There are so many instances today that the user guide that goes along with the product is often dull and even confusing while its counterparts before the sale, brochures and catalogs, are often fabulously designed and printed on coated glossy paper. Does the user guide really not deserve a fair focus? Doesn’t it have any marketing functionality at all?
The answer is quite obvious, and in fact the user guide should even deserve more than a fair focus as brochures and catalogs do. As a direct portal to the product features, the user guide is of great significance for the actual users to learn about the product. And whether they find the learning is easy and pleasant could ignite their favor or repulse toward the product itself. So, the point is, a nicely designed user guide is a most crucial documentation to help existing customers cultivate brand faith and loyalty, and further retain and enlarge the user base of the whole lines of products under the same brand. Take Apple as a good example, its products are widely known for perfected user experience. But is that refined user experience solely built on presale propaganda? Absolutely no, and in fact Apple has prepared first class user guides that are as sleek in design just as their fabulous brochures and catalogs for each of their product line, because they believe everything contained in their product package matters and can influence how their users think of them. Then we start seeing flocks of people waiting at Apple stores overnight for every new type of iPhone and iPad to go on market.
A great many companies are reluctant to invest their resources in the development of user guides simply because it does not attract new customers and thus bring no profit. This is definitely a short-sighted view which is applied in many starter businesses’ operating philosophy, or something we call “penny-wise, pound-foolish”. While they are branding their first-class user experience as good as Apple’s, most of them have neglected the very first thing that composes a fine user experience, and that is an exceptional user guide.
Why should customer retention be of top concern again? Customer retention is not merely about retaining your existing customer, but also about bringing in new customers and revenues. What most companies have not realized is that it is the existing passionate users that greatly help evangelize their products to their friends and relatives, who could easily turn into new customers of the product. And those who do have turned into new users could carry on the mission of evangelizing the product to an even wider audience and many more new sales could be made. In this age of intensified ads competition, a lucid and illustrative user guide can be the key difference that distinguishes the very product from the average. So in long term, rather than pouring large amounts of money into advertisement and before-sale documentations such as brochures and catalogs, it will be a wise idea to allocate a little more budget and resources to the development of user guides, which DO attract new users and bring in enormous profit as well.