Tampons and Technology: How to Pitch or Sell Niche Products

October 31, 2017 | Pitching

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We work with many technology companies—software, big data consulting, etc—to help them clarify their benefits, create a memorable brand and communicate their message.

These specialized businesses may be pitching for investment or just trying to make a B2B sale. But they have a problem in common: they often need to sell their solution to someone who does not fully understand it.

Some of the common scenarios we assist with:

  • Writing clear copy for a sales sheet so that the benefits of a software solution are understood not only by the CTO, but also to the CFO.
  • Using words and graphics on a web site so that a complicated product or service can be understood by a gatekeeper doing preliminary research.
  • Creating pitch decks that make an investor understand why a niche problem deserves a solution.

Clarify

But it’s not only entrepreneurs focusing on highly technical products or services that face this problem. Whenever you talk about your product or service, remember that not everyone in a room may understand the problem and more importantly, your solution.

An investor who doesn’t understand will pass on the deal. A CFO will demand a business case for the technology solution, delaying a sale. Even someone at a networking event who could be a great source of referrals can’t help if they don’t understand what you offer.

No one wants to feel dumb. And when egos are involved it gets even worse.

techniques to help outsiders understand quickly

To help make your technical or niche product understandable, try one or both of these techniques.

Tell a story that paints a vivid picture of why the problem causes so much pain for certain people. We can all relate to feelings of frustration, being misunderstood, wasting resources, etc. Connect the problem and your solution with real human emotions.

Find a metaphor or analogy that helps people place your service into a more familiar backdrop. We describe our Branding Compass tool as the TurboTax of Branding. When you do this, you take the benefits and capabilities of the known brand and quickly make them recognizable in your own brand.

End confusion quickly

With specialized products, it’s a common mistake to think that everyone who would buy it understands and that it doesn’t matter if other people don’t. That’s just not true.

When people are confused, they can’t follow your story.

Have you ever watched a presentation or pitch and been stuck on a point early on that you didn’t understand? From that moment on, your brain has this nagging issue of trying to process the information. Until you do, it’s difficult for you to keep up with the rest of the information being presented. You don’t want to lose your listeners in this trap.

I recently saw this video interview with Lola tampon’s co-founder Jordana Kier. She reveals that she’s had to explain a lot of the basics about having your period and how tampons work—and even dropped a tampon into an investor’s glass of water—before she could get the male-dominated VC world to understand the problem that her product is fixing.

Think about who influences a sale or decision with your product or service.

Tailor your presentation to their knowledge base and area of expertise. That doesn’t mean it has to be dumbed down. For example, a CTO wants technical specs to confirm that a software or hardware solution will integrate with current systems. A CFO doesn’t want less thorough technical specs, he or she wants to know more about the ROI of making the investment such as projections for hours of work saved or greater productivity.

If you are selling niche products, make sure you can quickly explain your solution and why it’s valuable.

One comment

  1. Martin Lindeskog | November 5, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Emily: I wonder if my first forthcoming book on tea (in a children’s book format, for adults) will be classified as a niche product?

    Reading about your Branding Compass tool, I wonder if you have read Donald Miller’s book, Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen?

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