On MSVC 2010 and Sales Text

I upgraded to MSVC 2010 yesterday. Primarily for compatibility reasons — MSVC 2005 is not as common anymore and it is getting harder for people to write plugins, etc with it.

The back of the box had this beautiful feature list:

This is interesting to me as one of the things I’ve been slowly working on over the last year is doing a better job on the marketing and sales side of World Machine. There’s a common “golden rule” for writing convincing text: Tell how your product enables the user, do not just list a feature.

This is a great idea actually, as unless you know exactly what kinds of features you’re looking for, a feature list is pointless. However, the above makes me realize something:

When selling to technical people, throw out your normal rules.

I’m going to pick out a couple particularily glaring examples from above:

 

  1. Accelerate the coding process using your existing skills.
  2. Now practically anything is possible, virtually anywhere.
  3. Be more creative to build richer experiences for Windows
  4. Spend more time imagining the possibilities with [powerful editing tools]

 

None of these tell me anything at all about the product! I have no idea off the top of my head if MSVC 2010 actually has dramatically improved the coding process with an innovative new IDE, better design tools, etc…. or if they’re simply havingĀ  a creative writing session on the back of the box. And I’m inclined to naturally think the latter.

To me, this is a good example of terribly misapplied marketing. They could have sold me with C++0X standards support.. or multimonitor support, or any of the other new things. Instead I got a list of fluff.

The Lesson

If I were to try and distill down the self inflicted marketing wounds above into guidelines for myself as I pursue better marketing techniques, it would look something like this:

  1. Explain how you’ve made your users’ life easier by enabling them to do [blank] but…
  2. Also show them how/why they can achieve this result

You must satisfy both of the above at the same time to convince a technical user. Failure to follow this advice will make your carefully tweaked and sweated over sales text be simply bypassed and ignored as a “content-free zone”.

With that food for thought, I know I can certainly improve the presentation of World Machine on the website when I next have some time to devote to wearing that hat!