Best Practices for Marketing Complex Products and Services

In the Information Age, consumers often have very short attention spans. There’s simply so much content out there competing for your attention. Even the typical 30-second TV commercial has become too long for many consumers to focus on. At the same time, technology becomes increasingly sophisticated. Squeezed in the middle of these two trends are those poor souls trying to tell the market about their revolutionary, spectacular product or service that happens to be extremely complicated. Maybe it’s a sophisticated algorithm for boosting market research or sales conversions. Maybe it’s a more eco-friendly technology that also offers impressive price savings. How does one successfully get the message across about these offerings without losing the attention of the audience?

Randy Milanovic, writing for Kayak, offers several tips for marketers who find themselves in this situation, and his pieces is worth a read; however, the one strategy that we feel is the most crucial, and which Milanovic himself puts at the top of his list is this: emphasize benefits over technical details.

Focusing on benefits over technical detail is more important than ever before, but savvy marketers have understood this for years. Print magazine shows a great example of this in an 1898 newspaper ad for an early automobile being advertised by the Winton Motor Carriage Company of Cleveland, Ohio. The ad starts with huge letters in all caps stating simply: “DISPENSE WITH A HORSE.” It doesn’t describe how the internal combustion engine works. At the bottom of the add it mentions, “The hydrocarbon motor is simple and powerful.”

As Milanovic writes, “The big mistake technical companies make is burying prospects in details, when all they really want to know is why the product or service is important.” Some segment of your market will certainly be fascinated by how your product or service works. They have analytical minds and love knowing the nuts and bolts. And maybe some of them will purchase what you’re selling simply based on that curiosity. But the vast majority care first and foremost about how you’re going to make their life better. It’s the “so what” element marketers need to focus on.

There are many important strategies that can be employed to make a complex product or service more relatable to your target audience. But the biggest key in our experience is to focus not on the complexity of the offering, but on the simplicity of the obvious benefits.

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