Product Features? Advantages?
Benefits = Value!
Many years ago, I interviewed for a sales job. The sales manager leaned across the desk and said “So, you think you’re a good salesperson? Sell me this pen!” This was a very long time ago. I was young and totally unprepared. I sat in silence. Stunned.
My mind raced with possible one-liners or ways to talk about a pen that seemed, at the time – and still to this day — ludicrous. Unsure how to proceed, I refused to commit to a path I was not comfortable with.
It turns out I did get a job offer that day – but not because I sold a pen. In my frozen state I meekly asked, “What are you going to use this pen for?”
Pens, really? Let’s talk about that!
Writing instruments have been around for thousands of years. The word pen, in its Latin form penna, means feather. Quills were used for applying ink to parchment as far back as the 7th century. Today, pens offer a variety of ink delivery systems, are made of countless materials and in styles that put prices in a range from pennies to tens of thousands of dollars each. No lie — you can Google it.
So outside of the need to write on something, what influences someone to spend money on a pen? What factors are in play when looking at the vast array of writing instrument offerings? In a few words: Features, Advantages, and Benefits.
Think about your own business and the products and services you offer as we consider the following.
Features — distinctive parts, important elements of your offering.
For a pen this might include the materials it’s made of (gold or plastic — affecting the price) and the styling: a clip to secure the pen to your shirt or in your purse.
Advantages – a superior position, why it’s better.
Sometimes a lighter, or heavier, pen can be an advantage. Ink that dries fast or one that writes upside down can be an advantage – especially, but not exclusively, if you’re an astronaut.
Benefits – Describe the feature in terms of what it will do for the end-user.
This answers the question, What’s in it for me? (WIIFM).
If I lose my pen all the time, low cost may be a benefit. If pens leak in my pocket, I may benefit from one with a cap. If I write on a dry erase board all day, a permanent marker is not a benefit to me.
Don’t Make Me Think!
It’s 2016. Stop making your customers and prospects do all the work. Benefits are personal. They help prospects see what’s in it for them and how it will make their lives easier. As a customer, benefits describe the future state I will be in because I have chosen to do business with you and your product.
Some buyers don’t care about anything but the benefits for them. Business owners and marketers need to consistently enunciate the benefits of what we offer in all of our communications. Technical buyers, on the other hand, may be concerned with features and advantages — a good reason to carefully segment your database.
When the benefits outweigh the cost of what you provide, it becomes easier for me, as a consumer, to justify my purchase. There is an end-state I wish to attain. I value it because of the increase in something that I didn’t have before I purchased it.
So what are the marketing lessons here?
- Know your audience and what’s important to them. (Find your intended audience)
- Segment your database/audience.
- Know your product really, really well. What makes you different?
- Know your industry. Become a Subject Matter Expert.
- Educate your audience.
- Align your messaging to your audience and use language that resonates with them.
- Make it easy for them.
- Show them you care.
As marketers, we can produce more leads for less money when we think strategically, coordinate our efforts, educate prospects and communicate the right messages to them throughout their journey to becoming customers.
Focusing on the benefits your products and services provide puts you in the mindset of your buyers. When you understand what customers want, it’s easier to start developing a content marketing strategy.
In 1974, Sy Syms said: “An educated consumer is our best customer” and it’s even more appropriate today.
What are you doing to educate your customers? How do you communicate the benefits of what you offer to prospects? Let us know in the Comments section below. A real person reads and responds to all comments!
At Crest, we help companies:
- Create content that separates them from their competition
- Become subject matter experts in their field
- Measure the effectiveness of their marketing $$
- Generate a consistent pipeline of high-quality leads for less
- Turn clients into evangelists