#43: Step by Step

Discover the surprising connection between product demos and walking tours

Is there anything better than Boston in the fall 🍂

I headed east this week to record a live episode of my friend Daniel’s podcast The Marketing Millennials at Harvard Business School. It was a total #goals moment.

I’m now manifesting my new course Ready for Launch as a future Harvard class. No harm in dreaming, right? (more on this below)

Post recording and after the obligatory photoshoot (look Dad, I’m at Harvard!), I decided to take in the sights of the city. With limited time, I went on a Freedom Trail walking tour.

Our tour guide was an incredible storyteller, and it immediately made me think about a statement I heard at a conference a few weeks ago:

What it takes to be successful in walking tours is no different than product demos.

Zach Roberts

If you’re starting to think I’ve lost the plot, stick with me here. In today’s edition, I’m going to connect the dots between free walking tours, storytelling and product demos (with a little help from Zach).

Let’s go for a stroll.


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5 Lessons from Walking Tours

If you’ve ever been on a walking tour, you’ll know that it’s rooted in story. You don’t simply stroll around town looking at random sights. The guide builds a path that takes you on a very intentional, educational and often compelling journey.

The same should be said for product demos - but, it’s not often the case. How many times have you witnessed a demo that feels like an overwhelming barrage of features without any context?

Zach Roberts was once a walking tour guide in San Francisco. It was a great way for him to show folks around his city. When he moved into tech, he immediately saw the parallels between the two worlds and he used the lessons he learned as a guide to set his product demos apart.

Here’s the 5 lessons so you can apply them for yourself.

#1. Know how they found you

It’s essential to understand what brought someone to you - whether it’s a walking tour or a product demo. Were they referred by a friend? If so, they probably have some pre-existing context. Did they find you randomly on Google? You might need to conduct deeper introductions. Gathering these important details up front sets you up for success from the beginning.

#2. Hear where they came from

Their previous experiences are going to impact how they engage with your tour or demo. Where’s your starting point for the demo? Have they already done similar demos, or is this their first one? Are they new to the industry or do they have deep expertise? Understanding the background will allow you to tailor your demo appropriately. Knowing where they came from will help you bridge the gap to where they want to go.

#3. Gather expectations of what’s to come

Identify their perception of your product and company. Each person will enter the demo with different expectations and biases - maybe they already consider you the industry leader, or maybe they’ve already written you off. When you gather those expectations you can build a story that resonates with the person you’re talking to.

#4. Don’t see things through your own opinion

For the duration of the demo, step outside of your own perspective and opinions and put yourself into the shoes of the buyer. Observe and absorb. Make your customer the hero of the story (it’s about them, not you).

#5. Don’t throw the kitchen sink at them

The best demos - like the best walking tours - are a curated experience. They are designed specifically with the target customer in mind. This requires restraint. Highlight the most important details upfront, and let others get unearthed through questions.

Want to take Zach’s framework one step further? He’s kindly offered to share this freebie with 8 questions to ask when you want to sell value.

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🛠 Tools: Traveling for work? Kick your jetlag to the curb with Timeshifter (yes even a 3-hour timezone difference throws me off).

📚 Reading Material: My friend Harvey’s book Backstage Pass is on pre-order. It’s 50% rock and roll, 50% business, 100% true. Grab your own copy and we can read along together.

It’s turkey day here in Canada 🦃 This year I’m feeling extra thankful for all of you. Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving - off to stuff my face enjoy a lovely family meal!

- Tamara