Limited only by your imagination

Spider-manAre your customers completely devoid of imagination?  Do they consistently fail to understand how hugely useful your product is?  Do they consistently fail to use it in the way that you intended?

Remind them with this cute and all powerful marketing phrase; “Limited only by your imagination”.

Actually, don’t.

Apart from the fact that it suggests, in a backhanded way, that your customer, has a pretty limited imagination (“The product is limited only by your complete lack of imagination”), it really tells them nothing more.  In fact the implication is that you don’t know what your customers could possibly do with your product.

In The Economist last week there was an article about Stan Lee.  Stan was editor in chief of Marvel Comics for 30 years where, with Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, they created Spider Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Thor and Iron Man.  Now that is imagination at work!

In the article Stan talked about how the development of special-effects finally allowed their creations to reach the screen in the mid-1990s: “there is now nothing that you can imagine that cannot be shown”.

I’ve had the pleasure of working in the computer graphics and visual effects industries for many years, and was part of that 1990s revolution that allowed Stan’s creative genius to come to the screen. It is a fascinating industry and one where the ability to imagine what cannot currently be seen is an everyday requirement.

So how do companies market the incredibly flexible, creative products in this sector?  Take a look at some of the major players like Autodesk, Avid and Adobe and you quickly get an idea of what they consider important about their messages:

  • “Create breathtaking 3D and meet production demands with fast, efficient tools and workflows” (Autodesk Maya)
  • “an industry standard for online visual effects and compositing, accelerating creative workflows” (Autodesk Flame)
  • “The world’s most powerful film and video editing software” (Avid MediaComposer)

Down to earth, customer concerns, functionality, integration, what it does.  I looked these up after I had this article half written and was happy to see how well they avoided the pitfall.  Then I came across:

  • “the ultimate playground for bringing out the best in your digital images and transforming them into anything you can imagine” (Adobe Photoshop Family)

Oh, doh!  Guys, my 12 year old son can take a picture of your product and turn it into a frog (he’s into Origami), you can’t do that!  Ok, ok, take any family wedding photo and turn it into World Peace.  Go on, try.  More likely is that most people using your product on their wedding photos would cause a Tarantino-esque family blood bath with the result.  Shame because I really liked the word “playground”. it suggest exploration, trying daring jumps, excitement and adrenalin, all without risk: a nice set of associations for editing images.

So, less emphasis on what your customers might or might not imagine and more emphasis on why they would actually want to use your products.  No more “Limited only by your imagination” for which, sadly, a Google search returns around 158,000 today.

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2 Responses to Limited only by your imagination

  1. Hi Chris,
    just writing to say that your newsletter often brings a smile to my face.

    I hope you are well.

    Kind regards


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