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Product Demos That Don’t Suck

Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Intercom

Des Traynor

@destraynor

Product demos can be a great marketing tool when they focus on giving the attendees a fantastic experience. Customers should leave a seminar knowing how to kick ass at their job, not how to use an interface. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.

The standard product demo is a lengthy feature-by-feature walkthrough of a product, explaining where everything is and what everything does. Comprehensive and correct? Absolutely. Interesting? Not so much. Most are like bad product manuals except you can’t skip pages so you just close the browser instead. They’re focusing on the wrong thing.

Give Your Users Superpowers

For six years Kathy Sierra has been pushing a simple credo. Software developers must focus on creating passionate users. Help your users kick ass, and all else follows. Teach them, don’t sell to them.

She’s right. The best sales pitch is a story, not a feature tour. Find out what your customers need to do, and teach them why and how to do it. You don’t need to push your product—it should be the logical conclusion from your lessons. If you teach me how to run a project successfully and I feel smarter because of it, then picking a project management tool is a no-brainer for me.

Our Intercom demos could easily talk about Auto Messages, Automated Mails, Auto Segments, Profile Views, and the like. That would be focusing on the features. It would be a monotonous list of instructions. You know the sort, “Now, simply, click the message button to send a message”. Yawn.

Instead, we do our best to teach how to increase engagement, identify activity churn, automate customer development, increase user retention, and boost life time value. They are the reasons people use and love Intercom. Our demos follow Kathy Sierra’s simple formula:

Kathy Sierra, don't make a better [x], make a better user of [x]

Our demos teach everything we’ve learned in the past few years about these topics. They’re proving really effective, and feedback from attendees has been great. So great in fact that we’re now opening them up to the public.

Come along to a Demo

Intercom demos are open to all, and in the coming weeks we’ll add more resources and material to this site, including tutorials, screencasts, and more. As always our goal isn’t “What to do with Intercom” or even “How to do X with Intercom”. Our goal is to help web businesses provide amazing customer experiences, which in turn increases engagement, retention, loyalty, and lifetime value. In the words of Joel Spolsky:

Joel Spolsky Quote. We help a user be awesome at a thing

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, come along for one. We host them regularly, and I promise, no sales pitch 🙂