Actionable take-aways from this post:
- Offering technical product information in all stages of the consumer’s buying cycle is key.
- Which product information needs to be presented when varies along the buying cycle.
- The format in which the information is presented defines the winners and losers.
- It is all about visuals today; videos and pictures on YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat
- Which snippets of your product information work best in what format in each stage.
Today’s buying choices are not made instore. That is no news in itself. Numerous sources like ThinkWithGoogle discuss micro-moments to make us aware of real-life situations and consumers’ behavior in buying cycles, pointing out that the buyers’ decision is made in many small steps.
The younger we are the more we research online before we buy. For instance 72% of Millennials research and shop their options online before going to a store or the mall. Young generations don’t know any better than to Google for something they want or need to solve, but this is not about young generations only. We all have become obsessed with research before we buy or decide, no matter how big or small the investment is. And that is exactly why you as a brand should be the adviser these consumers are searching for during all these small steps.
This topic is not about explaining which small steps a consumer takes before hitting the store or getting his credit card to check out online. This topic discusses the growing importance of product information that lives within your technical documentation to be present as soon as consumers start to look for inspiration, and not only after they bought your product. Neglecting this will costs you customers and poor execution of how to present it will cause frustration, both of which negatively affect your brand as a trusted source.
On top of this younger generations typically look for authenticity first, before even considering you as a trusted source. Hence, the influence of traditional advertisement and commercials on those audiences decreased dramatically, but blogs, reviews and recommendations are the way to go. Being a trusted source or being named by one is vital for consumers to even consider you as their potential supplier. But how can you be named if there is no to-the-point content to be found representing your offering?
Poor execution of providing your technical product information is done quickly. Just being there is not enough, it can even harm you. It’s about being there in the right way. Consumers get more demanding when it comes to how they want to consume your content. It is all about their ‘easiest’ way possible.
Let me define ‘easiest’ before I continue. ‘Easiest’ means ‘immediate’, ‘to-the-point’, ‘exact’ and ‘smooth’. ‘Easiest’ doesn’t mean things like searching, browsing, clicking, scrolling, translating, waiting or ‘wasting my time’. So dumping a full PDF of your product’s manual on a smartphone is not exactly perceived as helpful.
Meeting customer’s expectations from the start is key in order for your product to be even considered. In order to win the customer it is vital for brands to feed consumers with the right product information at the right time – not too little, not too much – to-the-point and in the right format.
It starts with inspiration. Your hopefully customer-to-be doesn’t know what they want to start with, so they need to be inspired by friends, peers and also by the brands they trust. As a brand you can support this phase by offering Tips & Tricks videos providing product specifications, making it easy to understand the added value of your product and how it compares to others. Also blogs and video statements of your brand on certain topics make sure you get recognized in these early stages.
As soon as the consumers made up their mind, they want to know what your brand can offer them. So make sure you have relevant and specific product information available as soon as they consider buying your products. You now have to convince them with how-to videos, pack shots, comparison and product videos. All of which represents your technical product information, already for the sale. Understand that all this easy-to-go content is part of the product that you sell. Products with poor or hard to find support content underperform today. So doing it well sets you apart from today’s competition.
After convincing the customer, supporting your customer continues. Slideshows with product capabilities, FAQ videos and common problem walk-through videos address those customers in need of support wherever they want and whenever they need. Servicing these customers this way also relieves call centers and TCO of these customers. And if you do well these customers are the trusted peers and influencers of your tomorrow’s customers, but either if you miss out on all of this or you mess up….
founder & ceo
 The Intelligence Group (TIG), a division of Creative Artists Agency