Marketers and sales guys love a sales pitch that sounds authoritative, yet is irrelevant. Too bad customers don’t.
Example: the Big Green Egg. It’s a BBQ grill. Living in Texas, I am an authority on BBQ grills. In fact, I have my own set of grilling tools in a monogrammed case. Seems pretty authoritative. I grill with propane, which some people think makes me a grilling dilettante (grilletante?), but Hank Hill uses propane. That makes it legitimate in my eyes. Also, I’m enough of a grilling expert that I understand that it’s mostly about drinking Modelo Especial while playing with fire anyway.
A number of my friends who also consider themselves authorities on grilling use a grill called the Big Green Egg. In fact, they think of themselves as more authoritative than me, because the Big Green Egg does not use propane. It uses coal and/or wood. And they probably drink craft brews rather than Modelo Especial while grilling. Purists. (I didn’t say “snobs.” But you can.)
I looked at the Big Green Egg when shopping for a grill. Here’s why I didn’t buy one: the big feature that the salesperson relied on in the pitch was irrelevant.
“The Big Green Egg isn’t like other BBQ grills,” the salesman said. “It’s engineered from the ground up to distribute the heat evenly for a better grilling experience. Notice that the surface doesn’t get hot when you cook? That’s because it’s made from the same ceramic material used to shield the space shuttle during re-entry.”
Good to know. I hadn’t planned on plummeting my BBQ grill through the atmosphere from space. If I were planning that, though, I would definitely buy a Big Green Egg. As it is, I want something that’s easy to fire up while I drink Modelo Especial.
Firing up a space shuttle while drinking Modelo Especial is, I’m pretty sure, a really bad idea.
Interestingly, every Big Green Egg owner that I talk with comes back to that part of the pitch. “It’s the same ceramic material used to shield the space shuttle.” OK, it’s a differentiator that no other grill can claim. But, authoritative as it sounds, it’s an irrelevant pitch. Not one of my grilling friends has ever plummeted their BBQ grill through the atmosphere.
Some have tried to make the case that the benefit is that the surface remains cool, so you and your children don’t risk getting burned. If that’s a benefit, it’s a peripheral one. I’ve been grilling for years and never burned myself on the grill surface. My kids know that it’s hot and stay away. And the sales guy didn’t make that case anyway…he just kept talking about the space shuttle. Completely irrelevant.
A feature is not a benefit. A grill is not a space shuttle. And a differentiator that doesn’t make a difference is irrelevant. Focus on the things that make your product better for your customer, not the cool-sounding things that aren’t relevant to solving your customers’ problems.