Lance Tracey shared this great post with me from Kathy Sierra on the Headrush Blog. She asks a very good question… why do so many companies treat potential users so much better than existing users? So much time and effort is put in to designing slick glossy brochures to attract new users, while product manuals are treated as a painful afterthought – usually black and white printing on low-grade stock. Yet, product manuals are to be used by existing users who have bought from you. You would think they would matter most and the information they need from you would be packaged accordingly. But in almost all cases, it isn’t. And we wonder why users don’t read the f***ing manual! I’m guilty of it myself. There is such a natural tendency by business operators and marketers to entice and capture new customers, rather than focus on their captive mass. I think ‘hunting’ seems sexier than ‘cultivating’ so we align our marketing resources as such. What would happen if it were the other way around and we placed more emphasis on our current users and treated them the same or better, not worse. You could turn them in to a highly effective viral marketing channel by engaging and helping them to become as passionate about your product as you are. You’ll get the new users as a result.
So put your money where your users are if you’re in it for the long haul and develop kickass support material. This isn’t the place to cut corners. And as Kathy suggests, make your manuals so good and informative that they could also be used as sales brochures.