Boring, Complex, or Tough to Differentiate Product? These Marketing Tips Are For You

By Heike Young

We can’t all market the latest wearables, hottest fashions, or simplest services. In fact, many marketers face a tough task when they begin work every day: marketing something with a value that’s, quite frankly, difficult to articulate.

The Marketing Cloudcast, the marketing podcast from Salesforce, talked with Jonathan Kranz, Principal of Kranz Communications and author of Writing Copy For Dummies, to get his advice on precisely these types of challenges.

Jonathan advises businesses on how to market products in these all too recognizable categories:

  • Utterly boring or unsexy. This is all too common in B2B marketing, and some B2C marketing, as well (for example, insurance).
  • Extraordinarily complex. For example, complex professional services or applications for enterprises. These subjects are hard to condense into an elevator pitch.
  • Lacking differentiation. As Jonathan explains it, this is “something that you know, deep in your heart, is not that different from the competition.” Your product or service is similar to others already out there.

Check out these insightful nuggets from our conversation with Jonathan:

“There are no boring products. There are just bored marketers.”

Have a dull product or service to market? Step one is to get out of your own head. It may be boring to you, but it’s interesting to somebody. Your job is to figure out: “To whom is this important? To whom does this matter?” Get in their mindset to craft the right marketing message, whether that’s a social post or an email.

For example, Jonathan has worked with an oil extraction technology company that hits hard on the topic of drill bits. Boring? Yep. But suppose you own an oil rig in Saudi Arabia and you know that every day of delay in not having this drill bit can cause millions of dollars in lost revenue. Suddenly, the drill bit becomes much more interesting.

The challenge with boring products is figuring out why it matters, and what’s at stake if your customer doesn’t have it—no matter how boring it may be at first glance.

“What’s your plumber’s magnet moment?”

Say you have a complex or overly complicated thing to market. Your first thought might be to write a spec sheet with all the detailed features and benefits, simply because the product or service is so complex.

Instead, Jonathan suggests doing the opposite. Rather than focus on everything and make people’s eyes glaze over, get hyper-focused on the ideal moment of conversion for this complicated thing.

Think about the plumber’s magnet. You move into a new home, check the mail, and receive a local plumber’s magnet for the fridge. When a pipe bursts someday, you have thirty seconds to call someone. Your eye goes to the fridge, and that relationship starts.

Jonathan recommends that companies with complex products ponder their plumber’s magnet moment. What’s the thing immediately urgent and roaring that your service can fix? Don’t overcomplicate and talk about all the other stuff just yet. Form a concise message of what people must address NOW, and maintain a sense of urgency, because that’s how you get in the door when you’re selling something complex.

“Do not pump up a fake feature or benefit; your customers won’t be fooled.”

If you have a product or service that’s unnervingly similar to many others in the marketplace, you can still make sure your audience prefers yours vs. the others.

It starts with creating the smoothest path to getting what you sell. Someone needs your item and they have multiple options, but you’re the easiest way to get it. Of course, this doesn’t have to mean delivery, which can involve logistics and transportation—factors outside marketing. Instead, it can revolve around your message.

“Meet parity with clarity.”

Be the company that identifies what’s most important to your buyer with the greatest strength and clarity. Figure out what turf you can own, and be the one who owns it best.

“There’s no mystical quality of creativity.”

When it comes to great marketing, don’t buy into the myth that creativity is all about being cute or clever. Jonathan isn’t against being clever, but stresses that the truly important thing is clear thinking. Thinking clearly is something anyone can do, creative gift or not.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s covered in Jonathan Kranz’s episode of the Marketing Cloudcast—one of our favorite episodes so far. Get it now and subscribe so you won’t miss another episode. You can also check out the embedded episode below.

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For those who listened to the podcast and simply must see a real-life example of Ron Popeil in action (you’ll understand when you listen!), here’s one of Ron’s infomercials.

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Tweet @youngheike with marketing questions or topics you’d like to see covered next on the Marketing Cloudcast.