Saturday, March 24, 2007

How do you allow prospects to get closer to your product?

Have you ever been miffed when trying to test out a product from a website?

It amazes me at times when I go to websites and when I want to demo or test drive a product I'm either given a message such as "Fill out a form and someone will contact you", sent to a fact-sheet with boring statistics or a powerpoint presentation opens that shows me nice pictures of happy people. That isn't what I want! I want to test out your product so I can evaluate it myself before I have a salesperson call me or before I invest anymore time in your company!

Thought Leaders Need to Keep Thinking

There are different ways that you can interact with prospects on the web but it's time that companies start to smarten up. Call it web 2.0 or the YouTube generation - whatever - people expect more from the web and they expect more from your website. It's time to think outside the box on how you can show off your products and services. Yes, thought leadership is also crucial. This involves demonstrating that your company is at the forefront of your industry and contains the best and the brightest people. The idea around thought leadership is to draw people to your business but once they are there, then what? Throw them a bone and show them that you're more then ideas - you have a product that has what they need to succeed.

Allow me to engage and interact with your product!

I'm finding more and more that the car manufacturers are at the forefront of this movement to take the web to the next level. Some campaigns like the one from Nissan I've criticized for their lack of authenticity and others like Mini and Honda I've praised for their uniqueness and marketing savvy.

A new campaign that I've found by Lexus is an ingenious one. In order to demonstrate how safe their vehicles are, they've created a microsite called If you go the site it doesn't just go to a microsite straightaway but opens up the real Lexus site to their 2008 RX product page and then opens up the microsite as a site overlay. This brilliant as it solves one of the dilemmas as to how marketers can drive we visitors back to the main site. OK... back to the microsite. To show you how safe the car is, they show you a picture of the front end mashed up and allow you to actually fix the car by pulling the front end of the car (see image)! This shows you that if your in a front-end accident that the car folds up nicely without injuring the occupants. This is obviously appealing to the target market and what's most important is that they are not just saying that safety is important - they allow you to see it and try it for yourself. This is a great use of flash technology and allows the web visitor to really engage in the product which is brilliant.

Some other elements that I liked on the microsite is that they allow you to do some of the other "standard features" (they're standard now) like "building" your own car and finding a dealership. The effect here is to build one interactive experience on another. You can always close the window and you;re on the main Lexus site. Lexus is taking this further by using similar storefront displays that allow passer-bys to "fix" the cars using body movements. This is a great way to combine the web and non-web experience and drive home the message.

Remember that the more that you actually engage your prospects and stand out from your competitors, the more likely they will want to engage with you. It's time to think how you can apply this approach to your product or service.

Chad H.


~Jim Tobin said...

A lot of this is by marketers who haven't realized that Web 2.0 stuff means that they can't keep control anymore.

Well, I guess they can, but it will drive people away from them and toward the folks giving them what they want.

Progressive Insurance is a GREAT example of this. "Hey, everyone is going to look up rates anyway, let's let them do it on our site."

I can't imagine they had unanimous buy-in on that particular idea, but they gave up control and got huge gain in market share.

~Jim Tobin

Chad said...

Jim - thanks for your comment. Your definitely right about progressive insurance and user generated content in general. People are talking about your brand so you mind as well control the conversation and provide a popular area to foster and guide this conversation. If you don't people will direct their own conversation and you will have less control over it.




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