What’s one of the best ways to convert potential clients into paying customers? Aside from presentations where you get to wow your audience, there’s another scenario where you can achieve the same results. Imagine it: You already have a prototype of the product you’re trying to market, and you’re looking for people who will gladly take your offer; you think an amazing deck won’t be enough, so you decide to take things up a notch and do a demo.
However, you don’t know the first thing about product demos. Sure, you’re a rock star when it comes to presentations and public speaking, but demonstrations can be different. For one, instead of handling two important elements—yourself and your deck—you add one more: your product. And balancing that act can be stressful, especially when you’ve got hundreds of eyes staring at you and you know that a lot is at stake. Another is that there’s a new dynamic in audience engagement, a level that places you closer to them—and them to you and your product.
Look at the bright side, though. If you do remarkably well, then you’re sure that your audience will take a good, long, hard look at your product. And when they like what they see, they might just want to have your offer. Then, you’re on your way to closing deals left and right. But that is if you do remarkably well.
So, how do you go from A to Z of a product demo? What can you expect from showing off your product in front of a live audience? Are there even benefits to doing so? How do you even begin preparing and how do you start off a demo? Let the following infographic tutor you on the basics of a product demo, and the dos and don’ts during the proverbial curveballs during your time onstage.
If you’ve been to the more mainstream conventions of recent years, like Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Mobile World Congress, and The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), then you know what the experience is like. Right off the gate, you have long lines of participants waiting to get in. Upon entering, you’re greeted with any of the following: booths filled to the brim with products and memorabilia, guests carrying freebies and whatnot from other exhibits, etc. You can hear multiple voices and gimmicks coming from everywhere. There are too many sights ahead and overhead.
Mind you, these are major events, with conglomerates from all over the world sending their representatives for the chance to present in one the industry’s biggest stages. If you’re in a relatively smaller fair, though, do you need to be well-advertised?
Yes—or at least emulate how the big names draw people to their booths. A primary benefit of this type of gathering is that you can interact with your potential customers face to face—arguably the best way to engage them—instead of through different schemes, screens, and means.
Before that, however, you must get their attention. How? By employing the following.
When you have a working model of your product or service, you’re in a prime position to show potential consumers a demonstration of how it works: its strengths and unique traits that make it different from competitors’ offers. The best thing is that they get to see it firsthand and up close, if not outright experience the quality-of-life improvement.
Alternatively, you could let them try it themselves. A free trial can give potential customers a taste of how to handle your item and immediately experience the help you’re offering. When you leave them wanting for more, you’ve got them hooked.
Small activities that get the blood pumping and let participants win are good icebreakers for you. The point is enjoying their presence. The more you let them feel that they’re important to your booth—and by extension your company—the more you pique their interest and start and deepen bonds. Even new relationships can go deeper than usual when customers have fun with you.
That’s the main point of this activity. You seek to leave a very good first impression upon your booth visitors. When that release of dopamine, serotonin, and possibly adrenaline hits them, that triggers a connection that they remember from your exhibit and your brand.
When people visit your booth and have fun, you want to have a record of that. And they will too. Taking photographs is a good way of providing yourself with a good reminder of each customer, but you can take it one step further. Share those pictures on your social media platforms (don’t forget your hashtags) and tag them.
Better yet, ask if they can upload it on their own pages. And lucky you if they do. It’s like a visual representation of word of mouth: the more their personal connections see your stuff and how the poster enjoyed your booth, the more curious they become. They can also become leads given time and the proper attention.
Live Social Media Updates
People usually tweet and post updates about everything, especially when in a state of euphoria. What follows is a long series of statements about how great the event is and how nice the people are, which are often accompanied by pictures to hype everything up.
You could do the same. By giving your online audience a sneak peek, you not only update those who couldn’t come but also give an idea, or at least some level of expectation, on what future participants can experience the next time you’re going to a trade show.
At the end of the day, you’re going to look back on how and why those people went up to your booth and listened to what you have said. If you’re wondering why so many visited your spot, then think no more. Your attention grabbers worked beautifully. You may soon see more visitors because other attendees saw how fun your booth is. Isn’t that your end goal? To have people know about your venture?
Will traditional means of promotion cut it? Don’t expect your competitors to skimp on the basics—since they don’t expect you to cut corners on the same. When you’re all on equal footing, the deciding factor becomes the extra mile you’re willing to take to hook people in, to show them and let them experience something memorable, and to make them come back.
Are you willing to do it?
Biala, Susan. “How to Boost Your ‘Happy Hormones’.” Best Health Magazine. October 2014. www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/mental-health/how-to-boost-your-happy-hormones
Fusion, Jennn. “Trade Show Promotional Ideas.” Chron. n.d. smallbusiness.chron.com/trade-show-promotional-ideas-1444.html
Hovde, Kristin. “5 Trade Show Promotion Ideas for More Engagement.” TSNN. August 24, 2014. www.tsnn.com/news-blogs/5-trade-show-promotion-ideas-more-engagement
James, Geoffrey. “Give a Great Product Demo: 5 Rules.” Inc. May 24, 2012. www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/give-a-great-product-demo-5-rules.html
Kaufenberg, Jackie. “19 Ways to Integrate Social Media into Your Next Tradeshow or Event.” Vivid Image. August 13, 2014. www.vimm.com/social-media-tradeshow
Thimmesch, Mike. “10 Top Tips for Trade Show Promotions.” Skyline. November 16, 2011. www.skylinetradeshowtips.com/10-top-tips-for-trade-show-promotions
Wyse, Susan E. “7 Tips to Market Your Business Effectively at Trade Shows.” Snap Surveys. April 10, 2012. www.snapsurveys.com/blog/7-tips-market-business-effectively-trade-shows
“12 Trade Show and Event Promotion Mistakes to Avoid.” Skyline E3. February 7, 2017. www.skylinee3.com/blog/12-trade-show-and-event-promotion-mistakes-to-avoid
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During a product demo, the priority is to turn the spotlight on the many advantages of the product you’re pitching. We talk about all the ins and outs of the product, focusing on what makes it the best compared to what’s currently available on the market.
This was the approach that Robert Falcone of brand personalization specializer, Monetate, has tried, tested, and proven ineffective. In an interview with First Round Review, Falcone shared his experience delivering hundreds of product demos with very little success. Finally, after research and practice, he found that knowing a product doesn’t make a demo successful.
What a product demo actually needs is a change in the usual perspective. Instead of focusing on features and advantages, Falcone learned that he needed to cater his demos for the audience.
Now, one of the easiest and biggest mistakes he sees is that companies don’t effectively craft their demo to fit their specific audience—i.e. they don’t distill their dozens of features and selling points into the few that will really resonate with this particular investor, prospect, or even prospective employee.
To do this, here are the strategies that he found to be effective:
The 5-minute “discovery session”
We often discuss the importance of learning as much as you can about the audience beforehand. Part of your preparation should always include doing some legwork and research to learn basic information about the people you’re about to face. Falcone takes this advice one step further with what he calls the 5-minute discovery session. Before you start your presentation, take a few minutes to ask the audience what they want.
The best strategy for this: “Be upfront with the people you’re talking to. Say outright, ‘I’m going to start off today’s conversation by taking just five minutes to ask you a few questions so that I can understand which features will be most important for you.’ That way, you’re all on the same page. You’ve framed things in a strong, clear, logical way, and you already have them participating in a dialogue.”
If this sounds a bit odd, you should look at it this way: your product demo is an opportunity to start a conversation with your prospects. To learn the best way you can be of service to them, you need to engage with them.
The usual product demo isn’t dynamic at all. The presenter just delivers his pitch and gets politely thanked at the end. If you really want to gain an opportunity to actually communicate the benefits you can provide, you shouldn’t be afraid to open the door.
Start with the outcome
As Falcone said, customers aren’t compelled to try a product because it’s the best in the market. They consider a product because it promises to give them something they want or need. In other words, they’re looking at the outcome. They want to know how your product will affect their life or solve their problems.
You want your audience to envision, and if possible, experience what life with your service or product will be like. Then, once they have that in mind, you can back up and show them why things will be so much better. It’s part of anticipating that ‘after’ state you want to ask about during discovery, and addressing it right away.
Before detailing all the features and selling points, start your product demo by outlining the outcome. Tell your prospects what they should expect out of your product and how it will help answer the problems they shared with you during the discovery session.
Move from macro to micro
When you’re finally ready to discuss product details, make sure you structure the demo in a way that’s easy to follow. Start by providing the audience with a macro view of your product before going into a micro view. This way you can present a general premise before moving on to more nuanced and detailed discussion.
You have to remember that most people you demo to will probably know nothing about what you’re about to present or how it works. If you get into the weeds too fast because you’re worried about dumbing things down or not being subtle enough, you’ll lose.
The objective of a demo isn’t just to introduce a new product. You want to make sure your prospects understand everything about the product you’re offering. How can they decide to make a sale if they leave your pitch confused?
Silence can push the dialogue further
A lot of presenters are scared of silence, but Falcone asserts that it can be an important part of a product demo. Instead of trying to cover up awkward silences with long explanations, let it play out and use it to your advantage.
[Falcone] found that this keeps him from going off topic just to fill the void, and if he waits for a bit before answering a question, he has more time to be thoughtful about his response. Best of all, someone else in the room may jump in to supply more context about what they want or need.
Instead of grasping for something to say, allow silences to play out organically. Use the time to think about what you’ll say next, or wait for the audience to bring up their own points and perspectives. Whatever happens, you’ll find that it can actually help add a dynamic quality to a product demo.
Keep the floor open for questions and answers
Lastly, your product demo will also benefit from taking and answering questions early on. Doing so will definitely contribute to creating an open dialogue feel to your presentation. It also encourages your audience to take an active part in the discussion, allowing them to see that this pitch is all about their needs.
Aside from that, you should also address questions to the audience. As Falcone pointed out, this is your opportunity to “keep people engaged and facilitate learning on both sides“. In particular, there are three types of questions you can ask.
You can ask an open-ended question, which starts the conversation. Then there’s the “point question”. It’s completely rhetorical and serves to emphasize the point you’re trying to make. Finally, you can also ask a “response question”. This is something you pull out when an audience asks you something that’s a bit tricky to answer.
A product demo is an opportunity to reach out to potential customers and clients. At this point, you want to make sure that you present an outcome that is beneficial to them. Make sure you listen to their needs by following these strategies. You can also improve your chances through powerful visuals.
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