How To Make Your Product Stand Out

Marketing, more often than not, is about the quality of the stories we tell.

Just as it’s hard to make someone understand something if their livelihood depends on them not understanding it, telling someone a story they want and need to hear is the quickest way to get them to take action.

Lorna Jane make activewear for women. Stylish, well-made, fashionable activewear.

But lots of people sell activewear. How do you stand out?

One approach is to start with the tribe of people you want to reach.

Is this for someone who thinks that working out and looking good should go hand in hand?

Is it for someone who wants to know the clothes they buy feature expert craftsmanship, and are ethically sourced?

What are their preconceptions? Their biases? What are they willing to pay extra for?

Do your buyers want to be able to customise your product and make it personal for them?

Brands that succeed start aren’t those that shout the loudest, they’re the ones that start with the worldview of their customers.

One of the things I found amazing about working at Global was how they had so many brands that were so different under one roof (covering music genres from pop music, to urban, to dance, to classical) and yet, each brand had an incredibly loyal and devoted following.

They achieved this because each brand had such a strong understanding of who it was for (and who it was not for).

So many marketers (especially in tech) start with the features. “Here’s our product!” they say. “It has this widget and that widget and it costs this much. Would you like to buy it?”

Instead, start with the buyer. Does the buyer want something easy to use, battle-tested, powerful, differentiated, commodity, analyst-approved, trendy … what am I going to tell my boss about buying this? Ultimately the purchase I make is going to reflect on me. It’s about how I’m going to feel when I power up the software, open the box, turn on the radio, put on my jogging pants.

It takes real confidence to take this approach, as by its very nature, it means excluding people. Maybe your product isn’t really for the power user, and gives up some cutting edge features for the sake of ease of use.

Maybe the care and attention you put into the design process means that you can’t cater to orders from big box retailers and make a profit.

So many people go the other way. They make their widget and then they try to find a group of people to sell their widget to. It almost never works.

Identify a worldview, a set of biases, an ideal customer, and then figure out how to tell a story that resonates with that customer.

It’s thinking like this that gave birth to brands like Patagonia, Subaru and Atlassian.

Maybe it’ll work for you too.

The Art Of Pitching Your Product

Let’s talk about how to make presentations at FinTech events suck less. Listen closely, and I’ll explain.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending an entrepreneur meetup in the FinTech space. More and more of these events are popping up in London now, and it’s always interesting to learn about new FinTech companies.

Always Be Educating

The presentations were brief, mostly interesting, and posed lots of interesting questions about the direction of FinTech moving forward. But they were quite product-y. Now that’s fine – sometimes you’re there to pitch a product, but when you are pitching, you should be educating too. Offer me a new way of looking at FinTech. Give me facts and figures about the industry – if I’m calling you up on stuff you’ve missed, you’re doing it wrong.

Also, make sure that your message is pitched to the right audience. If there are no investors in the room, you’re only going to confuse people by making a pitch for funding.

Keep it Simple

Events like this are always full of people I love and admire. You always get to talk to smart people who are making a difference through their work.

But … as I was listening it was clear that all of the presentations were being delivered by people who know and care a lot about their subject. That’s fine, but the risk is that they assume that their audience know about the subject or are as involved in it as they are.

When your subject is telephone wholesale minutes or the minutiae of international supply chains, that’s not a fair ask to make of your audience. I saw a lot of people who were visibly ‘lost’ during the presentations.

As a presenter, you owe it to your audience to keep your talk simple, and break difficult to understand concepts are broken down. Never, never do a presentation without running it past someone who works outside your industry first.

Mentally prepare yourself first

It always helps me to take a little time immediately before my talk to rehearse what I’m going to say in my head. You don’t want those first few lines to be awkward, and you want to have a strong finish. Ideally, you should know exactly what you want to say for these.

Also – try to avoid mingling too much with the other attendees before your talk. This might sound counter-intuitive, but I’ve often found that it distracts focus from the talk you have to give. Some of the best speakers I’ve seen withdraw slightly in the ten minutes before a presentation just to get the focus they need. Prime yourself as an athlete would.

As you’re giving the talk, maintain eye contact with your audience and maintain enthusaism for your subject. If it sounds like you’re giving a canned stump speech, your audience is going to tune out pretty quickly. This can be a big problem if you have to give the same talk a number of times in succession – you know where the laugh lines are, but you have to deliver it as though it’s the first time you’ve given the talk.

Whatever you do – finish on a strong statement (never “And that’s it.”), always ask for questions (and sound like you actually want questions!) and make your slides available afterwards. You never know who might be in the audience.