When you started your business
Sometime in your life, you made the big decision to start your own business. It was probably based on the idea that this was something you knew how to do and you could do really well.
So you got some business cards and set up shop.
And then came that moment where you realized you needed to start marketing your business. You pulled out a piece of paper, wrote out 2-3 really cool things about why your stuff is great and said, “Yep, there ya go. Marketing message.”
You told all your friends, set up a Facebook page, did a couple posts or if you had some money in your marketing budget, maybe even ran a radio campaign with your favorite local station.
Marketing campaign, done. Checked that one off your list, right?
That’s not the way this works
Having spent way too many years working with small businesses on their marketing plans, I would bet you one month’s revenue that your marketing plan didn’t work.
And I’m going to make a guess about why your plan didn’t work. I bet you just spent an awful lot of your budget and time on a campaign about your product’s features and not its benefits.
Don’t be upset about wasting the time or money – we’ve all done it. It’s called the expensive lessons gained from ‘shoot first then aim.’
But today is a new day and we’re moving forward with your new look on marketing.
Let me show you how to turn that marketing plan around so that you start seeing an increase in your engagement on your social sites. It’s a simple process to show you how to focus on your service or product’s benefits not just the basic “Hey look how cool my stuff is” features.
Once you start doing this, your future marketing efforts will start to bring you more customers and increase your site traffic.
The secret to get people to buy your stuff
Despite the all that cool detailed information you’ve added to your website, people are not signing up for your offers, not engaging with your social media programs and maybe just a few are actually walking into the door of your store or sending you emails.
Does this sound familiar?
I’m going to share with you one of the biggest marketing secrets to make more sales: When you focus on the features of your services or products, your marketing efforts won’t work.
It’s really just that simple.
Most business owners assume your customers will understand why they should buy your stuff just because they’ve been told about what you’re selling. I mean, why else would they hit the Like button on your fan page? Of course, they want to buy from you, right?
All you’re doing is telling them about what your stuff does. You’re not telling them how your stuff can help them – help them save time, help them save money or help them feel less overwhelmed (or frustrated or confused or fill in the blank).
You’re just telling them about your features and not how you’re giving them a solution to solve their problems.
The difference between a Feature and a Benefit
To put it simply, a feature is a statement about your service or product. If you were to complete the About Our Products/Services in your website, what would you put in the descriptive section?
If you sell a product, you would describe its size, color and something unique about the product like the fact it’s energy efficient.
For a service, you’d use phrases like ‘20 year veteran in the marketing industry,’ ‘manage email campaigns for a Fortune 500 company’ or ‘family-owned business since 1970.’
Unless you’ve skewed the facts to make your company look better, all of these things could be proven as factual statements about your business’ products and services.
Most business owners confuse this list of your company’s facts with benefits. To find out your company’s benefits, you’ll need to answer this question, “What’s in it for my customers?” How does this benefit help your customers resolve their issues or concerns?
Let’s look at these examples:
People don’t hire a consultant because of the knowledge this person has about the problems in their business (feature) – they hire that person because it saves them the time to research the information, try out the programs or test what works and what doesn’t.
The consultant has been there and can save the business owner their valuable time to work on their business (benefit).
People don’t buy a custom pool package that includes a screened-in porch (feature) – they buy an outdoor entertainment area to increase their family fun time and keep the bugs out (benefit).
People don’t buy a car with special anti-lock brakes that stops itself (feature) – they buy a car with the technology that can brake for you, stabilize your car or warn you if you are getting tired (benefit).
How to feature your benefits
Take some time to work through these questions to figure out your company’s benefits.
Your answers will help you gain a better understanding of your company’s products and services so you can answer your customer’s question, “What’s in it for me?”
1. Name five (5) or more features: Factual statement about your products and services
2. Name five (5) or more benefits: Answers the question, what’s in it for my customer?
3. Think about your ideal customer – the one who comes into your store, who you talk to on the phone, emails you or engages with you in your social sites
- What are the key issues, problems or concerns keeping them awake at night?
- What words or phrases do they use when they describe their problems?
- How can your product or service solve this problem for them?
- What type of support or solution are they looking for when they contact your business?
Now pull all your answers together to finish the following sentence:
My <product or service> will help my customers solve <problem> because it does <solution>.
And hello … there’s your marketing message!
People don’t want to buy your product or services. They want to buy solutions for their problems. They want to know how your benefits can provide them with a specific outcome to make their lives easier.
Think about a way to tell your company’s story through your features and benefits. Keep asking yourself the question, “What’s in it for my customers?” until you find the answers where you connect with your customers on an emotional level.
Only then can your products and services turn from just something they need into something they want. And most likely, they’ll pay whatever it takes to get this thing they want because you’ve shown them that it’s the solution to their problems.
Photo credit: The Secret