Is a Product Demo Simulation-Based Marketing?

By | November 22, 2009

I was explaining to a friend today about my ideas regarding “simulation-based marketing,” and he said that in his (IT) line of work, they demonstrate their software to potential customers, using fake data.  The question becomes, “is simulation-based marketing” just another term for doing product demos?

I think that at the heart of product sales and marketing is a product demo, since the point is really to tell prospects what the product is and why they should want it.  However, simulation-based marketing is a broader concept, encompassing not only the product demo itself, but also the context in which the demo is presented.

For example, he does his demonstrations live (via the Internet, through WebEx or GoToMeeting), as well as at conferences.  The kind of simulations I originally thought about were more of the variety where there is no live element to it, i.e., it is self-running.  Clearly, though, that is only one possible mode for presenting demonstrations, and our work in the past few years has expanded to build out the other components for online product demonstrations, namely SimTracker (for behavioral metrics), and LiveDrive (our own term, not the online storage site), for synchronous meetings around specific products.

In my head, I’ve always thought about marketing as about generating awareness, where it goes over to sales to do things like conduct product demos and close the sale.  However, especially in today’s markets where access to product information is so readily available (people making buying decisions virtually completely on the basis of what they find on the Internet), it makes sense that companies use product demos even as first-exposure to prospects so the prospects are aware of competitive or unique features.

Bottom line is that I think one could tease apart a product demonstration meant for marketing, from one meant for sales.  They may have a great deal in common (and also have a lot in common with product demos used for training or customer support, for that matter), but I could see someone making a distinction between a product demo meant to generate awareness of capability, versus a product demo for the actual sale that is more comprehensive.

I would love to hear from marketing people about where this fits into traditional marketing (or sales).

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