The 3 easy Cs that take your customer from confused to convinced
Updated: Feb 8, 2020
Are you losing your customer simply because your words lack focus? Learn how to use these 3 simple content filters - Context, Contrast and Clarity to capture your customer's attention with ease.
We all have many thoughts racing through our minds at any given moment. You can’t always assume that a customer is vividly thinking about the experience of using your product or service. They have a lot on their mind! And as long as their minds are elsewhere they’ll never be able to focus on why they should give you their hard-earned money. No matter if your product or service helps someone drive, cook, run, or work faster or more efficiently - our brains are constantly whirring with thoughts of what’s for dinner, or if we missed our grandma’s birthday, or what time the kids need to be picked up. In order to make the connection, it becomes your priority to slow things down a bit and help your customer picture the difference your product or service will make in their lives.
Context: Turn off distractions
You can start to wade through the distractions by providing your customer with ‘context prompts’. These are small bites of contextual information that pull the customer away from their distractions and immerse them into actively using a product.
A great example of a context prompt is guide or a quiz. A fun one to try out is the Shoe Finder by Brooks Running.
Brooks pulls me away from racing thoughts like, “did I drink enough water today?” or “what was my boss saying earlier?” and quickly makes me imagine that I’m running outside. The Shoe Finder sets up a frame of reference for the exact factors I should be thinking about when considering a pair of running shoes. They ask personalized questions like preferred distance, type of trail, etc. They pull my attention towards questions like “In the past six months, have you had any pain or injuries in these areas?” For a brief moment, even though I’m sitting at my computer screen, my mind remembers what it’s like to be out on a run, and Brooks has guided me to their solution to my concerns. .
A guide like the Shoe Finder also puts your expertise in control. The Shoe Finder goes on to give you a handful of brief exercises you can easily do to establish your degree of balance and weight distribution. Even though Brooks doesn’t say it outright, they are subconsciously telling you that these are the concerns you should be aware of when researching running shoes, and a competing company that does not provide an assessment based on these specific factors must be hawking an inferior product.
Illustrating to the customer how obnoxious or hard-to-use the alternative is also a great context prompt to make your features powerful and relevant. Bellroy, a maker of compact, efficient accessories builds a product meant to replace the traditional key chain. Their product page kicks things off by reminding us of the irritating, cacophonous experience of a traditional, busy, clanging key chain. After remembering that, their quiet, compact design of the key sleeve is suddenly more relevant.
When we are immersed in the activity of using a particular product, we are more likely to experience the ‘wow’ moment, and understand why an upgrade or alternative is important.
Contrast: Leave puffery for the puffy shirt
Here’s where you want to avoid the temptation to fall back on puffery. Simply saying your product is the “best”, the “most useful”, or relying on -er words (like “faster” or “smaller”) doesn’t provide descriptive contrast between you and the competition. Even saying “300%” or “5X” faster doesn’t always explain why this should matter to your customer. If speed is a critical differentiator of your product, remind your customer why speed is a so important by staying focused on novelty and contrast.
Referring back to Bellroy, for example, they are also a maker of stylish, ultra-slim wallets. They don’t simply stop at with the puffery of ‘slimmer’, they take it one extra step forward. They compare and contrast, visually showing seven hefty credit cards, how sleek their wallet is compared to the bulky, intrusive competition.
Clarity: It's more important to be concise than cute
This may go against every ‘creative copywriting’ advice you’ve heard, but it is always far more important to be clear and concise than cute. For example, this page for a Northface jacket is ambiguously described as “designed for city”. Unfortunately, “Designed for the city” doesn’t communicate much to the customer.
Remember, necessity is the mother of invention. What is the need does “designed for the city” define? What makes this jacket a necessity to the average city-dweller? Perhaps a better description could be: ‘Keeps you dry when your bike commute is served up a surprise rainstorm, yet still stylish enough to pop in for happy hour.’ It might be more wordy, but this description offers up a clearer description of why a customer would be interested in this product.
In addition to being ‘clear instead of cute’, you also want to be ‘concise instead of brief’. Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible - but not simpler.” Don’t cut out or condense words just for the sake of achieving brevity - you want to make sure you are saying just enough to show what makes you special. Instead of simply mentioning an item is ‘packable’ or ‘stowable’ for sake of brevity, it is better to toss in a few more thoughtful words considering how the customer will deploy this feature.
How small does it pack down? Give examples of popular items that are the same size. Does it fold into the size of a package of Ramen, a Pop-Tart or a Tic-Tac box? These are just a few fun and memorable ways to describe a product’s size!
What will it fit into? Knowing it will fit into a pocket, laptop sleeve or tidily in a bicycle commuter bag adds more words, but it gives a potential customer a great frame-of-reference for how they will be able to use this item.
Success can rely on precision. The more clearly you can demonstrate the true application of your product or service through Context, Contrast and Clarity - the more successful you will be in communicating why the customer should choose you.