the benefits they espouse so that you can speak in terms that make sense to a customer, not a product marketer. Next, write your message in simple terms, include only those points that are important and use terminology the customer understands and can relate to. And finally, test that message with customers. Make sure people get what you are saying quickly and easily without further explanation.
To create simple messaging, remember these key points:
- Focus on what the customer wants, needs, and cares about
- Use words the customer understands and can relate to easily
- Save the technical details for the appendix
- Test the message with your target market; let them tell you if they understand and find it compelling
In the future, if you have a product that is underperforming, look at the message. And remember, the litmus test for simple and clear messaging is not whether your internal team can understand the message, it is whether the customer understands, relates to, and finds the message compelling. Go talk to customers and simplify your message.