I have no clue where the idea originated, but somewhere along the way I picked up the notion that to effectively sell a product or service, you should gush about the features of that product or service. Apparently, I’m not alone in my flawed thinking. Inc. points out that most marketing messages focus on features and leave customers to figure out the benefits for themselves.

But according to Inc., “Customers never buy because of product features. They buy because they perceive some “benefit” to those features.”

Follow Inc’s six guidelines to create product benefits that get customers to buy:

1. Understand the difference between a benefit and a feature.

A feature is what the product or service “is” or “does.” A benefit is what the product or service “means” to the customer.

  • Instead of “This car has a reinforced safety roof” you’d want to say this:  “This car keeps your family safe.”

2. Use evocative language that’s easy to understand.

Customers will remember a product benefit longer, and with more ease, if it’s expressed with simple, powerful words that evoke emotion. For example:

  • You’d want to say  “If this car rolls, there’s a good chance you’ll walk away unharmed”, instead of “This roof provides protection in the event of a rollover accident.”

3. Avoid jargon.

Business cliches and technical terminology will drain the emotion from your product benefit.

  • Go with “You can connect virtually anywhere” instead of “Robust implementation of 80210 protocols!!!”

4. Keep the list of product benefits brief.

Long lists of benefits will cause confusion because most people only hold two or three thoughts at one time in their short-term memory.

  • Try “The two most important things to remember are…” not “Here are the top 10 benefits of using our product:”

5. Make sure you emphasize what makes you or your business unique.

While generic product benefits can convince a customer to buy, it may not necessarily be from you! Differentiate you or your company from the competition by using unique benefits.

Instead of “Our software makes you more productive” try “Our customers report an average 30% decrease in costs, about twice the industry average.”

6. Make your benefits concrete.

Customers will ignore abstract or vague benefits, where as definitive and specific benefits will be more convincing and “stick in the mind.”

  • Use “We decrease inventory costs by an average of 25%” not “We can radically reduce your inventory costs.”

Conclusion

“You’ll get more customers, more quickly,” says Inc. “if you communicate the benefits of using your product rather than the features it possesses.”

 

About Author

Sherene Funk

Sherene Funk is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime (but that doesn't stop her from collecting more). A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has published several humorous non-fiction articles and worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current position as a writer on modern retailing at Rain Retail Software.

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