The Inside Scoop

When I'm shopping for something, I want the inside scoop. Nowhere is that more true than online.

I was talking to someone today who was shopping for a computer. We visited a few websites and looked at a few things. I found myself explaining little things:

  • "My laptop here is 15" so this 13" laptop is about this [motions with hands] big."
  • "These are plastic: black or white. This one is aluminum, so it'll look like this [points to silvery-colored area of laptop] - but not fake, since this is just plastic and that is aluminum."

A computer geek wants the specs of a computer. And that's easy to deliver online.

But everyone (geek and non-geek) wants other information. And an image is often just not enough. To be fair, this example was Apple Laptops. As a geek, I had watched may keynotes, so I've seen these computers from a variety of angles. I know what they look like. I've seen the software demo-ed. I've visited computer stores and ogled them and hefted them. I know what they feel like. I have the inside scoop. But that's only because I subscribed to a ton of information.

What about everyone else? Should they not get the inside scoop easily?

Or, to put it another way, does Apple not want make their buying decision easier simply by giving them the inside scoop?

I saw a great example of a product website giving the inside scoop. It's for pens. Now, you could tell me the specs of the pen (it's a fountain, it's ballpoint, it's gel, it comes in 8 zillion colors, it's...) - or, you can give me the inside scoop.

Nice, right? That's what I want: the inside scoop of what this pen will look/feel like. This is the inside scoop on real using of the pen. Sample taken from

This is why demos are so powerful. They are an inside scoop. They are the "real deal."

I think Adobe has this problem with their products too. They make software (nebulous) that helps you make software (nebulous^2). How do you explain that? When they rolled out their new creative suite (that's their software for graphic geeks), their mini-site for creative suite has a bunch of videos of people explaining how they use it and visuals of what they created. There are products specs somewhere and technical requirements too, but the focus is the what & how.

Not Just Products The more nebulous your product or service, the trickier this gets. I would suggest that this also gets more valuable. The less tangible your product, the more you need a demo, sample, or some way of delivering the inside scoop. Because I won't buy what I don't understand.

I was talking to a client recently about a particular feature on his soon-to-be-released website: a feed of video interviews of the people in the organization. A real behinds-the-scenes or "embedded reporter" type video interview.

"You want the real scoop? Here it is: watch the videos." Bam.

To the client's credit: they got the concept and wanted to do it but there are some logistical challenges.

The more I think about how I operate and what I want, the more I think that we need to deliver the inside scoop.

This is why consulting firms have case studies and explanations of their process. (Hit Accenture's website today. On the main page: "Inside" with a variety of things including blogs to get "inside" Accenture.)

Ideas This is why I fight for how to communicate ideas. Ideas are often the more intangible or all products. You may have an idea that encompasses several process changes and a new product and maybe needs a whole whack of definition - it's a big fuzzy mess. And it's just waiting to get a "no" because there is no inside scoop. An idea is often the most nebulous thing out there. So it really needs the tangible inside scoop when it is delivered.

Friday, September 14, 2007, 12:00 AM

tagged: demos, ideas, insidescoop