Do we still need product brochures, when we know that customers no longer believe the rhetoric that’s printed in them?
Nowadays, if a potential customer is interested in a certain product or service, most of them get their information from the internet. Within a short space of time, depending on their Google prowess, they get to know virtually everything that they wanted to know – the good, as well as the bad.
No matter how much information your company publishes on the web about the product or service that you sell, there’s always 1001% more information available to your audience from other sources. There are the buyers who have put their hand in their pocket and want to tell everyone how happy they are with their purchase. The third-party reviews of the product or service in question. Plus, of course, the people who are unhappy with the product/service/company, for whatever reason.
In most cases, the amount of information about your business value offering – coming from sources out of your control – greatly outweighs your company’s own generated content. Not only that, but most potential buyers place a higher regard on a third-party opinion or review than a company’s own rhetoric. It is seen as being more independent and, therefore, more valid.
Think about that for a second: most of the content about whatever you sell is out of your control.
Do we need product brochures any more?So, if all of the above is true, then why do we need product brochures any more? Has home-grown marketing copy become irrelevant? If your reading a company’s product brochure, you already know that you’re not going to read anything untoward. Apart from features, benefits and technical specifications, what use is the rest? The text is always going to be complimentary, right?
But does the fact that the company themselves have produced the text make the result less credible, or less believable? We’ve all read the “we’re the best / our product has no competition / you’d be mad to buy anything else” type of corporate nonsense. It’s no wonder most of us take company-sourced marketing content with a large pinch of sodium chloride.
Marketers and copywriters are only ever going to say nice things about the things that they sell. Third-parties, on the other hand, are more likely to tell it like it is. A car manufacturer, for example, may advertise their wonderful 10 year parts and service warranty. However, supposing I bought the car and had problem after problem. Supposing that – even though the warranty meant that I didn’t have to pay anything – I seemed to be continually at the dealership, getting them to sort out issue after issue. If that had happened to me, I’d want anyone considering buying that brand of car to know what they were (potentially) getting themselves into. Wouldn’t you?
Between those two extremes exists an increasingly-growing happy medium. Since they’re aware of the potential backlash of under-delivering, companies are starting to set more realistic customer expectations. “When you first try on these jeans, you may find them a little bigger than you’re used to. It’s only because they shrink 5% in the wash, so we’ve sized them accordingly.”
When user-generated content – blogs, social media posts, podcasts – can be found everywhere, marketers have to get in on the act. As I’ve said before, Companies don’t control their brands. Customers do. The role of a marketer has changed. Perhaps the future of corporate marketing communication should include the curation of user-generated content, leveraging the company’s visibility and reach to push this content to the their audience. In practice that may take the form of alerting people to a newly-posted customer review, or maybe an article featuring a novel or innovative application of the product/service in question. But it might also include feature updates, customer support, training, service, sales – and more.
It’s a lot more effort than sending out the occasional press release, updating the website news page, or reprinting the product brochure with new specs and images. But, increasingly, it’s what your audience is expecting of you.