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John Assalian is the CEO of Viewstream, an award-winning creative digital agency for your business success.
Lumber. Software for HR. Insurance brokerages. Cleaning supplies. Drilling solutions. On the surface, these are decidedly unsexy products. But underneath, they solve real customer pain points and needs. Someone cares deeply about some aspect of all products. The question is: How do you bring out the cool? Read on to discover how to bring out the “sexy” in your products.
1. Focus on ‘why.’
Change your lens. Forget about the “what” and focus on the “why.” Looking at the company from the “why” changes the paradigm and allows creativity to shine. Take the drilling industry, for example. Why do we drill holes? To build tunnels, shorten commutes, grow cities. In short, drilling exists to make people and civilizations prosper. Uncover the emotion of your story by finding your “why” and expressing it authentically. No matter your industry, you are making an impact on someone’s life. Define that impact and you will have the key to communication.
2. Look to sponsors and influencers.
How does the nerd look cool at the prom? By bringing a great date. Associating your brand with an influencer known for something “cool,” like an LPGA golfer or semi-pro athlete, can make your products appeal to a larger range of consumers by tapping into existing emotions around a public figure or piece of narrative storytelling.
3. Bring context to the intrinsic value.
Numbers and data often speak louder than words to convey your desired value propositions. Once you understand the inherent value of your product to your audience, apply case studies, industry insights, research and data to demonstrate how others used your product to solve key problems and frustrations.
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4. Find your ‘purple cow.’
Talk to your clients and find out what delights them about your company. Your main differentiator in the marketplace is your sexiest selling point. In his 2003 book of the same name, Seth Godin called this differentiator your “purple cow” — that special something that makes your business remarkable. Playing it safe or tinkering around the edges simply doesn’t lead to breakout growth.
5. Highlight story-rich testimonials.
Neuroscience proves that we buy on emotion and justify with logic, so use story-rich testimonials to help your prospects see how their life will be better after they purchase from you, and you will convert leads to sales. Making a product sexy simply means making it compelling to your audience, and what’s more compelling than hearing a product’s benefits straight from the horse’s mouth?
6. Think outside your industry.
No great ideas start in a vacuum. Find out what your competitors are doing, then step outside your industry box and choose a “sexy” industry to emulate — like entertainment, sports or travel. Analyze their marketing strategies and mirror until you make it.
7. Create your visual hammer.
Words are great, but exciting visuals and immersive experiences help you stand out. Anything can become more compelling to the end user no matter the actual product’s look and feel. Combining creative photography, user interface design and controlled user experience with a solid storyline is the key. As marketing strategist Laura Ries wrote, find your “visual hammer” — that iconic image that imprints your product in the mind of consumers.
Are you more likely to listen to someone addressing a whole crowd of people or someone whispering in your ear? Focus on your core user and make yourself attractive to them, not the masses. Making a customer feel special ultimately makes your product look sexier because it shows you aren’t just desperate for anyone’s attention. You can even leverage data to deliver dynamic, personalized messages to each user based on information like age, gender or location. Take the data you have in front of you and dissect it to target the right people at the right time.
9. Own a position.
Positioning is the brand strategy discipline of defining a slice of the market you can own, then carrying out programs to communicate that difference. You can be something new to the world, or you can redefine the old. You can own a specific value proposition in the marketplace, or differentiate with outreach efforts like saving the planet, or even a specific product feature like Tinder’s “swipe right.” The point is: Own something.
10. Tie to a trend.
Take a page out of the PR playbook. Associate your products and branding with larger trends to leverage consumer emotions connected to a certain event or achieve a certain “cool factor” from staying on the pulse. One long-running instance of the former is Olympics season marketing that features triumphant athletic imagery alongside everything from yogurt to laundry detergent.
At the end of the day, you are marketing to a person. Don’t forget that your audience is human and experiences human feelings, reactions and challenges. Identify your customer’s problems and speak to them with empathy. Because talking to your audience in a direct and authentic way is ultimately the sexiest thing of all. Empathy is the center of a strong brand-customer relationship. The brand empathizes with a customer pain point and responds with an appropriate solution. Cut away the fluff and drill down to that core empathy exchange, and your brand will resonate no matter what you’re selling.
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Author: John Assalian, Forbes Councils Member