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Creating Adverts That Sell: Features & Benefits

Published:
19/10/2017
Author:
Steve Indersmith

Without a BENEFIT, you are just noise.

In previous newsletters, we’ve discussed the various components needed to create adverts that sell. Today, we focus on the understanding of product features and benefits. Failure to get this right will mean a huge part of your customer base will be oblivious to your advertising campaign.

What is McDonald’s selling?
When training new sales staff, I often ask the question, “What is McDonald’s selling?” If you, like many of my trainees, answer “burgers”, you may be costing yourself a lot of business.

It is true that when I go to McDonald’s I buy a burger – but why did I go to Macca’s in the first place? The answer is important and can help you understand how to make a lot more money.

Prior to having kids, I never ate at McDonald’s - now it’s a regular. When my kids were between two and seven years of age we would drop in NOT for the burgers or the coffee but for 15 minutes of peace and quiet. The kids would run amuck in the play centre and my wife and I would get to relax and talk over a flat white. We were actually buying quiet time. Today, my boys can eat a cow so when we go to Macca’s we are saving money.

The example above is mixed with Features and Benefits. The feature is the burger or coffee, and the benefit is the quiet time or saving to be had. Too often we are guilty of selling the feature when our audience only cares about the benefits to them. I could have bought a burger from a dozen places but only one gave me quiet time!

Note that the benefit can change over time and may be different across demographics, like my relationship with McDonald’s.

Remember this with your marketing and advertising. It’s all about me, me and me. Know what me wants and I’m yours. When it becomes about you, you’ve lost me.

Here’s another great example - this time from Apple when marketing their iPod. Ask yourself which one gets me? Which one is more likely to have me purchase?

Market the FEATURE: Storage for 1GB of MP3S

Market the BENEFIT: 1,000 songs in your pocket

“Wow, 1,000 of my favourite songs that I can have with me at all times” versus “What's a GB anyway?”

Benefits typically call upon an emotional response - they show the result of what your product or service can do for the consumer. Benefits typically fall into the categories of dollars, time, risk, emotional need or physical need.

Features are more tangible, they describe the product, it’s performance what it can do. The feature is the burger and the benefit is the dollar saving. The feature is the 1GB storage and the benefit is the music I can listen to whenever I want.

When crafting your advert, brochure or marketing material, think first about the benefit or what problem does your service or product overcome for the buyer. Then speak about the feature - how it achieves this.

Features & benefits getting it RIGHT
1. Know your target audiences and understand what benefit each audience seeks
2. Only after you have solved my NEEDS do the features become important
3. If you have NOT sold the benefits, the features are just noise. Blah, blah, blah
4. Sell the benefits AND use the features to justify and support your claims
5. Features can and should be used to differentiate you from your competitors, to close the sale

Finally, here’s a tip that may help you get it straight in your head.

It comes from the late advertising guru Claude C Hopkins author of Scientific Advertising and My Life In Advertising

There is one straightforward way to answer many advertising questions. Ask yourself, "Would it help a salesperson sell the goods?" "Would it help me sell them if I met a buyer in person?"

Would it make sense to talk about the solar panels, photovoltaic effect and solar cell efficiency before you engaged the customer on the cost savings to be had on using green energy? Remember - without the benefits, it’s just blah, blah, blah.

Next month: more on adverts that sell

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