Make your demo a gift worth getting

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During the holidays, the best-wrapped gifts get the most attention. Shiny metallic wrapping paper and perfectly tied bows make people excited about what's on the inside. The trick is to generate the same buzz for your products or services all year long. With the right packaging, your demos will excite prospects and become your strongest lead generator.

Unfortunately, creating a demo is more difficult than choosing the right ribbon. Here is a list of the biggest mistakes to avoid:

n Too much noise. Use your demo to showcase features and benefits, not waste time reiterating advertising copy. Prospects want to know how you're going to improve their business, and they want you to be quick about it.

n Not enough personality. There's a fine line between noise and personality. Avoid useless demo material that only adds dramatic effect, but don't forget to include your company's look and feel. Your demo should reinforce your brand and be consistent with your company's voice.

n More tell than show. Don't tell prospects what you can do, show them. Show how you can help. On average, a person tends to remember only 10% of what they read but 50% of what they see and hear. Providing a simulated experience can increase a person's retention rate by 90%.

n Flat content without the POP! Instead of going through PowerPoint slides filled with overused, flat sales copy, educate your prospects on your "Wow Factor"-the one thing that makes your product or service pop. Use clear and concise product-centric content.

n Difficult access. If you want maximum exposure for your product, then your demo needs to be easily accessible for all prospects. Offer an automated, streaming demo that can be placed on your Web site, on marketing CDs, looped at trade shows, embedded in e-mails and downloaded onto laptops.

Keep your demo product-centric, engage your prospect and leverage viewing options to get maximum exposure. In the end, your demo will be the best gift you could give potential customers.

JC Stites is CEO and founder of Autodemo, Louisville. He can be reached at [email protected]

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