When I wrote the first book on Steve Jobs and his presentation skills, I learned a valuable communication strategy--sell the dream. Your customers or prospects don't care about your product; they care about themselves. Show them how your product makes their life or business better, and you'll win them over.
Selling the dream is the inspiration behind a new ad campaign by Google Cloud. It offers a great example of effective communication for marketers, entrepreneurs, small business owners and sales professionals.
This week, Google Cloud released a new round of print and digital ads in national newspapers. I've given three public talks at Google and I can tell you that the company's marketing professionals are among the best storytellers you'll find in business.
Here's how they sell a complex product.
1. Start at the top.
Too many sales professionals start their pitch in the weeds. Google Cloud ads start with the big picture. For example, here are the first sentences in Google's newest ads as they appear in newspapers.
"Google Cloud is helping the Home Depot with solutions to customers' small projects," (New York Times, February 11)
"Google Cloud is helping Target and its guests redefine the shopping trip" (Wall Street Journal, February 11).
"Google Cloud is helping PayPal with their mission to transform the prosperity and opportunity of millions of businesses around the world" (New York Times, February 25).
Peak your prospect's interest with the big picture before diving into the details. If you can name a well-known brand, industry or organization that uses your product, even better.
2. Provide explanations in short sentences and simple words.
Now it's time to explain what the product does. The second and third sentences of Google's print ads explain how existing companies are using Google Cloud.
For example, Target is using Google Cloud technology to power its new Drive Up service. What does it mean for customers? "Now busy parents can cross off a to-do list while their kiddos snooze."
Keep your words simple. Most major purchasing decisions require several levels of decision making. Don't assume that everyone understands your product as well as you do.
3. Offer links, slides and material for deeper dives.
At some point, of course, decision makers require much more information than your initial pitch. Provide increasingly deeper levels of information.
The ads for Google Cloud contain about 60 words. Each print ad is followed by a link that takes you directly to a longer case study online where you can watch a short video (under 2 minutes), and read technical information and statistics about the partnership.
At end of each case study, there's a link to more customer stories. There aren't just a few case studies. There are 45 pages of case studies divided by region, industry or product type so customers can find the examples that are most relevant to them.
Each case study ends with a call to action and a contact for Google sales.
In the last year I've meet with senior leaders at major cloud companies. Their communication challenge is similar to what other professionals face in other industries--simplifying complexity. Most people don't know why they'd need an ANSI SQL database to analyze petabytes of data. The jargon and complexity is mind-numbing.
Effective communication is simply good teaching. Provide simple, clear explanations that explain benefits (the why) before the details (the how).