Caricatures

Political caricatures are less about exaggerating features and more about telling a story.

A caricature emphasizes unique features. Every candidate has two eyes, a nose, and a mouth, but only one has big ol’ ears. A caricature also has a point of view — is the candidate cool? Old? War-hungry? Defensive?

All in a picture. No words.

If your product had a caricature, what would it look like? What are the unique features you would emphasize?

It’s useful to think this way because you can’t throw 800 typical marketing words into one picture. “Easy to use.” “Scalable.” “Fast.” “Enterprise-class.” “Flexible.” “Customizable.” “Reporting.”

Everyone claims these things. Snore. What if you had to pick just one? Or better yet, find something else that few others can claim. Something you can assert that your competition couldn’t even try to say.

And putting it into a picture without words is useful too. Communicate a powerful, unique message in 3 seconds. Something that might otherwise take a paragraph. A paragraph your potential customer might not take the time to read.

An example from Smart Bear is our side-by-side screenshot. If you’re a developer, and you reached our web page because you’re looking for help with code review, this image is all you need to know. The “content difference” concept is obvious; the fact that it’s in a web browser implies you can do this from anywhere, at any time; the piece on the left is obviously a chat area, which implies you can talk; the blue borders around code-line and chat implies you can talk about code.

You can use the same trick for identifying how you treat customers. Now you can’t get away with saying trite, meaningless drivel like “we value our customers” or “we exist to serve our customers.”

If you really exist to serve your customers, the picture might be of an average-Joe being served wine by a suit-wearing executive. I like that image! But is it accurate? If so, put it up on your “Our Customers” page and show you mean it. But if you the thought of that image makes you laugh, if that’s not truly how you picture your relationship, then rethink your values.

P.S. The image above and comes from a fascinating entry in the NY Times Blog.

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