4 Creative Visual Demos That Go Beyond Video

August 16, 2016 Debra Ruehlman


Last week, I shared 5 visual communication tools that I use to inspire R&D and creative work, test ideas, sell products, and communicate complex technology. But after spending 26 years at Procter & Gamble, 3 years in television stations and another 10 years consulting on visual communication, I’ve learned that product and concept demos can go way beyond what you put on videotape. To be sure, video demos are important, but let me take you beyond the videotape. Here’s where my theater background comes into play!


1. Live Demos for Trade Buyers and Your Consumers

Do it live, right before their very eyes! Yes, pouring water on a paper product and showing how the wicking works, or how dry the table is, can certainly be done on video. But if you demonstrate it in real life, even better! Think about demos you have already recorded and see if they can be adapted for a live presentation. If you can do it in real time, at the buyer’s desk, or if a consumer can do it themselves at a demo table in the store aisle, any doubt about “special effects” are immediately dispelled. That’s a real WOW! that will help close the sale.

2. Immersion

Engage all your prospects' senses and make them part of what you are trying to communicate. For example, while working on a pre-natal product, I was challenged to come up with a high impact way to demonstrate a new technology. Customers were ushered into a meeting room we designed to create a womb-like experience … round, soft, cushy, and protective. A company rep delivered the live presentation while video monitors explained the technical details. Attendees got both the sizzle and the substance. The womb environment said “We know babies.”  The videos and presentation said “We know technology.”  Product sold!

Watch On Demand: Webinar A Picture is Worth 1000 Words with Michael Mason

3. Experiential

Create an environment that showcases your expertise, “describes” various consumer segments, or demonstrates emotional benefits. Then let your employees, customers, or consumers live it. Talk is cheap (and boring!) If you really want to educate your target audience and leave them saying WOW! have them participate in an experiential demonstration.  Here are several examples, ranging from simple to more elaborate:

  • A client wanted to explain their different market segments. I was asked to deliver a PowerPoint and video presentation in a conference room … typical, but rather boring. Instead, I moved tables and chairs around and added props. They were all “business props” (pads of paper, pens, water pitcher, glasses, snacks, a tissue box and a vase of flowers). Although each table had the same props, through color, pattern, and style selection, each table had a distinct look and feel, which reflected the uniqueness of each market segment. It was interesting to see which people gravitated to which table as they came into the room. For added emphasis, I changed jackets as I presented each different market segment.
  • An empty model home is a great place to host a day or week-long offsite meeting to share consumer insight results. For one brand, we propped out each room in a model home to reflect how different “mom segments” would do things in their own home (decorate, cook, clean, organize, etc.), all gleaned from consumer insight work. Even each meal and snack was tailored to reflect the moms represented by each room.
  • This model home experience can also be implemented in the lobby of a business. For example, one brand propped out various lobby areas in a manner that reflected how each target consumer segment would decorate for and enjoy the holidays. From elaborate to simple and everywhere in between, each area had the same props: gifts, gift wrap, a throw on the sofa, a rug, holiday decorations, snacks, etc. But each was styled in a way that quickly and clearly communicated what made each segment unique. Best of all, employees “lived” the segments every day!
  • You can surround people with demos without them even knowing it. Pampers needed to teach product developers and marketers the various stages of baby development and what activity babies do at each stage, so that stage-appropriate products could be created. The problem: many employees had no children, or their children were out of the relevant baby stage. Working on a shoestring budget, we photographed employees and their children in all the various stages, doing things that had been identified as key activities for each stage. The photos were enlarged and converted into large pieces of wall art and banners that decorated both the inside and the outside of the building. What a hit! Our “demos” of what babies do in each stage were scrutinized by employees every day. Members of the Pampers team often stopped an employee mom or dad and questioned them personally about their child and what might be appropriate. A huge added bonus: Employee morale! Who doesn’t like seeing their own baby on the walls?
  • Take it on the road. Travelling “exhibits” let consumers learn about your products first hand. For example, trucks that bring a playground and interactive experience to a store parking lot have helped moms and their children learn about new toys and playground equipment. Pop-up tents with various activities have let consumers experience both new and existing products across a variety of categories.

4. There’s an App for That

Interactive apps are a great way to demonstrate your product experience, particularly for new technology or the use of existing technology in a new space. For example, one client asked for a demo for a new product targeted to non-US consumers. Smart phones were widely used in the target country. After learning the new product technology and brainstorming, we decided to forgo a traditional demo. Instead, we developed the concept for an interactive app that delivered the demonstration right in the palm of the consumer’s hand. The chief technology people were blown away. They already had the algorithms in place to execute the idea, but had never thought about applying those algorithms in that way.

So when you think of demos, think off the screen. There are many ways of “demo-ing” your products, technology and ideas that go well beyond what will fit on a screen.

Need help getting started? Contact me and let’s brainstorm how these ideas, or others, can help you jumpstart your visual communication initiatives. Watch the webinar below to learn more about developing effective product demonstrations.

Watch On Demand: Webinar A Picture is Worth 1000 Words with Michael Mason

About Debra Ruehlman: Debra is a Visual Communication expert with nearly 40 years of experience, including 26 years with Procter & Gamble and 10 years as a Visual Communication Consultant for leading consumer product companies. Her career spans television production and writing, advertising production, and product development. She began her Procter & Gamble career in TV commercial production and then transitioned to upstream product development, where she worked with engineers, designers and product researchers to visualize and communicate complex technical concepts and ideas into easily-understood communications for management and consumer evaluation. A YourEncore expert since 2006, Debra helps clients bring their concepts and products to life through highly creative, innovative, and unexpected visual and experiential methods. 



Previous Article
FSMA Compliance: 4 Steps to Move Forward with Confidence
FSMA Compliance: 4 Steps to Move Forward with Confidence

The time is now, yet the journey is still just beginning. Since January 2011, significant work h...

Next Article
5 Visual Communication Tools that Build Brands
5 Visual Communication Tools that Build Brands

When you hear the term “product demonstration,” you typically think of a TV commercial showing h...