He’s the brain behind your company’s latest widget. He could take it apart and build it back together without a manual. He helped marketing with their lead generation process and even wrote the FAQ section for the website. Everyone knows: if things break call Allan. He’ll fix it.
Allen is an expert. They are brilliant people who know their subject extremely well. They’ve spent a lot of time with the product and they know everything about it.
But people like Allan, our experts, have their limitations.
Their greatest asset is also their greatest liability. Their familiarity with a subject makes it difficult to emphasize with new users. They are so immersed in the solution that they can’t understand the problem anymore.
We are blinded by their brilliance.
Using our experts during the lead generation process can turn into a problem. Especially, when they get involved too early in the sales process. In particular when you build out your website content.
Nuances will kill the sale
Experts like Allen focus on the details. Nothing is black or white anymore. Their sum of cases they worked on will fight against painting a bigger picture. But when you present your product, that’s exactly what you want to do.
It’s crucial to capture your prospect’s attention. Make them imagine their life without their current problem. You need to hook their emotions first before you can feed them any details.
Nike is a great example of capturing emotions first. They aren’t selling jerseys. What you see is a player after he scored a point. It’s raw emotions, amplified by taking out the color and adding some contrast.
The Honest Company has a similar approach.
When promoting their diapers, they use two smiling babies. No doubt they’ll capture their target audience attention. Do you notice the background? Everything is designed to appeal to emotions. Do I have your attention, Mr. prospect? Now we can talk.
Show me the data
Experts are experts for a reason. They have a lot of internal authority. They have made a name for themselves. Executives know their value to the company. They are passionate about their product and want to be heard. It’s a hard battle to fight.
So if your arguments won’t impress Allen. But data will.
In web design, we use A/B testing. We show two different versions of our product pages to our visitors. Half of them see only version A, the other half only version B. We then measure how each of them is performing. Solutions like Google Optimize can handle the technical aspect in the background.
Our goal is to determine which page converts better. Yours or Allen’s.
Conversion here means pursuing a user to take action. This might be buying your product or signing up for a newsletter. They both get the same amount of traffic so the winner is determined only by the layout.
Designing for your customer
Designing for your customer requires empathy. The only real perspective on a problem you have is your own. Thinking through your customer’s eyes requires that you forget everything you know.
Experts are often far disconnected from the customers. It’s not impossible for them to let all their knowledge go. But it begs the question of what value they would add to the design process.
I don’t want to bash Allan here. He’s a good guy. The only problem he has is changing his perspective.
And Allen is not alone.
Companies large and small struggle with the same issue. Our perspective seems right to us. It’s intuitive to assume the customer sees things the same way we do.
But very often, they don’t.
The long-term consequences for our businesses can be drastic. Dropping sales and a stressed help desk can leave executives scratching their heads. “We’re doing everything right”, they say. “We checked all the boxes.”
The world is rarely as simple as we imagine it. Disconnected customers are the result of sending the wrong messages over a long time. Don’t fight the symptoms to fix that. You need to revisit your entire marketing, not just the lead generation process. Make sure your marketing solves real pains.
Experts are still essential during the sales process. We need experts for the nitty-gritty, system-specific problems a lot of prospects eventually face.
Experts like Allen will do their magic later on in the funnel. When you’re already talking to the customer. Or through whitepapers and subpages that need more details.
Product-specific knowledge is crucial. But when you design your product page, don’t dive into the material too early. It will kill your conversions.
Let Allen be an expert in his own field. Ask him his opinion on detailed, technological issues.
But don’t make him your marketer.