Thursday, May 15, 2008

Selling Benefits, not Features

Here's another bit of wisdom from Small Fuel from last month:

Sell Benefits, Deliver the Goods, and Get Happy Repeat Customers

Posted: 08 Apr 2008 03:57 PM CDT

benefits of paperclips
Knowing the benefits of your products or services and using them in your marketing campaigns is crucial to getting a good response. People buy what they want, not what they need. You need to convey to people that you can fulfill those desires if they buy your product or use your service.

But if your business makes promises that it doesn’t keep, you can guarantee that you’ll leave the customer feeling cheated and disappointed. Disappointed customers don’t buy twice or refer their friends.

It’s important to know the benefits you offer. It’s crucial to back up those benefits, too.

Exaggerating your product benefits is a marketing faux pas that many businesses make. Have you ever bought a “miracle” face cream that promised to make you look younger? Did it? Did you buy it again?

Or maybe you bought a hyped-up fabric softener that left you with plain old clothes—nothing soft and fluffy as promised. Did you choose that product again?

And how many of you have gone to restaurants that promise fast service… but sat there waiting for their meals?

People want benefits, and benefits is what you have to sell. But if you can’t back up the claims you make, all you’re doing is hurting your reputation with false advertising. Your clients are disenchanted, they don’t believe in you any more, and you just lost customers.

Know What You Really Sell

You’re selling more than your product or your service. You’re giving people great looks, more comfort or playful freedom. You’re providing good impressions, the envy of friends or better performance. You’re offering better organization or an easier way of living or a faster method of accomplishing a task.

You’re selling people a means to an end, a way to reach their goals or make something easier. What you sell isn’t important—it’s just a tool to help people get the benefits they really want.

So what are the benefits of your product or service?

The Benefits

Benefits are what your product or service achieves for people after they purchase. They are the improvements, the changes, the noticeable differences in a person’s life that occur from purchasing your product or service.

Let’s consider a simple box of Acco paper clips. Believe it or not, those little clips worth a buck or two can change your life. They can make your business better. They can set you on the path to success.

Well, alright, maybe that’s a little over the top, but the point is that if you buy a box of Acco clips, your life will be better, somehow. Acco clips are beneficial to you. They can:

  • Help you find what you need faster to save time
  • Keep your computer data save without magnetic erasure risk
  • Plastic clips don’t rust, so your papers stay clean
  • Lower your mailing costs
  • Fit your needs for sizing perfectly

Are you more interested now? Do Acco plastic clips sound like something that could help you? Would they improve your life?

Before people had Acco clips, they had messy, disorganized papers full of rust marks and higher mailing costs. After Acco clips, people achieved an organized life, fast and accurate filing and more money in their pockets.

But having good benefits is only the first step.

Deliver Your Benefits

Once you know the benefits of what you sell, the reasons that people are actually buying, it’s time to make sure you deliver them with your product or service. Are your potential customers looking for compliments or fame? Do they want to save money or gain more free time? Increased productivity? Cleaner houses? More customers? The real question is: how will you give them what they want?

Look at every benefit that your product offers. For every one, write down how you will make sure your product delivers that benefit. Write down how your product will change a person’s life or makes their day better.

Sell each of those benefits in your marketing, make sure people know what you offer. And then make sure your customers get each one of them. Don’t hype up what isn’t real, and make sure that your products or services can really do what you promise.

Once you master all of this, you’re guaranteed to have a lot of happy customers. Happy customers come back again and again.

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