May 6, 2022
Demystifying content design at Urban Company
Apple and Samsung have already established the gold standard for selling physical products. They do that with great copywriting and state-of-the-art landing pages to showcase their products in their full glory. Each piece of text, graphics, exploded views, what those products, in turn, produce or achieve for the customer.
Today, if one were to sell a good product, they already know the playbook to sell it:
Produce excellent quality of graphics with photo-manipulation techniques, packaging of the product
Write clean, crisp and sharp copy — what the product does, its features, specifications, detailed feature covers, FAQs, and all the bells & whistles.
Great scriptwriting for simple, short videos that explain how a product works, how it’ll make your life great
This playbook works great for selling products. In India, popular direct-to-consumer brands like March Tee, Sleepy Owl, Muse, and Xrig have been following the playbook and doing a phenomenal job. They all look great!
Then there are services.
Services like Haircut at home, AC servicing, Facials at home, Cooks, Bathroom & Kitchen cleaning, and Car cleaning. And, how do you sell these services like Apple or Samsung sell physical products?
Selling services are way more complex than selling physical products. Let’s look at some of the nuances before we answer this question:
If you pay, say ₹1,000 for a product on Amazon, you know you’ll get that exact product (mostly 🤞) at your doorstep. That’s it. That’s what you paid for.
E.g. 1: If you pay, say ₹1,000 for a facial, at a salon — you get an in-person consultation on which facial to get, the actual facial, 20–30mins of pampering, some chit chat and done.
If you pay, say, ₹1,000 for a facial at home, what are you really paying for? Will there be in-consultation? Would you have to self-guide to the best facial? If yes, how? Does the app have enough information for you to decide for yourself? What happens if you don’t like it? There are too many ingredients and stuff… how will we get past all that complexity?
E.g.2: If you pay ₹3,000 for deep cleaning of your fresh-from-road-trip car at a service station — you drive to the shop, hand over the keys, they take the dirty car, a few hours later, they give you back a fresh mint car at an extra few hundred to drop the car at home.
If you pay ₹3,000 for car deep cleaning via an app, what are you paying for? Will they bring the right equipment to clean the car? How? These shops have massive hydraulic elevators; how will they do it at home? Will they clean my car seats? Do they carry different chemicals for fabric seats or leather seats? How will I provide water?
As you see, users have a very different model when they come on an app to avail services vs how they’re used to for decades. It’s a tough problem statement. Solvable but tough.
Thankfully, this is where content design comes in.
A content design team comprises a bunch of different specialities, but very importantly:
Content writers understand each service in-depth, understand what users look for, and articulate the right, valuable things in sharp, crisp, easy-to-understand language.
Graphic, motion, video designers — who translate content into consumable content. It may require a graphical representation of written content into an infographic. Sometimes, rich photo-manipulated illustrations and motion to show how a specific service works (imagine how TVCs show toothpaste working to protect your gums).
Both need to understand customer expectations and services SOPs (standard operating procedures, i.e. how services are supposed to be delivered following our standardised guidelines). And then manifest these on apps where users typically spend a mere 30–90 seconds to make a purchase decision.
In SEO, one tends to expand on a few keywords in marketing long-form content. In content design, we need to compress without compromising on clarity. It’s short-form writing at its best.
While designing content, one can try each service themselves and actually be in a user’s shoes to write and empathise with what works and what doesn’t.
It’s not writing for writing’s sake. It’s the limited window of talking to users via the app. It’s writing a no-nonsense, no-flowery language, sharp elevator pitch to our users.
In closing, while Apple, Dyson, and Samsung have created a gold standard of creating state-of-the-art content for consumer products, there’s not a SINGLE company that has done the same for consumer services at home! That playbook is yet to be written.
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