Everyone knows benefits sell. And everyone seems to sell benefits. But not all benefits sell. So what’s a seller to do?
Uncover the benefits that carry the most relevance with your customers.
When discussing product benefits, most companies ask only one question: What makes this product different and better than similar products?
This question is important. But it focuses on the product, not on the customer. It places undeserved emphasis on the product’s uniqueness. That’s is dicey because different isn’t always better, and better products don’t always sell that way. Different is just different, and better is relative depending on which persona you sell to.
Uncovering Relevant Benefits
Start by considering the product’s attributes:
- Features. What does the product offer? For example, “This application handles multiple users concurrently.”
- Advantages. What do the features do? “This application provides essential information in real time.”
- Benefits. What do the features mean? “This information will allow your managers to keep their fingers on the company’s financial pulse at all times.”
- Motives. What do the features satisfy? “This feature will provide cost-savings, control, and efficiency.”
Then follow these steps:
- List everything the product does. Include standard, technical, supportive, and abstract features.
- For each feature, list a relative advantage.
- List each advantage’s benefits from the customer perspective.
- List the motives: the benefits, features, and advantages that satisfy the customer.
Case Study: The Beer Machine
We recently went through these steps with a new client, The Beer Machine. (We’ll relaunch its Web site with new relevant selling benefits by the fall.)
The Beer Machine unit is a product that’s simple and unique by nature. As a result, our feature list was very short. Here’s what we arrived at after observing and discussing product attributes:
- Feature: The unit is a plastic, keg-shaped tube that lets customers brew beer.
- Advantage: Customers can brew beer inexpensively at home.
- Benefit: Customers don’t have to build a microbrewery to brew their own beer. They save money, compared to buying premium beer.
This is where most would take the above list and try to push this product on unsuspecting customers. Or worse, tout meaningless features and wedge irrelevant benefits into the product offering.
Here’s where the fourth, and arguably most important, step comes in.
At first blush, there were no relevant motives based on the features and advantages we identified. Saving money just didn’t seem a magnetic enough motive to move customers to spend upwards of a hundred bucks on this product.
We needed to discover the benefits that existed outside the product’s physical ability and features. To do this, we had to unearth all possible and reasonable answers to the question: What benefits of this product motivate customers to buy it?
You can do this by asking existing customers, at the end of the purchase, a simple, open-ended question like, “Why did you buy today?” It’s mission-critical not to present customers with multiple-choice answers. You want uninhibited, unprovoked answers that indicate each respondent’s specific motivation or reason. Later, these can be sorted and grouped into product attributes and relevant benefits.
Another method is to scour correspondence from satisfied customers. Many offer clues to customer motivations.
With The Beer Machine, we uncovered quite a few benefits, such as the pride of brewing for yourself, taste, bragging rights, entertaining options, and the adventure of creating unique beer recipes. These are only a few of a gaggle of relevant benefits we found during our uncovery. Some things were as suspected; not one customer mentioned saving money on beer as a motivation for the purchase.
Do you know all the relevant benefits of your product or service? Find out. You may just unearth a whole new way to increase sales.
Meet Bryan at Search Engine Strategies 2004 in San Jose, CA, August 2-5.
Vote for your favorite product or campaign from July 20 through close of business August 2.
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