5 Tech Product Flops That Got Messaging All Wrong

Messaging is king. You might have the coolest tech product on the planet, but without great messaging, you won’t sell a single one. 

Telling the story of a product is especially difficult for the developers and engineers who make them. This also goes for engineering websites and apps: it’s not enough to have top products and services. You’ve got to convince others they’re great, while avoiding false promises. 

To demonstrate this point, let’s look at five tech product flops that might have worked…if only the messaging had been better. 


1. ISIS Mobile Wallet

Messaging starts with the product’s name. Of course, it’s hard to predict that a terrorist organization of the same name will come to the forefront. Still, the ISIS mobile wallet struggled to adapt to their predicament. It took them nearly two years to re-brand the product. While the mobile wallet’s features worked reasonably well, they lost their window of opportunity. Eventually the project was replaced by Google Wallet. 

Moral of the story: Choose your brand name wisely and adapt to needed messaging changes quickly. 


2. Coolest Cooler

Coolest Cooler had, well, the coolest brand… but struggled to live up to its name. It was supposed to include a party speaker and blend lid, but ultimately this product didn’t even reach most users. Customers were frustrated by delays in production, costly shipping ($97, really?), and lack of communication. The messaging for the Coolest Cooler put it on a pedestal, but didn’t have the follow-through.


Moral of the story:
Don’t promise what you can’t deliver and whenever possible, communicate issues to customers. 

3. Kolibree’s AI Toothbrush 

What exactly is an AI toothbrush? Nobody really knows. But Kolibree decided to market one with messaging later known as “fake AI.” The AI toothbrush didn’t actually use machine learning algorithms, though customers weren’t informed enough to know this. The range of “fake AI” products still available today shows that companies aren’t exactly staying within ethical messaging boundaries. 


Moral of the story:
Don’t bait-and-switch with your product features. Messaging is about building trust, especially in our fast-paced, digital world. 

4. Fire Phone

Amazon’s Fire Phone is considered a bit of a laugh. Though the project was backed by millions and was personally managed by CEO Jeff Bezos, its messaging was appalling. Instead of creating a smartphone worthy one of the slickest tech giants around, the Fire Phone turned out to be a front for Amazon ad-pushing. Talk about tacky. Basically, the smartphone was essentially an outlet for ads, which annoyed customers. And to top it off: the features were just meh. 


Moral of the story:
Don’t be underhanded with ads, serving them left and right. Instead, make a great product, period.


5. EONS.com

EONS.com sounds great in theory: “a social media platform for baby boomers.” But if you’re going to make a social media platform for older folks, it better be tailored to their wants and needs. And it shouldn’t look like the lame version of popular platforms. EONS.com messaging failed to attract their target audience and make social media more accessible to its baby-boomer focus group.


Moral of the story:
Customize your messaging according to your target audience. Blanket messaging will rarely get the job done.

As you can see, messaging is the muscle behind marketing your products and services. If you’re an engineer or developer, it’s especially important to consider the messaging on your website, app or product. This is especially true for social media messaging, which is used by 94% of marketers. You can start by avoiding the pitfalls of our five not-so-great examples above.

Not sure how to craft your website or app messaging? See more website messaging tips here or contact us for a consultation. 

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