Obtaining new customers is the lifeblood of any business, especially start-ups and small businesses. You have an awesome product or service. You send emails, run ads and post to social media letting your target market know what it is you're offering and why it's the best. With all that awesomeness, they're sure to buy what you're selling.
So why isn't it working?
It's not working because nobody cares what you're selling. They don't care how it works. They don't care about all the cool features. (Okay, maybe a few do.) So what do people care about?
Customers care about how your product or service solves a problem or fulfills a need they have. They care about the benefits you deliver, the pain points you alleviate and the lifestyle you enable them to live. Apple is the master of this type of marketing. Think about it, Apple never really sells you product features, they sell you what those features do for you and how they make you feel.
Successful businesses sell benefits, not features.
The problem is, many businesses confuse features with benefits. Here are some tips to flip the switch and gain new customers with benefits-based marketing:
Get to know your target market in depth. I'm not talking general demographics. Dig deeper. Really take time to get to know who you are selling to. Put yourself in their shoes and try to think from their perspective. Ask yourself:
What are my target market's core values? Why do they hold these values?
What is important to them? Why?
What do they want or need? Why do they want or need these things?
What is preventing them from getting what they want or need?
Once you've got a clear picture of your target customer, you can more effectively market your products or services to them.
It's not what you give, it's what they get. You want to connect with your target market on an emotional level. Let them know how your product or service aligns with their values and needs, solves the problems they have and allows them to live the life they want. In other words, what they are getting out of buying your product or service - AKA the benefits.
Trying to decipher the difference between features and benefits is not always easy. I like to use the following formula when working with clients. Most struggle with this at first, so don't get discouraged. Once you get the hang of it, the a-ha! moment will come and the results will start rolling in.
From Features to Benefits Formula:
WHAT: I offer <product or service>.
FEATURES: It does <how it works, what it does - these are your features>.
BENEFITS: So that my customers can <what your customer gets out of it/what they will experience or feel as a result of using your product or service>.
WHAT: I sell financial reporting software.
FEATURES: It aggregates all of your business' financial information into one database and enables you to run reports at the click of a button.
BENEFITS: So my customers can access information immediately and see their full financial picture in one place, enabling them to easily identify areas for improvement, make adjustments and increase profitability.
Do you see the difference? Features talk about what your product or service does. Benefits show your customer what they get from using your product or service.
Before you run your next ad, send your next email or update your website take a second look and ask, "Am I selling features or benefits?" If you're still focused on features, use the tips in this post to shift to benefits. Then sit back and watch your results soar!
We all need a little help sometimes, especially when it comes to figuring out the whole features vs. benefits thing. When you're too close to something it can be difficult to look at it objectively or through the eyes of a potential client. Heck, I teach people how to do this every day and I still work with a writer and coaches to help me better decipher and articulate my benefits. Contact me for a complimentary consultation to learn how to turn your features into benefits, get more customers and increase profits.
Shannon Daniels is an author and public speaking, communication and mindset coach. She teaches strategic communication at Columbia University. Shannon works with small and mid-size businesses to unearth their unique differentiators, set them apart from the competition and create messaging that enables them to attract more customers and experience greater success and profitability.