April 07, 2005
Do new prospects instantly understand what your product or service is all about and why they need it ASAP? Probably not. The hardest marketing collateral to create is an elevator pitch -- a quick explanation that's both easily understandable and extremely compelling, even to a layperson. Discover how one enterprise software marketer created a two-minute explainer online presentation to use in his marketplace. Bonus: includes a practical chart showing where each piece of typical marketing collateral fits in the sales cycle...
Over the last two-three years the business process management field has exploded. Marketers for decade-old BPM software company Ultimus were bemused to find themselves in a hot "new" industry.
In the past, prospects came in the door with a fairly high degree of BPM knowledge. They knew what their pain points were, researched who the top players were, and decided now was the time to get some specs and estimates.
But now, as marketer George Harter explains, the floodgates opened. Ultimus was deluged by prospects who had heard about BPM, knew it was really important, but weren't sure why or how.
"Either they or their supervisor read an article and heard BPM could make their organization much more productive. When you asked them, 'Well, what process would you like to make more efficient?' they had no idea."
Instead of explaining why Ultimus was the best, the hapless sales rep would have to do 101 education about the entire technology.
And, as with all complex products, that elevator pitch wasn't easy.
"The verbal description can get a little verbose," says Harter. "First you have to define what a business process is, and suddenly their eyes glaze over and they have no idea what you're talking about."
With more than 100 eager-to-encroach competitors, Ultimus didn't want to let any of these prospects fall to the ground, even if the sales process might take a bit longer than with traditional prospects. So, the marketing team had to come up with some kind of marketing collateral that would quickly educate prospects ... in an easy-to-digest format.
Figuring a picture is worth a thousand words, the marketing team decided to create a "Two Minute Explainer" -- a brief audio-visual presentation. Developed in Flash, it could be posted on a Web site or played from a sales rep's PC. (See below for link to sample.)
The creative team had five rules:
Rule #1. Brevity
The presentation couldn't go beyond two minutes no matter what. So the core goal had to be pared down. The Explainer would not replace a regular sales presentation -- instead it would serve as a "prequel" to a detailed presentation.
Rule #2. Entertainment
If you already know your topic makes "eyes glaze over" even for the best-intentioned prospects, you need to add a little entertainment flavor to your presentation. However, unlike starting a long speech with a joke to engage the audience, with just two minutes to get the entire message across you can't let the entertainment go off-topic.
So the team created a little cartoon character -- a purchase requisition with arms, legs and a face -- and showed its struggles to move from desk to desk in a typical organization.
Rule #3. Frequently-varying visuals
Two minutes is a long time for an executive to watch a canned presentation online without a human sales rep in the room to help keep focus. Once the eye drifts for an instant, you've lost them. And what if the phone rings, or email beeps?
So the Explainer featured constantly varying graphics to continually re-engage the eye, including: o The aforementioned cartoon o Hand-drawn "game play"-style flow charts o Classic flow charts o Software demo shots o Colorful piecharts and diagrams o Checklist charts of features and benefits Plus, the team added a mini-presentation -- a constantly changing list of customer names -- to the very start of the presentation so prospects had something engaging to watch while they waited for the entire flash video to load. (This is critical to reduce your initial abandonment rate.)
Rule #3. Tweak software screenshots
If you use a screenshot directly from your software product to illustrate functionality, chances are it will (a) contain extraneous information that distracts from your point and (b) be hard to read at a glance because the typeface is too small.
So the team tweaked their screenshots, slicing off unimportant content and blowing up anything they hoped a viewer would read.
Rule #4. Graphics must stand on their own
The team assumed some viewers would have the sound turned off on their computers, so the graphical presentation had to be able to stand on its own without voiceover.
Rule #5. End by asking for the next step
As a "prequel" naturally the presentation needed to carry prospects to the next step in the sales process. The end couldn't be "the end." So the last screen prominently featured just three options: o A phone number to call o A main Web URL to go to (Ultimus' home page) o A fat Click Here button for more information
Anyone clicking on the button was sent to a brief registration form where they could sign up to view their choice of a canned or live detailed webinar presentation. Scripting the Explainer was possibly the toughest part of the job. The copywriter followed three rules:
Copy rule #1. Cut sales talk, buzz words, and jargon -- if you are talking about how your company is "the leader" it's boring, useless copy.
Copy rule #2. Make it (much) shorter than you think. Words give "punctuation" and emphasis to the graphics, not the other way around.
Copy rule #3. Assume English is not everyone's first language. Ultimus has offices in more than a dozen countries. While some offices decided to translate the narration, others didn't and this narrative had to work for all.
The marketing team distributed the new Explainer through four key venues -- obviously they stuck a link on the home page of the site. They also added a link in any email newsletters and promos that customers and already-engaged prospects might pass on to newbies to the field. And, they routinely added a link in lead generation direct postal mail campaigns. (Link to creative sample below.)
However, perhaps the most important distribution path was via the sales team. Harter presented the Explainer at the big quarterly sales meeting and detailed how reps could use it.
Plus, he distributed a handy one-page PDF chart to everyone that clearly showed where the Explainer (as well as all other marketing collateral) fit in the sales and buying cycle.
Note: We adore this chart and think you should swipe the idea immediately. See below for a link to a sample.
"The sales reps love it," says Harter. "Our sales people gave us positive feedback in the very first month." In fact if a sales rep now finds themselves on the phone with a non-knowledgeable prospect, he or she will often ask the prospect to watch the Explainer right then and there while the rep holds.
The link from the home page -- which isn't enormously prominent -- gets an unexpectedly high play rate. Harter's analytics reports indicate that 16% of unique visitors view the Explainer.
That's thousands of educated prospects per month.
Best of all, the entire application cost less than $10,000 to create. That's just pennies per prospect it's reached so far.
Useful links related to this story:
Creative samples including the Explainer: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/ultimus/study.html
Business Information Graphics - the marketing agency that created and copywrote the Explainer for Ultimus: http://2minuteexplainer.com