A Truly Bad Demo Video

You’ve probably never heard of a great product for writers called Scrivener, which organizes research, notes and drafts, and compiles written chapters into books in many ebook formats. One reason you may never have heard of it is the exceptionally poor demos that are posted online. Below is one truly bad demo for the product, which doesn’t get to a useful or interesting product capability until 22:58. By comparison, the SpaceX only requires seven minutes to achieve earth orbit. Enough said.

03:00 – The first three minutes show download and installation…which takes 2 clicks

05:30 – “You’ll understand more as we go through.” This is the same as saying, “I cannot explain this feature.” If it’s important, explain it. If it’s not important, don’t show it.

16:34 – A long segment on changing the text color. The last time this was a hot button for any buyer was in 1983 during Ronald Reagan’s first term.

20:20 – “One thing I haven’t shown you is the Trash Can.” This sentence is the very definition of a Feature Dump. Never in the history of software sales has the Trash Can ever been somebody’s Hot Button!

22:58 – You finally see what makes the product unique and exciting. Too bad everybody clicked away 20 minutes ago.

Can this demo be fixed? No. The demo giver wants to give a Grand Tour. He shows no recognition that a user has problems they need to solve, or that viewers’ time is valuable. For example, demonstrating every aspect of trash can operation takes a full minute! 


How to Avoid the Grand Tour

It’s time to start over with a ranked list of customer Hot Buttons. Create a series of new demos, each 2-3 minutes long, to address that list. A day spent interviewing prospective Scrivener customers might reveal this list of five common Hot Buttons, any one of which could get a writer excited enough to buy the product:

  • Writing a novel bottom-up (starting with a scene they dreamed up years ago)
  • Writing a novel top-down (outline first)
  • Developing characters using Show Don’t Tell
  • Reorganizing and adding scenes to improve the plot
  • Organizing research and interviews

The right move is to create five, two-minute demos that each show the solution to one Hot Button. Imagine if those were presented on a demo page, followed by a couple more with titles like “3 Scrivener Secrets You Can’t Live Without” and “Watch Scrivener Make Writing Fun.” Visitors who cannot find something they want to see on that page are probably not good sales prospects!


Next Steps

To learn more about creating demo videos, check out “How to Create a Video that Sells.”

The lesson “How to Cut a 30 Minute Demo to 3 Minutes” describes a similar process for live presentations.