How To Sell The Benefits
Of Your Product or Service
by Tom Egelhoff
All products and services have obvious benefits to your customers. A power lawn mower is going to make grass cutting easier. But there are often hidden benefits in products that are not so obvious to you or your customers. It's finding and pointing out these hidden benefits that make your product or service more valuable in the minds of your customers. In addition hidden benefits can often set you apart from your competitor.
This article will address the process of finding and developing those hidden benefits.
The 1" Drill Bit
I had to stop by the hardware store the other day and pick up a 1" drill bit. Did I need a drill bit to display over the fireplace? Did I want to put it in a case to display to friends? No. In fact I didn't buy a drill bit at all. What I did buy was the benefit of the drill bit...a 1" hole. The drill bit will live in my tool box, never seeing the light of day again, until I need another 1" hole.
The point I'm making is that I could care less about the features of the drill bit. I'm not going to show it off. The color, for example, is totally unimportant. It might be important for a car or clothing but not for a drill bit.
Product Or Service Features vs. Benefits
As I point out time and time again on this site, people buy based on emotion not logic. When logic and emotion come into conflict, emotion always wins. I could have made my 1" hole with a screwdriver or wood chisel. The drill bit was more "comfortable." It was worth more to me to get in the car, drive to the hardware store, buy the bit and do the job.
If you believe your customers are going to sit down - compare the merits of your product against your competitor in a fair and logical manner- you are living in a dream world. It just doesn't happen like that in real life. People make emotional decisions and then create a logical argument to justify the decision.
What's The Difference Between A Feature And A Benefit?
A "Feature" is what a product has. 4 doors, new improved formula, etc. A "Benefit" is what a product does. "This car has four doors to accommodate growing families." "Our new improved formula makes skin softer and smoother."
How do you tell the difference. When you hear a product claim, ask the question, "So what does that mean to me?" If there is no answer to that question, you just heard a feature. If there is an answer you just heard a benefit.
How To Develop A Product Or Service Benefit
You already know some products are going to have obvious benefits. It's those hidden benefits that must be found. Here's how I do it.
The first rule of successful business: All claims of benefits must be 100% absolutely true. You must be prepared to prove any statements you make to customers. If you are untruthful about your products or services, you won't survive long in a small town. The truth about you will travel fast.
To begin the process you must know your product or service inside and out. You must know each product's features before you can create a benefit for them.
There Are Six Steps In Developing Product Or Service Benefits.
Step One: Start by pretending this is a brand new product or service. Your potential customer has never seen it before. Take each feature and evaluate the potential of a customer seeing the value (benefit) of that feature without it being pointed out. List the obvious benefits first then start looking for others. Arm & Hammer Baking Soda started as baking soda, then cleaner, then tooth paste substitute, then odor freshener. A lot of hidden benefits.
Step Two: Investigate. Ask customers about the product or service. How would they use it? How would they change it? What are the benefits to them? Would the add anything to it? The answers may surprise you. Research what customers tell you. Are their applications valid? Have their comments inspired other hidden benefits? Additions to the product or service?
Step Three: Does the product deliver true value to the customer. The more benefits the product has the less important price becomes. The more value a product can demonstrate to your customer, the higher price it can command. Can you show the customer this value in your advertising, brochures and demonstrations?
Step Four: If this truly is a new product, can you make a prototype to test on some of your customers? Even better, can you make several different versions and test different feature and benefits with different customers. Ask them to evaluate and suggest improvements.
Step Five: Cutting corners. When companies develop new products, they often start with a very expensive first version. Then the give the product to people, whose job it is, to cut the cost of the product and make it feasible to produce. So they reduce the thickness of material, replace metal with plastic and use cheaper materials. Sometimes a product can't pass the test. It is better to scrap the product completely than to introduce an inferior to your customers. The value to the customer must be there or the project must be abandoned.
Step Six: Adjust your advertising and promotion to reflect the new benefits you have discovered. Sure, your competition will probably follow your lead, however it's always better to be the company introducing the benefits than the copycat.
The Last Word On Developing Benefits
We have never before lived in a time of more changes and advancements than we do today. Products and services evolve at an unprecedented rate. Your company is going through a constant evolution of products and procedures.
Companies that can be innovative with their products and services are going to be the big winners in the years to come. Will you be there with me?
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Based in Bozeman, MT, Tom Egelhoff is the author of How To Market, Advertise & Promote Your Business Or Service In A Small Town, and The Small Town Advertising Handbook: How To Say More And Spend Less. He is also a seminar and workshop presenter and trainer. He may be reached at 888-550-6100 or PO Box 271, Bozeman, MT 59771-0271
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