In the world of B2B communications a well executed interactive demo can be a powerful marketing tool. A number of our clients depend on demos to turn leads into customers (and sometimes to generate leads). But a good demo can be pricey as it requires a strategy, complicated production that can include video, audio, animation and copywriting, as well as a tactical plan and execution to put it in front of the relevant audiences.
So when we come across a demo with a bit of investment behind it we scrutinise it and then apply any gained insights to the work we do for our clients. Yesterday, I played with the PC Scout demo/microsite from Microsoft, which I found very interesting.
3 things the demo does well:
- It is relevant – it addresses a genuine need Microsoft customers have.
- It has the right content and tone of voice – it is simple, comprehensive, friendly and engaging (if slightly patronising).
- It keeps its eye on the ball – is well branded with a strong, but not overpowering, push towards purchasing Microsoft products.
3 areas or weakness:
- Visually it is ghastly – poorly executed images and illustrations, zero visual excitement and the typography is so homogeneous and sterile it makes reading an arduous task.
- Poor user experience – nowadays, the average consumer has much higher standards when it comes to interactive environments, navigation design, responsiveness, sign-posting and impact than this demo has to offer; you can’t even play it full screen.
- Voiceover is a show stopper: The affable voice that guides us through the demo must have sounded like a good idea on paper. The problem is that it is so overwhelmingly cuddly it requires a visually rich interface to match it; I wanted the experience to be as lively as the voiceover matching, not only the content but also the accents, highlights, mannerisms and pauses. I also wanted to see who was talking which distracted me from following the narrative.
Dos and Don’ts for your B2B demo:
- Do create a demo that talks more about solving the problem than selling a product.
- Do understand your audience and create an experience that matches their expectations, not yours. You might even need to create variations of the demo to target segments of your audience.
- Do define the distribution and promotion channels so that the demo can be optimised to perform well across all (I wrote about the iPad challenge a few days ago)
- Don’t take production lightly and try to do it on the cheap. Use actors and not relatives, record audio in a studio and not your office, hire experienced designers and not your marketing executive, keep $1-a-pop stock photography to the minimum and put someone in charge who understands communication and storytelling.
- Don’t create a glorified PowerPoint. Give them something to remember with a rich, responsive experience; bring content to life with the use of video, animation and audio; commisison infograhics to replace text where possible.
Despite its shortcomings, the PC Scout microsite has been extremely successful according to this Marketing Sherpa case study on the topic: 3.4 million US consumers visited the site in 2010 and overall satisfaction hit 80%.
Check out some samples from our portfolio of interactive demos on Flickr.