I often hear that Slovenians make great products, but we simply don’t have the know-how to sell them properly. Regardless of the industry. Of course, I first think that their products may not be that good and that the previous statement is just a convenient excuse. But unfortunately it is true that Slovenians have an engineering approach to development – at least in the IT industry. Too often we are focused only on what we can produce with our engineering skills and join the race to improve the technical characteristics of our product compared to our competitors.
Great developers think about the entire customer experience instead on focusing solely on the product that they are developing
Soft skills are rarely used in product development. Only a handful of companies manage to overcome their obsession with technical specifications when developing products. Slovenian IT companies that define their target group as well as predict the purchase stakeholders and their thinking to devise a customer engagement plan are truly a rare breed. This plan should be a comprehensive overview of the customer experience throughout the lifecycle of our relationship with the customer. Building a financial structure for the new product without a customer engagement plan relies on guesswork and wish lists, since serious planning and creating a solid business plan are impossible without it. You must have heard stories about great products that someone developed, but their salespeople were just incompetent and could not sell them. Customer focused companies should therefore think differently about product development and have a different view of the market. We could say that the story they want to tell with their product is the basis for its development.Start thinking about how to sell the product as soon as you start developing it. Click To Tweet
You cannot build the emotional potential of the product just by focusing on its technical characteristics
Stories should provide an emotional connection between the customer and the provider or their product. Good storytellers are able to engage people emotionally in their story. Their subtle messages provide layers to the story and raise the product above its technical characteristics that are easily comparable. This is what every company wants. Their customers should see the widest context of the product, their story. Even more – they want their customers to keep telling and sharing their story. This is the only way that these stories can become credible. This entire construct is a product of a successful storyteller.Only a good story provides an emotional connection to your brand. Click To Tweet
Most Slovenian companies (not only in the IT industry) have a poor awareness of the importance of their story and the story of their products. Even if they try to do something about it, they usually just go through the motions and don’t employ a systematic process with clear goals and success indicators. Posting an employment add for a Chief Storyteller raises quite a few eyebrows in Slovenia even if such work positions are nothing unusual in the global economy. Some googling showed me that Nike employed a Chief Storytelling Officer in the nineties, and that SAP has had that function from 2013.
Communicating goals and selling a means to an end
Marketing people have been more than happy to embrace the content marketing phenomenon, and this has lead us to the point where suddenly no one is interested in content any more. There is just too much content and it is too similar. Every marketer is trying to drown us in content. It is very rarely useful or even amusing. It seems like everyone is recreating the same content over and over again. People who used to think about the number of leaflets at exhibitions or were trying to find the right promotional gifts for customers are not necessarily capable of having a strategic overview of the market, products and the competitive value of their company. They are also not necessarily creative personalities with a knack for telling stories, but they are now creating content, because this is one of the main tasks of marketing today. The flood of low-quality content and the decreasing responsiveness of customers to it will slowly make managers realize that not everyone is suited for creating content just like they slowly realized that not everyone who works in a marketing department is a good designer.
The golden rule for creating marketing content is that the content you create should be useful or at least amusing. Since it is hard to be funny most of the time and it depends on the customers’ sense of humor, the content should most of all be useful. But is only a rule on the operational level that text writers should consider. The chief Storyteller in the company should have a wider perspective with a further reach. The best stories somehow shine some light on the goals that your customers are tying to achieve and products are only means to accomplishing these goals. Sales people love to talk to the customers about reaching their goals and the hurdles that they have to face on the way there. The job of the Chief Storyteller and marketing operations is assuring that this actually happens.
The customer will always have an easier time understanding the problem than its solution
You can often hear that it is not hard to write stories for sports equipment manufacturers like Nike, but it is practically impossible to write one for a company developing an IT system that supports manufacturing and storage for small and medium sized companies. I personally believe that the second case gives us even more room for creating a story. We just need to stop focusing our writing on selling software.For a good story you need to gain a good understanding of your customers' problems. Click To Tweet
A good story requires us to step into the shoes of our target customers and gain a good understanding of their problems. Even the problems that they haven’t even thought about yet. If we can warn them about these problems and present the goals that they could reach with us, they will be glad to work hand in hand with us. I’m sure that every manager of a small and medium sized manufacturing company would like to read how they could optimize their manufacturing and logistics, so they could reach the efficiency of market leaders. A good storyteller keeps the customers focused on their goals and talks about the problems on the road to reach them. The customers have a much better understanding of their problems than the solutions for them.