Application Profiles – a powerful selling tool
Before a potential customer signs on the dotted line, he wants to be assured that he is making a smart decision. He wants to understand how your product will help him streamline productivity, improve profitability and impact quality. He wants something that will lower the risk factor and help him say “yes.”
Well, you can talk until you’re blue in the face, but when the chips are down, he wants to see some evidence that your product will work in his application. He wants to see proven results. The ideal results-oriented solution is something we call an Application Profile. An AP is a simple application “brief” that lays out a specific customer challenge along with a proven solution.
We’ve been doing these for years for our clients such as Altra Industrial Motion, and we have them down to an art. Here are a few tricks of the trade that will give you some insight into how to craft one of the most helpful sales-aids that any company can add to its arsenal of marketing support materials:
Develop your information “pipeline.”
Any writer will tell you that your story is only as good as your sources. Pinpoint the salespersons (or engineers) within your organization who can give you smooth access to great success stories and who can put you in touch with an appropriate customer spokesperson (if needed).
When crafting the document, stay on point. State the challenge clearly and then explain how your product, service and expertise resolved it. Use hard facts and figures whenever possible rather than vague generalizations.
Keep it brief.
Should be no longer than one page. Add an “At a glance” or “Summary” sidebar for quick-scanning readers.
Use quality photography.
As the old saying goes, a great photo is worth a thousand words. The trouble is, however, that good photos (and sometimes any photos) are hard to come by when the customer is not overly forthcoming about their application. If customer application photos are not available, make due with solid copy or perhaps an appropriate stock photo.
Develop a branded look.
All of your marketing support materials should work in harmony to build your company’s brand. It’s no different with Application Profiles. A professional, identifiable look shared among all AP’s will give your salesforce an impressive series of organized success stories that reinforce the brand message.
Maintain an archive.
One AP tells a single story. Dozens of AP’s build a diverse library of expertise that cannot be ignored. AP’s can be archived on your website, organized by product, service, or market application for easy access.
Speed the process.
Some clients prefer to not identify customer names in the profile, usually at the request of their customer. Although this lack of detail is, arguably, not ideal, it does speed the development process since customer approvals are not required.
Developing an Application Profile program requires a trusty information pipeline, a user-friendly content style, a consistent format, and dedication to crafting a meaningful, results-oriented story. But not every company has the time or manpower to dedicate to this important PR function. If you see the value in an Application Profile program and would like some assistance, contact Greg Surufka at 815-847-7532, email@example.com.