When you sit at your computer to write your next marketing piece you’re faced with a challenge. What exactly do you write to persuade people to buy your product or service?
Novices tend to simply list the features of their business and products or services:
- We specialise in…
- We offer a range of…
- We’ve been in business since…
- We provide same day service…
- We’re expert at…
Features are important. But if you want to persuade more prospective clients to whip out their cheque books there’s something else you should be writing about: the benefits of doing business with you.
Benefits are the fuel that drives your marketing communications. The difference between success and failure of your website, brochure, proposals or direct mail piece often comes down to the benefits offered.
Features tell, benefits sell
Features are descriptive facts about your product or service. Benefits are what clients gain as a result of using a feature. Benefits are much, much more important than features because they contain a “what’s in it for me?” motivation.
Here’s a simple example: A new Volvo station wagon has Integrated Two-Stage Child Booster Cushions. That’s a feature. The benefit is that, in the event of a crash, children who have outgrown their toddler seats are protected from injury. To say it another way, the Booster Cushions are the feature, and superior crash protection for children is the benefit.
Turning features into benefits
Here’s a simple technique for turning features into benefits. Write down all the features of your product or service. Next, put yourself in your prospective client’s shoes. Then for each feature ask “So what?” The answer to this question describes the benefits of each feature. And remember, a feature can have more than one benefit.
Don’t forget about emotional benefits, or the benefit of the benefit. Using the Volvo child seat example from above, the emotional benefit is that you have peace of mind that your family is protected when you’re driving your car.
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These days, most people are time poor and cash strapped. So if you can demonstrate how your product or service can save them time and/or money you’ll get a very positive emotional response. Minimising hassles, relieving stress and making life easier are also excellent emotional hot buttons to push.
Take your notepad to a café and spend a morning writing a comprehensive benefits list. It’s time well spent. When you have a benefits list creating better marketing materials is a lot easier because you’re not starting from scratch every time. You already have all the ammunition you need.
How to use benefits
The easiest and most effective way to improve your marketing materials is to clearly state benefits. Why? Because so few of your competitors do. According to marketing guru Jay Levinson in Guerrilla Marketing Excellence, “All you’ve got to do is consistently put across any one of those benefits to the people who want them right now and you’ve virtually made the sale.”
For better marketing, sprinkle benefits all the way through your marketing text. For example, every time you mention a feature, follow with the most desirable corresponding benefit. Use connectors such as:
- “Which means…”
- “This is important because…”
- “Our clients love this because…”
Or simply include a benefits list on your brochure, website or print ad. Benefits also make attention-getting headlines. And if you can claim a desirable benefit that none of your competitors can, you should shout it from the treetops. That’s what’s known as a “unique competitive advantage” and it’s the holy grail of marketing.