If you want people to believe in something that’s true-but-hard-to-believe — you simply demonstrate that your product does what you say it does. Show them how it works. Here’s one famous example …
The history of the elevator is long and rich. But the first elevators weren’t installed until the mid 18th century.
While these elevators were convenient, there was just one potentially fatal problem. If the lift cable broke, the cab dropped — wounding or killing everyone inside.
One enterprising type, a man by the name of Elisha Otis, decided it was time to change that. So, in 1852, he introduced his safety elevator.
But he didn’t just simply run around town nailing posters of his invention on doors and horse posts and saloon walls.
He introduced his safety elevator with a very dramatic demonstration.
In 1853, in front of a crowd of onlookers at the Crystal Palace, Otis raised his safety elevator three stories high, and then cut the cable — while he was still inside.
In this 8-minute episode you’ll discover:
- The fate of Elisha Otis
- How the founder of Dropbox demonstrated his product (before it even existed)
- Which group of professionals know instinctively to demonstrate their product to make more sales
- The very first item that was blended on Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?” show
- The simplest way to demonstrate a product (think chronology)
Listen to Rough Draft below ...
How to Sweep Away Skepticism with a Dramatic Demonstration
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Demian Farnworth: Howdy, this is Rough Draft, your daily dose of essential web writing advice. I am Demian Farnworth, your host, your muse, your digital recluse, and the Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media.
And thank you for sharing the next few minutes of your life with me.
Where I live, in the rural part of Southern Illinois, in the land of apple orchards and cornfields, what I like to call the Poor Man’s Tuscany, there aren’t many elevators out here.
At least not the kind that move busy men and women up and down inside a building.
The tallest structures out here — the ones that tower over the horizon like a silver rocket aimed at the moon — are grain silos. And instead of people elevators, you have bucket elevators, scooping up grain, elevating the bucket to the top of the silo, and dumping it.
During harvest time everything is covered in dust.
Now, this might surprise you, but elevators have a rich history. A long rich history.
The first mention of an elevator is thought to be around 236 A.D., where a gentleman named Vitruvius … says something about Archimedes, building an elevator around 236 BC.
And just to give you some context on how long ago this was, a few decades earlier Hannibal made his famous Alpine crossing to invade Italy, and Qin Shi Huang of the Chinese Qin Dynasty ordered construction of the Great Wall of China.
That probably didn’t help you at all.
Strangely enough, talk of elevators goes quiet for a number of centuries. In fact, it was nearly seventeen hundred years later before the first working models were actually installed — and they were installed in English and French palaces, no less.
The people with the big money.
While these elevators were convenient, there was just one problem. One potentially fatal problem. If the lift cable broke, the cab dropped – wounding or killing everyone inside.
Naturally, your enterprising types, your Richard Branson’s and PT Barnum’s of the day saw the opportunity to make some serious cash. To save lives, yes, but also to make some serious cash.
The Fate of Elisha Otis
One enterprising type, a man by the name of Elisha Otis, did just that. In 1852, he introduced his safety elevator. But he didn’t just simply run around town nailing posters of his invention on doors, horse posts and saloon walls. No. He introduced his safety elevator with a very dramatic demonstration.
In 1853, in front of a crowd of onlookers at the Crystal Palace — which was this gigantic structure made out of iron and glass, nearly one million square feet, rivalling any modern shopping mall — Otis raised his safety elevator three stories high, and then cut the cable – while he was still inside.
The crowd gasped.
But instead of plunging into the ground below and wounding or killing Otis, the elevator stopped when a pair of knurled rollers engaged. Otis was shaken up, but unhurt.
Shortly thereafter orders came in hot and heavy.
Here’s your lesson: Otis’ demonstration proves an important principle about belief: If you want people to believe in the hard to believe — then simply demonstrate what your product does.
Show them how it works.
The Very First Item that Was Blended On Blendtec’s “Will It Blend” Show
The blender company Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?” YouTube videos are examples of dramatic demonstrations.
To dismiss any skepticism about their claim that their blenders could grind anything and still remain sharp, Blendtec blends iPhones, camcorders, hearing aids, rakes, and so on. And it all started when the CEO Tom Dickson blended a box of matches.
Views of the videos blew through the roof – as did sales of the blenders.
In fact, these videos worked so well the YouTube channel has become somewhat of a cult fascination … people begging to see the latest tech gadgets ground into dust by the Blendtec blenders.
Which Group of Professionals Know Instinctively to Demonstrate Their Product to Make More Sales
No surprise that car salespeople rely heavily on this principle of dramatic demonstration. The good salesmen, instead of wasting hours talking about a car they simply hand the keys over.
And this is how, as a young couple with two small children, my wife and I ended up with a used Buick Regal instead of a mini van.
After driving the Regal, I simply could not see myself in anything else but those leather seats, with the sunroof open, the Monsoon stereo system booming, and that turbo charged V6 zooming us along to our children’s next play date at the Magic House.
That little drive the salesman offered snookered me.
And you friend, must do the same. You must find a way to demonstrate your product. Whether it is software or a service.
How the Founder of Dropbox Demonstrated His Product (Before It Even Existed)
You’ll have to be creative. Legend has it that Drew Houston, the guy behind Dropbox, demonstrated how his product would work with a short video — before the product was even created.
Before and after photos are simple, but dramatic demonstrations, too.
The Shamwow video was a dramatic demonstration. It had to be because the claim that it could hold 12 times it’s weight in liquid had to be seen. It was dramatic.
So, don’t forget: the more dramatic, the better. And next time you are in an elevator, say thanks to Elisha Otis and his knurled rollers. We no longer have to fear becoming pancakes every time we ride the elevator.
And until next time. Take care.