August 29, 2006
Liz published this at 1:19 pm
What You Have Here James Is . . .
Product reviews. We all do them. We love to tell people what we like about stuff. Even more, we love to tell them what’s wrong with stuff. . . .
The President had started a discussion about a product we were prototyping. Our new product was meant to compete with one that had owned the market for 10 years.
“So, what do you think of the product that’s out there?” the President asked the editors.
Each editor was eager to respond and gave in detail the things that she saw in the existing product. The President made sure that every editor had a chance to talk.
“I wonder how it continues to sell 100,000+ units per book per year?” Then he glanced over my way and said, “That’s why no one listens to editors’ opinions. They only talk about the negatives.”
I was the only person in the company who reviewed product for the President.
Where do you get advice about products? Most people trust friends and family first. If friends and family don’t know, research says that 77 percent of online shoppers read consumer product reviews and ratings.
That means you’ve probably done that.
Product review are big business . . .
. . . if folks feel they can trust what the review says.
If you want credibility James Bond would trust, you have to know 4 things before you start and tell 6 things when you write..
. . .
4 Things to Know and 6 to Tell
People don’t have enough family and friends to advise them on every product they might be considering. That leaves us to find other folks we might trust. Ebert and Roper aren’t much use, if we wonder whether to believe their reviews.
Yet, Ebert and Roper had credibility almost from the first time I watched them. It’s not that I agreed with what they said. I rarely do. It’s that they know what they are doing and what to tell.
Reviewing a product is knowing and telling. There are 4 things to know before you start and 6 things to tell when you write.
4 Things to Know
1. Know your purpose for writing. Are you writing to inform a large audience? Is this a way to establish your knowledge base as an expert? Could you be writing to tell me about something new you’ve discovered? All are good reasons to write a review. All are reasons to want to make the review credible.
2. Know how the reader will be using it. Will I use your review to purchase the product? Will I make marketing decisions from it? Will I be using this review to see how you might write, design, or develop products for me as your client?
3. Know how your experience can add value to the content. If possible, use the product before you review it. If you can’t, say what you’d expect based on your experience with such products. I can extrapolate if I need to. Your experience is probably more than I have, or I wouldn’t be reading your review.
4. Know the difference between fact and opinion. There’s room for passion, and passion is fun to read about. But you and I need to be clear on what parts are your opinion and that my opinion might be different.
6 things to Tell
1. Say what it is. Make a chart or write a description, but tell me what exactly you’re talking about. Err on the side of too much detail. If it’s missing and I need it, I can’t use your review to make a decision.
2. Say what it isn’t — the facts. Don’t tell me about your disappointments. Think of what I might expect the product to be and then make sure I know if something in that definition is missing.
3. Say what it does. Tell me the key features and what each one will do for me.
4. Say what is unique, positive and compellingly interesting. This is the place where you get to share your opinion. Try not to “hate” things; say why you don’t “love” them. Have fun with telling me. Say “zoom, zoom,” if you want. Please don’t vent or carry grudges — Bill Gates’ personality doesn’t belong in a review on IE7.
5. Say what you wish for or thought would be there that is missing. Adding this helps me see you as a thorough analyst and visionary. It also helps me understand the parameters of what the product limits are.
6. Say what the main benefit of having the product is. In one sentence tell me what I will have or be able to do if I use this product. That will sum up your review and will be what I remember as your promise. If I buy the product and it does this, I will think your review was done well.
Write a product review that others can trust and you offer a valuable resource. Solid product reviews help companies and regular folks, like me, make decisions — decisions that save us money. We hardly have time to find the products they need. How can we investigate which of the bunch is just the right one?
A little creativity and a few solid product reviews and you have a category to write about that brings new readers to your blog, a new service for your business, a new way to show your expertise and experience, a new way to capitalize on your strengths and build your brand.
James Bond has to rely on someone credible or one of his gadgets would backfire . . . .and we’d be calling him James, James B–.
Right a review that James Bond can trust and folks like me will trust you too.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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