Marketing and the manuals

What matters more … existing clients, or prospective clients?

Can you tell by comparing the amount of money spent on brochures (prospective clients) and manuals (existing clients)?

Kathy Sierra wondered why marketing (and the big marketing $$$) doesn’t have more do with the manuals … the drab 1-color pieces that clients get after purchase. Darren Barefoot says: keep marketing away at all costs. And this was my take on it – agreeing with Kathy, and suggesting some reasons why new clients take precedence in most organizations.

Who’s right?

The funny thing is: I guarantee that if you get these two people in the room, they will agree. Kathy will say that manuals should be clearly written and free of exageration and falsehood. Darren will say that manuals should have a lot more attention and dollars.

I understood her article in the context of a previous one: Are your users stuck in “P” mode, in which she argued that most manuals focus on the wrong thing.

Most manuals focus on how to operate the tool … not on how to achieve what you bought the tool for. For example, the high-end digital camera that you bought tells you all about how to set shutter speed and focal length … and not a word about why you would actually want to do that, when you will want to adjust those parameters, and what effect it will have on your photos.

In other words, the manual is about the camera, not photography. It’s about the product, not the activity.

That’s the context in which I understand her saying: the amount of energy and resources that go into marketing a product should also go into explaining the use of the product.

That just makes sense.

And that’s where marketing can help … because marketing is always (or should always) be focused on the reasons why a person would buy a particular product.

[tags] kathy sierra, darren barefoot, passionate users, marketing, manuals, john koetsier [/tags]


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Marketing: Before, During, and After The Sale…

    Kathy Sierra challenges the difference between pre-sale and post-sale activities / effort / communications / seduction techniques. It strikes to the heart of her premise that ‘creating passionate users’ is a marketing technique, and should be budgete…

  • Bravo, John for bridging the gap between these two halves of the same challenge! What you pointed out regarding the USE of the product can be a powerful marketing tool, not only for the immediate sale, but for the next time the consumer buys a replacement product a few years hence. The marketing effort (brochure, ad, etc.) can helpfully point out during the pre-sale just how valuable the post-sale documents can be…