“Now, our parents will understand what we actually do.”
This was the refrain around the office of the company formerly known as Infogrames, the Lyons-based video game maker with a name that looked like a typo. After it acquired the Atari moniker from Hasbro, Infogrames wisely decided to change its identity to the brand known for ushering in the video game era.
Most companies don’t own a brand with Atari’s power, though. If you work for technology companies not called Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook, Apple or Microsoft, you need to exert some effort to get others to understand who you are and what you can do.
According to this must-read report by Forrester’s Jennifer Wise, many mobile marketing agencies and developers need to improve their pitches. That’s because as technology has evolved and the number of ways to deploy a marketing budget has exploded, their potential customers just don’t understand them.
Marketers must represent the customer with as much passion as the product teams have for their software or hardware.
I’ve helped prepare, refine, and deliver technology-centric sales pitches to some of the world’s most well-known mobile app publishers and retailers such as Walmart, Best Buy, and Target. While every presentation will vary, here are six of the things the best of them have in common.
The audience is clearly defined. Technology companies require product or company overviews for client pitches, journalists, analysts and industry events. Each of these audiences differs, and the material you share has to vary accordingly. If you’re meeting with business development people, for example, do not make a deep dive into your software stack. It’s unlikely anyone one in the room will care.
It features a new insight. I recall a social media agency pitch about 12 years ago, when such campaigns were still very new, that told me just how many fan sites my video game franchise had, the number of fans each site had, and their favorite topics. I was blown away at the insight – and the homework the agency had done.
Product features have been translated into customer benefits. If you’re a marketer or business development specialist, you must represent the customer with as much passion as the product teams have for their software or hardware. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask “So what?” about all your products’ features to determine which ones will have the most out-sized impact on their business.
These benefits are informed by an awareness of the competition. You don’t need to mention your competition by name to communicate that you know customers have alternatives. You therefore must know what makes your offering better or different, relative to these alternatives.
The three most important benefits are easy to remember. We’ve all been swamped by slides drowning in text and graphics. The more we cram into our slides or videos, the less our audience will remember. Your job is to identify the three (maximum) benefits your customers should remember and remind them of those benefits at least twice: at the beginning and the end of your pitch.
There’s a compelling call to action. Potential customers, media, and anyone attending a keynote don’t show up for presentations to be polite. They are acting in their own self-interest. You must give them something to do after you’ve delivered the message, and you have to measure whatever that is to determine how effective the pitch is.
Doing all these things effectively won’t guarantee that your parents will figure out what you do, but that strikes me as a worthy objective. As we head into the New Year, you could do worse than audit the first impression you give the world and make sure it works.