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If you want your marketing to be as effective as possible, it has to really mean something to your customers. And one of the best (and easiest) ways for it to mean a lot to your customers is for you to clearly communicate the benefits of your products or services to them.

I’d like you to do something for me today. I’d like you to go and find one of your ads, your brochures or sales letters. Or even reflect on the last time you were speaking face-to-face with a customer. Got something to look at? Great. Have a read through it.

Does it list a bunch of ‘features’ – i.e. 42”? 1080p high definition? 4 HDMI inputs?

Or does it really clearly list the ‘benefits’ – why I want a 42”, 1080p television with 4 HDMI inputs?

Speaking in terms of benefits rather than just listing of features, whether it’s in writing or in person, means that you’re speaking in language that your customers understand. They don’t need to understand what ’1080p’ is, as long as you tell me the benefit – why I want a TV with 1080p resolution. If you’re only telling me about the features, who knows whether or not I’ll know if that’s a good thing.

There is a very good chance that you know your own products or services better than your customers – and that means that you know why those features are important. But if you don’t show your customer in really simple and clear terms what benefits those features offer, your message may well be falling on deaf ears.

Instead, if you clearly explain why they’ll be better off or how that feature will make their lives different, you’ll be able to give the features meaning.

I’m going to share with you a simple three-step process turn all of your amazing features into benefits that sell – and if the ad or brochure you found earlier only listed the features of your product or service, what better time than now to apply this simple process?

Features -> Advantages -> Benefits

It’s that easy.

Features. So I’d imagine that you’ll find the first step the easiest of the three. Simply list all the features of your product or service – why do I want to buy this from you? And remember, list things that are important to me as your customer, not things that are important to you. And if you don’t know what makes me tick and motivates me to buy, “what an opportunity” – go and find out!
Advantages. Okay, so you’ve got a great list of features – heaps of things that I want or need, right? Now write down the Advantage of each of those features. An easy way to do this is simply write “which means…”
Benefits. Got a list of great features and a clear explanation of what that means to me? Great! Now time to list some really clear benefits. The question you ask yourself this time is “SO WHAT?”. And the more times you “SO WHAT” your features and advantages, the clearer and deeper the benefits will be.

Let’s go through an example or two to make sure you’ve got it. In fact, I’m going to choose Xero (an online accounting package) as an example, if only because it’s something that we’ve recently adopted and I think it’s awesome!

Feature – “Automatic software upgrades”
Advantage – “What that means is that you don’t have to worry about buying new software each year, or fiddling around with the installation each time there is an update”
Benefit – “So what? It’s convenient! It’ll save me time! I’ll know that I’ll always have the most up to date version with the latest features and security without even having to think about it”

Can you see the difference? For people who sell cloud-based solutions (or other IT-savvy people), ‘automatic software upgrades’ may mean a lot. But the real benefits of it may not be clear to the most important people in your world – your customers.

How about another example.
Feature – “easy access to your accounting data”.
Advantage – ‘”What that means is that, no matter where you are in the world, you’ll have access to your financial figures – instead of having to be wherever your bookkeeping software is installed”
Benefit – “So what? So you could be sitting on a beach in Hawaii, sipping on a cocktail, and still have the same access to your accounts as you would if you were sitting in front of your usual workstation. Not to mention that you can use an iPhone, iPad or any other smart-device. AND you can let your accountant have that same level of access, without ever having to see them OR see a single USB stick ever again”.

Can you see how listing the benefits start to make the ‘features’ that much more compelling? I’ll tell you what – I’d much rather imagine relaxing on a Hawaiian beach, cocktail in hand, than trying to work out how I’ll be better off with “easy access to my accounting data”… And remember, people buy with emotion and justify with logic. Which of the two creates the emotional connection – the feature, or the benefit?

So how’d you do? Did you create some no-brainer reasons why I need to buy your product or service? Let me know if the comments how you did. Or better yet, share some examples – I’d love to see your work!

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