If you’ve ever been shopping for higher-end technology, you’ll resonate with the marketing ideas I’m going to share with you today, because part of shopping for technology involves reading about features, and today we’re going to learn why marketing with features isn’t enough to capture your customers.
To begin to understand what I’m talking about, just read (or try to read) this list of features posted on Amazon for a Nikon digital camera:
- 14.1-megapixel CCD sensor for superb image quality
- 21x Wide-Angle Optical Zoom-NIKKOR Glass Lens
- 5-way VR Image Stabilization System
- EXPEED C2 for enhanced image quality and processing speed
- 3-inch Ultra-High Resolution (921,000-dot) Clear Color Display
Now, if you’re NOT a photographer versed in digital photography, the features listed above aren’t going to tell you much. But if you’re a savvy shopper, you would be asking, “Well, just what IS a 5-Way VR Image Stabilization System, and how can it help me?” In other words, reading a list of features can only take you so far. What you really want to know are the benefits. Now, sure, a few of the items above state that with the given feature, “image quality” will improve, but none of them says exactly how or why.
That’s exactly the problem with marketing with features instead of benefits.
Marketing with features not only fails to provide the information your audience really needs to make an informed choice, it is also boring and even off-putting.2>
A quick glance at those numbers and acronyms in the camera features above will make more than a few people shy away from even reading. Do you ever get excited about reading the owner’s manual for anything? I doubt it.
Marketing with features is like making your audience read an owner’s manual, because when you only market with features, you’re making your audience do all the work to figure out how your product or service will benefit them. When your prospects have to work at making a buying decision, your conversions will be dismal.
You can avoid this problem altogether, and market with benefits instead. When you market with benefits instead of features, you answer your customers’ biggest question, “What’s in it for me?” And you can easily answer that question in several ways, by saying how your product or service:
- Saves money
- Makes more money
- Saves time
- Reduces effort
- Makes things faster
- Eliminates fear
- Increases business
- Is more convenient
- Reduces stress
- Increases confidence
- Creates more opportunities
- Makes them feel smarter
- Provides expert positioning
- Provides more freedom
- Eliminates frustration or struggle
Now, I’m NOT saying that you should stop caring about features. You have to know and be able to state the features of your product or service before you can know and be able to state the benefits. What I AM saying is that as you strategize your marketing and write your sales copy, you have to be able to state benefits in terms that beguile your customers with all the problems your product or service is going to solve.
Benefits are the bait on your hook, so you have to show benefits and you have to show results.
At Bourn Creative, when working on our clients’ sites, we focus on benefits and results. Here are two examples for a basic marketing plan service:
- Feature: A crystal clear plan outlining what to do to market your business.
- Benefit: You know exactly what to do, and when, to market your business.
- Result: No more frustration or struggling to figure out what you should be doing to market your business effectively. No more trying a different marketing method each week, crossing your fingers and hoping one works.
- Feature: Step-by-step instructions showing you what actions to take.
- Benefit: Take the guess-work out of your marketing and know exactly what to do and how to do it with easy-to-follow instructions.
- Result: No more feeling dumb because you aren’t sure how to implement your marketing strategies. Clear, easy-to-follow instructions save you time, accelerate your marketing results, and make you look better and smarter than your competitors.
As you can see, first I list the basic feature. Then I list the assumed, perceived, or obvious benefit. And finally, I list the result(s) the feature and benefit create. This process gets right to the What’s In It For Me factor.
When I write my marketing copy, I’ll use the lists I just created, but work backwards. I’ll start with the results as the main selling points and then support those results statements with the benefits and the features.
But there’s one more thing you need to consider before you start writing benefits:
Usually the benefit you associate with the feature is the assumed or perceived benefit. It’s usually what you think they will think is the benefit. But, as with all of your marketing, you must think of your customers first.
- Make sure you really know your audience inside and out.
- Stop thinking like you and start thinking like them. Put yourself in their shoes and get into their minds.
- Write your marketing content based on the emotions they feel when they achieve the results and experience the benefits of working with you or using your product.
When you can market a business with emotions-based benefits and results as a priority, you will present to your prospects, not an empty hook that they have to figure out, but a big, juicy piece of bait of benefits that they’ll be more than happy to bite.