Here’s how to make someone buy your $3,500 product

Inspire your customers with benefits, not features

Weeks later, people are still talking about the Apple Watch. Despite the fact that very few people I know actually ordered one. Of those that did order, many haven’t yet received their watch.

Meanwhile, Tesla recently announced the Powerwall, which has gone on to generate a healthy reservation list, but has done little by way of generating actual conversation.

Why is that?

It’s all about framing the conversation. Apple talks benefits, not features. We see a picture of a stupid Chipotle burrito button and can’t share it fast enough. It’s silly, but we can start to piece together the little ways a device like the Apple Watch can reduce friction in our lives — whether at the airport, the checkout counter, or when tracking our fitness levels. But so few companies inspire thinking in that way.

Apple does it. So does Nike. There’s at least one company that should be included in that discussion, but isn’t yet: Tesla

And it’s their own fault.

What if Tesla simply said, “What would you do with an extra $100,000?”

Press Kit | Tesla Motors

With the introduction of Tesla Energy and its sleek product Powerwall, an opportunity was missed to truly inspire consumers. 38,000 reservations is a number to be proud of, but it should’ve been ten times that.

Here’s how sections of the product page read. Notice how it slips between touching on benefits and falling back on its features. That’s fine when you have a product to put in people’s hands. When you’re trying to generate buzz and sell something completely new, it’s harder to picture in your mind.

Powerwall is a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels, or when utility rates are low, and powers your home in the evening. It also fortifies your home against power outages by providing a backup electricity supply. Automated, compact and simple to install, Powerwall offers independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency backup.

Not bad, although it’s not really inspiring me to run and find my credit card. Sounds like a fancy backup power supply — I haven’t needed one, so I definitely don’t need an expensive one.

The average home uses more electricity in the morning and evening than during the day when solar energy is plentiful. Without a home battery, excess solar energy is often sold to the power company and purchased back in the evening. This mismatch adds demand on power plants and increases carbon emissions. Powerwall bridges this gap between renewable energy supply and demand by making your home’s solar energy available to you when you need it.

I’ll take your word for it.

Current generation home batteries are bulky, expensive to install and expensive to maintain. In contrast, Powerwall’s lithium ion battery inherits Tesla’s proven automotive battery technology to power your home safely and economically. Completely automated, it installs easily and requires no maintenance.

Yeah.

Powerwall comes in 10 kWh weekly cycle and 7 kWh daily cycle models. Both are guaranteed for ten years and are sufficient to power most homes during peak evening hours. Multiple batteries may be installed together for homes with greater energy need, up to 90 kWh total for the 10 kWh battery and 63 kWh total for the 7 kWh battery.

Oh. I’m not sure how many kWh I use though. Am I supposed to math?

Look, I’m not trying to blast what I’m sure are incredibly genuine people who are trying to communicate very complex and important ideas to the masses. It’s easier said than done. I applaud Elon Musk and the entire Tesla team for what they’re doing — and I wouldn’t compare them to Apple or Nike if I didn’t believe they were capable of amazing feats.

Here’s all Tesla needed to do to sell the Powerwall

Right now, you pay an average of $2,200 per year on energy. Not to mention the stress our current forms of energy are placing on the environment and our one and only earth. A lifetime’s worth of energy comes bundled with staggering hidden costs.

What if you could change that with a single product?

Tesla’s Powerwall is here to help you do just that. For less than the cost of two years of energy bills, you can use a green, renewable energy source that will save you more than $100,000 over your lifetime. Most importantly, it will leave a positive imprint for all generations to follow.

The future of energy is here. We want to save you $100,000, making more money available to invest in you, your family, and the livelihood of all.

Will you join us?

Recommended reading: Other Halves

From Frank Chimero's Other Halves:

Knowledge work has its name for a reason: the challenges naturally swing towards the cerebral, and doubly so if you work in design for digital products. You spend hours and hours considering ways to think about what is ultimately an immaterial thing. And who’s to know if it’s done or right?

Writing is a lot like that, too. So, on average, most of my waking hours are spent wrestling with ghosts.

Reading List 4

I'm starting to wonder if I can manage to read 100 books this year. At the same time, I definitely don't want to set that "goal" because I know I'll be doomed to fail if I do.

April, 2015

Becoming Steve Jobs (Brent Schlender & Rick Tetzeli) - Overall, this is a good book with interesting untold stories. It actually develops Steve Jobs as a complete person. It's not perfect, and some of the shots it takes at Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs seem unnecessary. But, it doesn't need to be perfect.

Man v. Nature (Diane Cook) - A couple of the later short stories didn't hold my interest as much as the early stories, but I still maintain this book is an instant favorite.

Helvetica, Objectified, Urbanized: The Complete Interviews (Gary Hustwit) - This is a huge book - encyclopedia, really - that I backed on Kickstarter. It contains long and detailed interview transcripts with the people featured in Hustwit's documentary films. I've started reading the Jony Ive interview, and while I'll read this book in bits and pieces over time, I doubt I'll ever finish it.

Currently reading

Creativity, Inc. (Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace)

Previously

One / Two / Three