Earlier this week, Peter E. Cohan discussed the software industry’s entry into the “era of auto-demo hell” defining most automated demos as, “dry, un-engaging and difficult to relate to.”
Yikes! What’s a marketer to do with such a gloomy forecast?
Fortunately, Mr. Cohan goes on to provide a few tips on creating auto-demos that don’t feel like you’re on a ride through Dante’s Inferno. But the truth about auto-demos is that they are a crucial component to any software marketing strategy; and when created correctly, can be your most effective marketing tool.
A professionally produced auto-demo can initiate your sales cycle and qualify leads without wasting your sales team’s time on cold prospects. Auto-demos can benefit internally by reinforcing consistent messaging. Giving everyone a dynamic and engaging sales tool keeps everyone on the same page from customer service reps to the Vice President of Sales. And best of all, auto-demos can be leveraged across multiple platforms and within various campaigns—on your Web site, in email marketing efforts, at your trade show booth—delivering maximum marketing ROI.
Here’s some hands-on advice to creating an automated software demo that delivers real results and keeps you and your prospects a safe distance from auto-demo hell:
-Make it product centric. Your software demo is not the place for marketing jargon and flashy animation. Give prospects an actual view of what your software looks like and what it can do.
-Keep it short. Four to six-minutes is the sweet spot for an automated demo. Longer than six minutes and you’re boring your audience. Pick the three leading WOW factors of your software and let them differientiate your software from your competitors.
-Make sure it streams instantly. Build your automated demo with technology that has a high user adoption rate. Flash is a great tool for an auto-demo. The last thing you want to do is ask your prospect to wait for your demo to load, or worse, download a plug-in just to view it.
-Include a professional voiceover. To fully engage your prospect, you should include a voiceover to narrate what is being shown.
-Know what you’re doing. Just because you are your software’s biggest evangelist, doesn’t necessarily mean you can create a professionally produced demo. A great demo includes instructional design, demo-content expertise, and the ability to record professional voiceover that synchs perfectly with the actions being displayed.
Often times, software companies make the mistake that they can build their auto-demo with internal resources. But just because you have graphic designers, developers, and copywriters on staff doesn’t mean that you’re going to create an effective automated demo.
Outsourcing the production of your demo may be your best best. If you do choose to have it created by an outside agency or firm, make sure you go with a team that has experience. Find a demo-development agency that specializes in software demos. Check out their client list and see samples of what they have produced. Make sure they can provide an estimated completion date and have a process in place that uses a minimal amount of your time.
If done correctly and with the right people, you’re auto-demo will have your sales team swooning and your prospects calling. It will be heavenly.