Despite common perceptions, simulations provide more value than just engineering insight. It can tell a story about your product while increasing brand perception, mitigating bias, and building trust among your customers.
Competitive Benchmarking and the Anchoring Effect
If you are trying to build market share, a common strategy is proving you have the best product in the space. Simulation can be utilized to benchmark your product’s performance against a competitor’s product (often called “A-to-B comparisons” among simulation engineers). This allows you to anchor your product’s performance to a known commodity that is already in the marketplace and gives your marketing team an advantage when crafting targeted customer messaging.
Customers begin to associate your product with the competition when making purchase decisions and investigate what makes your brand the best choice for them. For example, in the automotive space, a comparison study showcasing a proprietary suspension design which results in reduced noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) compared to a competitor’s vehicle. Knowing where these claims come from is empowering and gives your customer another meaningful piece of information to justify purchasing your product. Don’t be afraid to educate your customers.
Repeatability. Every Time. Everywhere.
I remember growing up and seeing a multitude of “As Seen on TV” product commercials where the announcer shouts at you “We tested this product 10,000 times and it didn’t break!” while you see a product being subjected to all kinds of random abuse in the background. Did you believe them? I personally found that “proof” very questionable.
When you are developing a product, a sizable portion of the development budget is going into validation. You want to make sure that your product survives the various applications your customer will subject it to. This can become an expensive endeavor in terms of cost and timing because companies can’t necessarily predict all the different ways a customer will use (or misuse) their product. On top of this, physical testing can be extremely subjective:
- Was the correct material used for the prototype during testing?
- Was the test executed according to the standard?
- Was the data gathered by the 10-year-old instrumentation accurate?
Simulation allows you to ensure these unknowns can be mitigated. Not only that, but also having the power to simulate your product in a variety of environments (not just the ones 95% of your customer base sees) ensures product robustness even when that particular environment or load condition cannot be captured during physical testing. Simulation gives you the confidence to say no stone was left unturned in the development of the product.
Seeing Is Believing
Is a customer more inclined to believe your product’s claim because you told them, or showed them too? It’s likely a combination of the two. If customers begin to doubt your product can perform as intended, warranty claims can spike and tarnish the brand. With simulation, lingering doubts can be remedied, because there is no subjective aspect to math. The simulation will run according to your inputs, boundary conditions, and data collection methods. Leveraging simulation, you can say with more confidence “yes, this product behaves as intended for its life, and here’s why”.
In the mind of the customer, you are psychologically replicating the trust of an independent study confirming your product’s performance. If your analysis is executed properly, it is a trustworthy and unbiased source of marketing material. On top of that, simulation allows you to create stunning animations, visualizations, and contours (color/heat maps) of your product. Think of it as an in-house design studio your marketing team can leverage for sleek product visuals.
These post-processing tools are especially useful in showing physical behavior that’s not easily visible, such as fluid flow or material deformation inside a product, without resorting to tearing down a product. Therefore, these visualization tools help your marketing team tell the story of your product in an easily consumable medium with an even higher fidelity than raw numbers or statements. A picture is worth a thousand words after all.
Putting In the Development Time
Lastly, the most important way to utilize simulation in your product’s marketing campaign is simply telling your customers you care about delivering the best possible product to them via the aforementioned simulation highlights. By leveraging these tools in your product marketing, customers see that you are not just launching a competing product and making eye-catching statements that may or may not be true. You are investing the time and money into developing the best possible product for your customer.
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