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How to write a killer product overview

Messaging & Positioning

Here’s the secret to a killer product overview. It’s more about what someone can do with the product than it is about what the product actually does.

About 10 or 12 years ago, I was the victim of a killer product overview! I wasn’t even planning to buy anything, yet I spent way more money than I ever imagined and I couldn’t be happier.

Here’s the story. I took my garment bag to a specialty luggage store to be repaired. While I’m the store, I decide to browse for a new laptop bag. I have no intention of buying one that day.

Thirty minutes later, I walked out with a new laptop bag and a new garment bag, neither of which I planned to buy. How did that happen? How did the salesperson (let’s call her Jane) get me to willingly fork over money I never planned to spend?

By the condition of my damaged garment bag, Jane quickly figured out that I travel a lot! So, when I asked about a laptop bag, she brought out her most durable (and probably most expensive) model.

The Overarching Value Theme

Jane’s pitch started like this. “If you travel a lot, this bag is your best bet. It’ll take more hassles out of your routine than any other bag.” In product marketing speak, this was the headline, the overarching value theme.

Taking Customer Knowledge to a New Level

What followed wasn’t a feature overview of the bag. It was a series of painfully descriptive and incredibly accurate accounts of my travel routine.

  • “When you’re going through security and juggling your ID and boarding pass…”
  • “A lot of people have the same exact laptops. Imagine what would happen if you picked up someone else’s laptop and didn’t know it until you were on the plane.”
  • “If you’re just going on a quick overnight trip…”
  • and several more.

At the end of each scenario, Jane points out features of the bag that eliminate the stress point.

The Close

She ends with, “this is the last bag you’ll ever have to buy,” and explains the unlimited warranty that covers anything and everything.

Before Jane could get another word out, I spontaneously blurt out “sold,” and handed her my credit card. And then I was like, “Oh, how much is the bag?” Whatever price she gave me wasn’t above my threshold of financial pain.

Now the Upsell

As I’m handing Jane the signed credit card slip, she says, “You know, that garment bag you have isn’t doing your lower back any favors. The minute you step on to the plane, you have to pick it up and carry it because it’s too wide to roll down the aisle.” Hmm, something I never gave much thought to.

She then demonstrates how cumbersome it is to carry a garment bag and a laptop bag down an airplane aisle. Starting, stopping, standing and waiting for people to do whatever they do before settling into their seat. Same routine getting off the plane. She nailed it again!

Jane says, “Let me show you something.”

We walk over to a carry-on garment bag from the same manufacturer as the laptop bag. Beyond the fact that it’s narrow enough to wheel down the airplane aisle, Jane goes through a scenario where I’m walking down a concourse, through a bumpy rental car lot or a parking garage and my laptop bag (resting on top of my carry-on) falls to the dirty floor or pavement.

She reminds me that I might not even know until I’m 300 feet ahead. Yes, she’s totally setting me up. Jane then shows me a flap on the back of the laptop bag that slips perfectly over the pull-up handle on the garment bag so that my laptop never falls off. Brilliant!

Guess what I did? Yup. I handed my credit card over to Jane once again and off I go with two new bags and one old one that I now have no use for.

Showing Your Passion for Customer Success

For all of us in product management, product marketing and sales roles, we have countless opportunities to do the same thing. Conferences, trade shows, sales calls, presentations, literature, etc.

In B2B, a killer product overview really isn’t a product overview, per se. It’s an exercise in reminding our buyers of what’s important to them, why it’s critical to their success, and the obstacles standing in their way. The products, services and features that eliminate the obstacles are proof points that further endear buyers to our products, but only when we explain them like Jane did.

How do you not love it when someone is genuinely passionate about your success?

Jane knew my travel routine cold, but she took it a step further and reminded me of a few hassles that I never even considered. She was animated and passionate. She kept the conversation focused on my travel routine and not her products. She sold me a solution. It was two products that have more value together than each has individually. Sound familiar?

BTW, if you’re a product manager reading this article, take note. Jane’s product overviews weren’t an afterthought. I’m completely convinced those bags were developed with the intent of taking stress out of my travel routine. Whoever gathered the business requirements and wrote the user stories did a phenomenal job. Jane’s killer product overviews were done long before the products were ever built.

If you love this story, you’ll love the way we teach product management and product marketing.

Contact Proficientz about a personalized onsite workshop so you can learn how to understand your target customers as well or better than they understand themselves. It’s the easiest route to delivering, marketing and selling more value and making more money.

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Written by:

John Mansour

John Mansour

John Mansour is the founder and managing partner at Proficientz, a product management and product marketing training organization that specializes in B2B and B2B2C best practices.

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How to write a killer product overview