Looking for inspiration for your B2B interactive demo? Learnings from Microsoft’s PC Scout

Looking for inspiration for your B2B interactive demo? Learnings from Microsoft’s PC Scout

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.


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