From We to Them or from Product to Meaning

Maybe you know this feeling: You have the best product or have worked for weeks on the perfect service. Now everything is finally in place. Now the customers should actually come all by themselves. Word must get around about the great features of this product. Well, it doesn’t happen all by itself.

So you start a marketing campaign, have a website programmed that describes all the amazing features of your great new product down to the last detail, and even go to the appropriate trade fair. There you show everyone your great product and explain all the components. But hardly anyone buys. What’s going on there? Do the customers simply not understand? What are you doing wrong?

From product to application

Customers don’t buy products because it has the greatest features — with a few exceptions. Products (or services) have functionalities. These functionalities can be used for certain things. These are the applications and that is what customers are much more interested in. Let’s take a razor as an example. I want to trim my beard. So I go to Amazon or another online shop or the nearest shop (impossible right now because of Corona, unfortunately) and search for beard trimming. I’m not looking for 8 attachments and titanium hardened blades. Or why do you think barbecued meat sells so well at the butchers in the summer? Because it’s ready-grilled meat and therefore directly prepared for the desired application. That is much easier (and more expensive) to sell than a piece of meat and a little extra marinade. The same applies to all B2B companies. Every product can be used for certain industries, for certain fields, and for certain applications. As a rule, customers are looking for exactly these terms. It is just too bad that this information is not displayed first on many company websites, but that the products are presented in epic breadth-first.

From application to meaning

Most customers make an emotional decision to buy a product and later justify the purchase rationally. Emotion is the decisive lever with which I can convince the customer. I have to know what meaning the product has for him. What are the important meanings for buying something new?

The most important reasons for buying are:

To make money
Saving money
To save time
Avoiding effort
Get rid of pain
Be loved
Look better
Be better known
In a nutshell, every purchase is about relationships, health or wealth. With your product, you need to know which of these reasons should be responsible for your customer’s purchase. Let’s stay with the new razor. Maybe it’s about saving money (less frequent visits to the hairdresser), saving time (electric razor instead of wet shave), being loved (the girlfriend likes well-groomed beards) or generally looking better. Important: I have to make a decision. If I try to make it clear to the customer that my razor is responsible for all that, I will lose out to the specialist for better looks. So it’s best to always concentrate on one need. And put that right at the front. “The razor for the coolest cuts!” For the other needs, it could be “The razor for the neat beard in no time”. Or simply “Your wife will love it”. Combine the appropriate photos and concise instructions. Do you notice how much better this approach is than the approach with 7 attachments and titanium blades? Unfortunately, unfortunately — if you look at Amazon for electric shavers, you will see how it should not be done. Especially we in Germany, as a classic engineering country, still tend to be in love with our products. But selling works differently. This is especially true for many B2B companies.

What does that have to do with trust?

A lot. Customer orientation is one of the most important points to exude trustworthiness. Showing the potential customer that you understand him makes you trustworthy. Show them that you know their needs and have developed the right product for them.

This means for your website: Much more you than I, more you than we. The customer must be at the center. It should quickly become clear to your customer that you personally know how he uses the products and what they mean to him. This makes you a trustworthy supplier from whom he wants to buy. Or whom he wants to visit (doctor, lawyer, ….).

I have learned this in an infinite number of workshops with clients. The classic B2B company, of which I had many as clients with my digital agency, thinks of its product first. I like to have a structure here that shows how technologies become products and knowledge becomes services. Both are then often combined into services and used for sectors, specialist areas, and applications. The fact that each of these points can be a main navigation point on the website is difficult for many to comprehend at first. Since you should not have more than seven main points to keep it clear, you have to focus. But even directly in the second level, the individual points can still be treated very prominently, for example on individual pages for each industry and for each application. That’s great not only for search engine optimization but also for that. Above all, it conveys to my customers that I understand them. I know their industry, after all, there is a separate page for it. I know their application for the same reason. This creates trust and increases the likelihood of contact.

The restructuring of such websites has always led to an increase in the time spent on the site. The customer feels better met and stays longer. Putting meaning in the foreground is therefore always worthwhile.

Martin is a content marketing and trust expert, trust building coach and digital entrepreneur.