If they’re selling an experience, why are they treating me like that?

There are times when it’s difficult to separate a product from its surrounding experience. When that happens, it’s critical that both the product and the experience are good enough to lure the customer back for more. A failure in either element can adversely affect the ultimate success of the business.

Whilst products can be designed and supplied to a fixed specification with defined limits, experiences can be more difficult to reproduce. There is a danger that overly-prescribed experiences can leave the customer feeling “processed” rather than being treated as an individual. Front-line staff need to understand the effect they can have on the customer experience. And Head Office staff need to give them the freedom to deliver that individual experience, rather than insisting on following an efficient process.
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Product essentials: Emotional appeal and powerful words

Great products create emotional attachments. Designers who recognise this and who create that customer bond are likely to have a success on their hands. Those products are easy to market because customers (or users) respond more readily to product benefits than to product features.

Neglecting this key requirement during the product definition phase leaves too much for the marketing team to do, and creates unrealistic expectations that they will somehow pull a rabbit out of a hat.

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We’re all experts now

How often have you seen product or portfolio decisions taken without the support of robust insights?

In the absence of existing insights, gathering meaningful data can be time-consuming and expensive. And with constant downward pressure on both time and cost, the temptation to cut corners is always there and guesswork creeps in. After all, how difficult can it be to guess, particularly considering the amount of information which is already available?

  • The web provides ready access to a vast amount of market data.
  • Discussion forums dedicated to the particular product or topic almost certainly exist, irrespective of how niche it is.
  • Online customer reviews are ubiquitous, instantly available and free.
  • … and since we’re all consumers anyway, we have our own experience to fall back on.

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Delivering compelling value propositions with video

A good customer value proposition can work wonders for a new product. Indeed, the lack of one can break an otherwise great product. This post presents a selection of products which have successfully used short video clips to grab the viewer’s attention, each with a recognisable problem and clear explanation of how the product solves the problem.

Video can clearly communicate value propositions. And with such content becoming increasingly easy to create and distribute, we will see more of them being used in this way.

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Augmented reality delivers consumer wow

New technology brings new features, surprises and delight – almost daily. As expectations ratchet up with every passing month it becomes ever harder to impress consumers. From time to time a great new service or product grabs the attention of key influencers, the wind blows in the right direction, all the stars line up perfectly and the whole thing takes off. More often than not though, it doesn’t work out like that and great products fail to reach critical mass.

Augmented reality app Blippar recently caught my eye with its “Talking pack” label. It is a great app, with tremendous potential for consumers, brands, retailers, merchandisers and advertisers. They have already launched more than 750 campaigns for many big name brands, with more than 3 million users.

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Marketing smartphones is becoming tougher

Coordinating a marketing campaign (in-store, TV, print, OOH) is a hugely complex and costly task for mobile network operators and manufacturers – particularly when it needs to match the availability of new product. And addressing a rapidly saturating smartphone market presents a major challenge – consumers are becoming entrenched in an increasingly polarised market.

Consumers have good reasons not to change phones, but at the same time it is this churn which drives innovation forwards, so it is important to convince them to change. And for mobile network operators, traffic generates revenue so it is important to attract new consumers for them too. Perhaps these operators hold the key to the next battleground in the smartphone war? Maybe we’ll start to see more and more incentives for switching operators.

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Meeting, exceeding and managing expectations

It’s sometimes difficult for a Product Manager to know whether customer expectations are there to be met or exceeded. Exceeding them has always struck me as the best way to deliver customer delight; merely meeting them must be the absolute bare minimum. Project & programme managers, on the other hand, often argue that exceeding expectations is setting the bar unnecessarily high, and that if expectations are set correctly in the first place, the objective should be to meet them.

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But marketing messages can set expectations at an altogether different level. Are we reading too much into them? Are we being blinded by numbers and facts without questioning their relevance? For example:

  • smartphone display window made from Gorilla Glass is strong enough to withstand the weight of 10,000 elephants (yes, ten thousand) before it cracks.
  • A standard family car with a normal range of 800 miles can, with careful driving, cover more than 1,600 miles on a single tank of fuel.
  • Home broadband can deliver rates of up to 100 Mb/s. Continue reading