Three Steps to Framing Tech Products in a Simple Way

“Logic no more explains how we think than grammar explains how we speak.”
– Marvin Minsky, co-founder of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab

Our lives are becoming much simpler thanks to sophisticated technology. Complex, multi-step processes are now push-button; yet communicating that simplicity is often a tall order for tech manufacturers who know the full potential of their product. If a purchase decision was logical, all they would need to do is list a price and specifications.
Ignite helps tech companies craft marketing messages that make it simpler for consumers to make a decision in a non-rational state. Having launched more than 400 tech products over eight years, Ignite’s process guides the communication plan from beginning to liquidation. It all starts with “the one thing.”

You can only say one thing.

Well, you can say as many things as you want, but you have to assume your audience will only listen to one thing. What is it? There are likely to be many upgraded features of any new product, but one has to come first. Get together and agree on the one thing.
Refine that thing. Determine if it’s a feature or a benefit. How does it address the fear and stress the audience is seeking to relieve? How does it stack up against the competition?

When you have those questions answered, here are three steps to framing that thing in a way that will be simple for anyone to understand and react to.

Step One: Get Fresh Eyes on It

Get someone who doesn’t know the product well to look at it. Better yet, find a kid.

Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” We agree, but not because children are less experienced and need to be condescended to, but because they live in a world that has always had an interface—a world in which an understanding about technology is mere table stakes.

This helps to reset the knowledge threshold for consumers at large and guide you to the point where “no duh” becomes “no way!”

GE understood the power of a child’s perspective when it created the award winning spot, What My Mom Does at GE.

Step Two: Find the Right Analogy

Similes, metaphors and analogies are powerful tools to help consumers connect a product with a purpose. In almost every face-to-face conversation, you’ll hear the phrase “it’s like…” (Not to be confused with “it’s, like, …”)

This creates a “stand-in” for your product. When you find the right comparison with a well-known object or story, there will always be a connection for your audience between your product and its cultural counterpart.

Thousands of great visual analogies abound, but that’s an easy search. Here’s an example of how blockchain, the underlying technology that makes bitcoin work, is quite similar to Napster, an earlier file sharing technology that more people are familiar with.

Step Three: Compare It

Providing context within the competitive set is helpful, but identifying the competitive set is key. Obviously, you want to sell better than a competing product, but often the purchase decision is more complex. For instance, customers may be trying to decide which of your products to purchase when many different models are merchandised together.
Once you’ve decided what really needs comparing, tell the customer explicitly what is different and better about this product. Charts are helpful here, to a point. Even high-road marketers can accomplish this implicitly when they want to pretend their product exists in a market vacuum.

Before they became ubiquitous to the point of self-satirization, wireless network coverage charts were used to provide a direct service comparison. All for good reason—it worked.

A good example of all three steps was Apple’s “Hello, I’m a Mac” campaign. It used simplified language to explain its benefits. It provided a quick visual stand-in for both their product and its PC competition. And it explicitly compared the products side-by-side—literally.

Ignite exists solely to help technology marketers understand complex buyer journeys and simplify their messaging. To learn more about how Ignite humanizes, simplifies and empowers tech marketing, check out our white paper here.