If you are a marketing professional with a technology firm and wonder why your product messaging is not connecting with your target audience, then I have a simple answer for you. You are focused on features and functions or you are focused on the external problem of the buyer persona.
Most marketing organizations selling products and services focus on features and functions, which no one is ever going to buy your features and functions. The other mistake most organizations make with their product message is that they talk in very general, confusing terms.
In my fifteen plus years working in product marketing, I made the same mistake as most technology-focused organizations are still making today. In a highly competitive landscape, organization's see their competitors talking about their product or service, and then they respond by saying we have that too. The problem with "comparative feature" messaging is that it doesn't differentiate your brand or product from your competitors.
In this article, I will demonstrate how Samsung is using their message very differently than Whirlpool selling a similar, competitive product. I will describe how one company is using their message to tell a story, while the other is missing the mark.
Kitchen Appliances that Inspire Beautiful Messages
Messaging should tell a story, one that includes a character (your buyer), not a story of how amazing you (the brand) are. One company that is telling a better narrative using storytelling is Samsung. Historically Samsung's marketing focused on features and functions, but recently they shifted their message to focus on the internal problem of the buyer. Samsung's website content for their kitchen appliances is perfect. The statement "A beautiful balance of performance and design, Chef Collection perfect blends advance, chef-inspired technology with contemporary, elegance, so you can enjoy living in your kitchen as much as you enjoy cooking." They could simplify their message a little bit, but the last statement about living in your kitchen goes right at the buyer's internal problem. When consumers buy appliances today, they buy them for their visual appeal and for beauty. The Kitchen has almost become a status symbol and focal point of the modern kitchen. Appliances for the last fifty years were a tool to do a specific job, however today they are part of your living space.
When you compare Samsung messaging to Whirlpool, it is easy to see the difference between the two companies. Just like Samsung, Whirlpool has a section on their homepage for their kitchen appliances, yet their message is very different. Samsung focuses on the entire kitchen, showing what their entire suite of products would look like in a beautiful kitchen. Whirlpool offers only pictures of individual products, and the messaging around each product focuses on features, such as their Frozen Bake™ technology. Whirlpool uses visual images to connect with their buyer, such as the children eating pizza and the soccer balls in the kitchen, which are great, but the messages miss the mark just a bit. They are trying to create the connection between the soccer balls to the "When game time cuts into mealtime" statement and the Frozen Bake™ technology. Whirlpool could restructure their messaging to "No more half-frozen pizza for the kids on game night. Whirlpool Ovens are designed so you can skip preheating, get the kids fed and off to the game on time."
- Breaking down the message: The Whirlpool characters are soccer moms that have the task of getting kids to soccer games and making sure they have time to feed the kids before they have to run out the door. The internal problem is that mom's hate serving half-frozen food to their kids when they are rushing against the clock. The external problem is that ovens take too long to heat up. Unless the reader puts all the pieces together, which takes brain power, Whirlpool could adjust their messages so that they relate and connect to their buyer persona.
- Keep the feature out of the message: Like most technology brands, Whirlpool includes their Frozen Bake™ technology feature into their messaging. This isn't necessary as the soccer mom doesn't care about your cool new feature. What they care about is that the Whirlpool oven can cook her kids pizza, fast and without it being half-frozen when she puts it on the table for her kids.
Going back to the Samsung website, when you click on learn more, they continue their messaging using the same process. They stay away from talking about features and focus on how the appliances make the buyer feel or how it makes their home feel. They have a family spending time together in the kitchen, Dad and daughter are working together to make pasta, while mom watches with enjoyment while the youngest makes a mess. The messaging to the tight of the image says "Thoughtful design can absolutely affect the mood because it impacts the energy of the space." Samsung is describing how their products make you feel, and how having beautifully designed products impacts the energy, which in this space is positive energy.
.Whirlpool on the other side, once you click on "Shop Cooking", it takes you to a product page with more of the same. They jump into "The Whirlpool® line of ranges has the combination of capacity and flexibility that you need on the cooktop, to handle whatever the day brings. Innovative features give you accurate cooking control, whether you're baking, broiling or simmering. And you can choose from many layouts, including single or double oven, freestanding or slide-in, in both gas and electric—so you can meet your family’s needs, whatever they may be."
They focus on capacity and flexibility, which buyers don't care about. I am personally building a house right now, and when I was deciding on appliances, I could care less about capacity and flexibility, or cooking control, or baking, broiling or simmering. Come on Whirlpool, you can do better than this. All ovens bake, broil and simmer. As a consumer, I care about how the appliance will look next to my granite countertops and cabinets, how sleek and modern will the appliances look like in my open concept kitchen that can be seen from the living room and dining room.
Call to Actions
Whirlpool provides ample call-to-actions (CTA) throughout their website and on every page to direct you to make a purchase of their product. Samsung, although their messaging is great at all levels, they provide a single "shop" button at the top right-hand side of every page. As you drill deeper into each product page, they start to talk about features, but they stay relatively high-level and tell the same story. But when you go to buy, it took me a minute to realize the only call-to-action is the "shop" button at the top. I am not sure if this is hurting Samsung or not, but having CTA's in other areas of the page would have prevented me from looking for a place to buy.
I provided the two examples above in an effort for you to see the differences between one company telling a story about their product (Samsung) and another company telling a product-centric story focused on features and functions of their product (Whirlpool). When messaging your product and services, you want to try your best to tell a story that will engage with your audience. Your audience doesn't really care about features and functions, they want to know that your product or service will make their lives easier or better. Whirlpool could change their message to make soccer moms connect quickly with the idea that if they bought a whirlpool oven, they no longer have to serve half-frozen pizza to their kids on those rushed game and practice days.
Samsung's page is super simple, whereas Whirlpool's page is quite complex and feels like they want to pack as many features into one page. When I selected explore ranges, it took me to another page that just had too much on the page, tons of information about features and capabilities. What you can learn from this comparison, keep your messaging simple and focus on the internal need of the buyer. Samsung focused on how their appliances would look as part of their home, while Whirlpool focused selling features. Neither are perfect in their execution, but Samsung stands out in the comparison as having told a better story about their product.