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AMiable Solution #487: How Smart Companies Sell Really New Products to Consumers

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to sell a brand-new technology or product to consumers.

In the 1980s-based movie, The Wedding Singer, Glenn Guglia, played by Matthew Glave, tells his girlfriend Julia Sullivan, played by Drew Barrymore, that he bought her a CD player. “It cost me, like, 700 bucks, but the sound quality’s outstanding,” he tells her. Her reaction? She asks him, “You wanna play a record (on it)?”

For those of us old enough to have used CD players, we watch the scene with amusement. After all, who remembers NOT knowing what a CD player was?

But in truth, these situations happen fairly often. Someone goes and invents something really, really new and unheard of and then has to not only educate the public on what it is and what it does, but also has to persuade the public to buy one.

This can be challenging, especially when the really, really new thing threatens to dethrone a long-standing or beloved product.

The best way to do that, according to a 2016 study led by University of Delaware marketing professor Michal Herzenstein, is through analogies.

Analogies, the comparison of two seemingly unlike things based on a common aspect, make strange, new concepts and products, particularly techy ones like CD players, tablets, and “the cloud,” more intellectually accessible and understandable. It’s the process of using something customers are familiar with to explain something unfamiliar to help them see the value of the really, really new thing.

In other words, use what your customers already understand to help them appreciate what they don’t.

In the spirit of our The Wedding Singer reference, consider this: “Playlists are the new mixtapes.” If you know what a mixtape is, then you have an idea what a playlist is. You know, based on your own experience, that a playlist is a personalized collection of all your favorite songs.

When creating your analogies, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Start with a tangible object, one that is relevant to your customers and prospects, that can be connected to your new product.

  • Think of all the ways your tangible object is similar to your new product. Consider qualities, characteristics, benefits, feelings, etc.

  • Create a direct, emotional comparison that echoes the message you’re sending your audience.

  • Be original and memorable. Avoid what New Zealand advertising agency, Partisan Advertising, calls “generic comparisons.” Instead, create “something original and interesting that will stand out in the minds of viewers.”

  • Finally, don’t overcomplicate things. Make sure your comparison is clear and the purpose or benefit of your new product is obvious.

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