Taking Magic to Market – why amazing products are hardest to sell

The paradox for disruptive innovators is that although their fantastic creations deliver exactly the benefits their customers need, they do so in such an incredible way that customers struggle to understand them.  This makes it really hard to define a proposition that customers understand enough to want straightaway….

…and so it was with Tim.

Magic genie makes money

Tim is a bright young graduate who has turned the advanced materials science he learned at university into an amazing business.  Tim makes magic leggings.  Not my words, not his words, but the words of a customer.  But how on earth do you market them?  To look at they are nothing special – well designed and attractive to look at for sure, but the magic is invisible.  In a world conditioned to buy clothing based on image, subtleties of fabric properties are not easy to market through digital means – there is simply too much explaining to do.  So it was not so surprising that Tim was not having much joy selling with AdWords or his website.

So how do you sell magic leggings?

You are probably wondering what makes them magic.  It is a fair question.  Tim gave me a very comprehensive and scientifically evidenced answer, but it took 15 minutes.  In essence, KYMIRA products harness the wasted energy from the wearer and convert it to infrared. This causes a biological response at a cellular level resulting in enhanced performance and accelerated recovery. There are other benefits too but these are the biggest.   Sounds great to scientists, but not terribly engaging to potential customers.  We needed to talk to them.

We set up a series of video interviews with current customers, many of whom were great advocates of the product.  Videos are great because you can replay them to capture the detail, you can edit them into testimonial sound bites and we also cut them together to make a promotional video for investors.  But we had to be careful not to “lead the witness”; we wanted insight more than promotion because counter-intuitively insight is far more engaging than sales talk.  And we got it.  “Magic Leggings” was a phrase coined in one of the interviews, but the real gem came later.  “They make my legs feel as fresh in the third race as they did in the first”.  Now that was useful – that was insight.  Now we had a hook for competitive athletes anxious to wring every last bit of performance out of their tiring bodies; we had an emotional need that similar athletes would identify with.  Investors got it too and Tim over-achieved in his second Kickstarter giving him much needed funds to invest in more product.

Key takeaways

1.   We have to engage before we explain and to do that we needed to get into our customers’ heads.

2.   Customers care about their own outcomes.  If they believe they will achieve them then they do not much care how.  A hard lesson for a scientist.

Banner image © Mark Neild 2013  Dolphin in Bay of islands New Zealand taken shortly before we went swimming with them.