Monday, March 14, 2011

Features & Benefits:

What Are You REALLY Offering to Your Customers?
As the economy (hopefully) continues on its tortuous path to recovery, its progress will be paralleled by an increase in competition. Product/service differentiation is key to holding your own in the marketplace, so it’s time to get crystal clear on what your business really offers.
A useful way to do that is the Features/Benefits Filter. Buying decisions are based far more often on benefits, which are perceived emotionally, than features, which are perceived rationally. Example: I am buying some shoes. Their features: made of brown suede, 3” heels, non-slip soles and they lace up. Benefits: really stylish oxfords that make me feel competent AND attractive. The features (and price) are important, but what’s really selling me are the benefits. Without them, the features don’t move me and I probably won’t buy.
This exercise can be applied to services as well. Example: I need a will, and therefore a lawyer. Features: really up on current estate law, and has a convenient location and a reasonable hourly fee. Benefits: peace of mind knowing that my affairs will be handled per my wishes, and I will not be leaving a big mess for my family. The benefits of doing my will are far more engaging than the mechanics of the process, so I will actually do it.
To sum up:  Features describe the product. Benefits describe what’s in it for the customer. For your marketing to be customer-centric, and therefore effective, benefits need the emphasis. Try applying the filter to your own offering from your customers’ viewpoint – looking at it through their eyes will tell you a lot about how to adjust your marketing and better position your business.
A laundry list of product or service features is a big ho-hum; clarity about the benefits you offer will strike an immediate note. Lead with those and you will reap major benefits for your business.

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