|The Twenty-first Annual Interactive Audio Conference
PROJECT BAR-B-Q 2016
|Group Report: Always Be Closing
(This isnít marketing after all)
|Participants: A.K.A. "Perfect Pitch"|
|Phil Brown, Dolby||Anastasia Devana, Magic Leap|
|Chris Forrester, Microsoft||Ty Kingsmore, Waves|
|Peter Otto, UCSD||Jack Joseph Puig, Waves|
|David Roach, Magic Leap||Will Wolcott, Netflix|
|Facilitator: Linda Law|
|download the PDF|
Brief statement of the problem on which the group worked:
Our problem concerns making a compelling argument to an internal or external stakeholder for a new audio feature, innovation, or quality improvement. Often, key stakeholders do not have a depth of audio knowledge that allows them to immediately understand the benefits of an audio proposal. What are the best strategies and practices for getting the stakeholder to believe in the idea?
A brief statement of the group’s solutions to those problems
In order to appropriately convince a stakeholder about the benefits and necessity of an audio proposal, you must take into account many factors including those that have nothing to do with the actual proposal being pitched. These include various selling strategies (understanding the audience, building coalitions and/or sponsors, competitive analysis), knowing when or when not to demo, and developing and delivering a compelling demonstration. In order to deliver a successful demo, you must minimize audience distractions, control the environment as best as possible, and take into account any audience sensitivities. After delivering your pitch, you must be prepared to follow up on the demonstration, and you must be persistent in your sales promotion. You must also understand that different strategies may be necessary for internal or external customers. Finally, once a stakeholder becomes your advocate, you must enable them with the tools that allow them to continue selling the proposal to their stakeholders.
Expanded problem statement:
To clarify, stakeholders are various key influencers and decision makers, who decide which audio features are going to make it into a product and eventually to the end consumers. Examples of stakeholders include yourself, your teammates, your managers, from your reporting manager all the way up the executive chain, as well as 3rd party ecosystem partners.
Here are some examples of making an argument for audio:
Expanded solution description:
Given the complexities and challenges of getting your audio message across, a good approach is to first develop an overall strategy.
Position Your Proposal
Develop a perspective on how you are going to position your audio feature in the demo. It helps to consider how the feature would be marketed to the end user. Consider the feature advantages and selling points. Understand the customer’s pain points as best you can. What problem does the feature solve? What is the user experience you want to convey? Work with the marketing team on how that feature will be marketed - think about the bullet points on the box, or potential names for the feature and use this in the demo.
It may be that just demonstrating the user experience will be sufficient to sell your feature, but often the audio feature is more subtle in which case user research data may be a key element of the sell. In this case, get data if possible to back you up - seek out available research in the literature, and if it is not available, consider doing your own user research, for example through a direct study or a general beta trial.
Understand Your Audience
Take time to understand your audience and tailor your presentation and demo appropriately. Are you demonstrating to an audio expert or audiophile, well versed in audio problems and solutions? Or are you demonstrating to a naive listener with little listening expertise and audio understanding? Then consider the needs of the listener. The audio expert doesn’t need as much context and background material to set up the demo. However, a naive listener needs help in framing the audio feature and what they need to pay attention to in the demo. Consider how best to make an emotional connection with the listener - success is much more likely when the listener feels spoken to personally, so consider the listener and how best to do this.
Depending on your product or audio feature, you need to consider the relative importance of what you are pitching within the product concept. How does audio factor into the purchase decision for your customer and end user. For example, audio capabilities may not be part of the purchase decision or may be weighted less heavily depending on user preference. Or, on mobile devices, size, weight, look and feel are critical to the purchase intent, and audio is oftentimes not considered at all. On a pro-audio speaker however, audio capabilities are the most important element and your demo approach must take this into account.
What is the business impact?
Consider the business impact of your feature - what are the costs and what are the benefits? Knowing your audience will eventually include the business decision maker, you need to be well versed on what information they need to help make the decision. Point to competitive solutions, if there are any. Tie in to the overarching company goals. Pitch your competitive advantages. What are the benefits of your solution, what is the new user experience? But as importantly, you will be challenged on the costs - e.g. size, shape, CPU, memory, battery life, etc - and you need to have the answers to questions around this. Seek out those who can provide details on what the business leaders and decision makers care about, and have answers ready to their concerns or objections.
Find the Decision Makers
It is important to find out who the key decision makers are and who needs to be included on the demo. Oftentimes it is unclear who makes the final decision and you will have to build on the success of each demo to get to the next decision maker - be prepared for this when dealing with larger, more established companies. In these cases you will likely have to provide several demos to different company stakeholders, like marketing, product management in addition to engineering as you make your way up the decision tree. Be persistent until you have demonstrated to the key decision makers and be consistent with your message. So factor this into your strategy and tailor your presentation and demo according to the audience. Consider potential objections up along the way, and always anticipate the needs of each audience member. Try to enlist a sponsor who will champion your audio feature to the decision makers.
Perfect Your Demo
Once you believe you have a solid strategy, test this with several folks first. Find a devil’s advocate and try to poke holes in your approach. Be objective and open to what can go wrong and deal with it head on. Having taken steps to consider your strategy and how best to get your message across, you will be that much closer to achieving your demo goals.
As one wise and clever person said, “talking about audio is like dancing about architecture”, so listening demos are a key strategy when making an argument for a new audio feature, quality improvement, or innovation.
However, listening demos can also work against you for a number of reasons, so you must consider carefully when deciding whether to present one.
When To Do A Listening Demo
So when should you do a listening demo for a stakeholder?
For the most part, A/B demos are a preferred way of presenting audio, however in some cases, a reference is not required. Such cases would include a purely experiential demo, or a demo to show that you have certain capabilities as a part of a bigger suite of features.
When Not To Do A Listening Demo
In some cases, doing a listening demo is not the best strategy.
Other factors to consider when creating and presenting a demo include various financial and legal considerations. Make sure that you can afford the cost of producing a demo, and get various NDAs and other legal protections in place.
Listening Demos - Best Practices
Demonstrating your audio product or innovation is often the best method to convince a stakeholder of the product’s viability and desirability. However, the method in which the product is demonstrated will have just as large of an affect on the demo results as the product itself. You must take the demonstration method and environment into account in order to achieve their desired result.
Some of the best practices that Perfect Pitch discussed include:
Develop the Demonstration and Establishing the Environment
Understand the Psychology of the Demo Audience / a.k.a. the “demonstratee”
Perform the Actual Demonstration
Known Shadow Tactics
Items from the brainstorming lists that the group thought were worth reporting:
Success and Not Success Stories
In making a pitch, there are many tactics that can prove effective or futile for a given audience. What follows are some techniques and lessons-learned when advocating for audio.
select a section:
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