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August 31, 2010

Not for use in the microwave

In this post, Ann Padley describes the value of showing how your products and services fit into your customers’ lives –

Ann PadleyI was recently invited to one of those “at home” parties. You know the type. The hostess invites all of her “friends” over. You are all pitched revolutionary new products that will change your lives by keeping your food fresh longer, making your house smell better or transforming your husband into a grill-master.

Sometimes at these parties I actually leave convinced that the quality of the product is worth every penny. Other times – okay most of the time – I leave realizing that my friend made out like a bandit with free stuff, the sales lady just made 38 percent commission and I paid twice as much for a candle that looks surprisingly like the one I bought at Target® yesterday.

This was one of those parties.

I stopped listening to the presentation about five minutes in. I was lost at the words, ‘not microwave safe, not for the freezer – no, you really shouldn’t put them in the dishwasher either.’ Really? What would I use them for then?

While the presentation continued, my mind wandered back to a presentation that my teammate Brenda had recently made on how ideas spread. She shared with us the characteristics that successful ideas, concepts and even products tend to share:

1. Easy-to-understand advantage
2. Fits with life
3. Easy-to-use
4. Can ‘test drive’
5. Can ‘see’ the benefits

The ‘at home’ company clearly had the ‘test drive’ down! The products were right there in front of 15 people who could hold them, test them and even see a demo of them in action. They were definitely easy to use – open the lid, close the lid – the lids fit and were even color-coded. But, as a consumer, I was lost was at the point of understanding how the product fit with my life. And from there, the benefits and advantages disappeared.

Let’s say I were to buy this container. I would use it to bring my lunch to work. Yum, homemade garlic ginger stir fry! When lunch time comes I would – wait – I can’t microwave it. I need a plate, which means two dishes to wash instead of one. It’s okay, I’ll just put them in the – wait – I can’t put the container in the dishwasher, either.

This overpriced dish clearly would not fit my lifestyle. I’m glad I didn’t buy it.

If you own, run or even work at a business, take a minute to think about this. Do your products and services meet the five criteria above? If so, do your customers know that? Make sure to keep these tips in mind as you begin your next marketing campaign. I know I will!

If you are interested in learning more about how ideas spread, take a look at the book Diffusion of Innovations by Everett Rogers.