Is your writing really selling your benefits?

18th July 2009 | Posted in Web content

One of the most useful phrases I ever had directed at me when I was a graduate trainee in sales and marketing was “So what?”  Sounds a bit offensive, but actually it was great training for roles in both marketing (which I wanted to do) and sales (which the company wanted me to do).

We were asked to present specific products to pseudo-customers. We read the brochures and we read the data sheets, and we prepared for action.

“This computer has xMB of RAM and operates at yGHz” we said.

“So what?” said the pseudo-customer. “That’s a feature of the product but what does it mean to me?””

“Well, it means it runs programs faster than your old computer,” we said.

“So what?” said the pseudo-customer. “That’s an advantage of your product but what does that mean to me?”

“Well, it means you can get your work done faster,” we said.

“You’re getting there,” said the pseudo-customer. “And does that benefit me in any other way?”

“Well, you could spend more time doing other business-critical tasks, such as planning, marketing or chasing payments. That might relieve you of the need to sub-contract some work, for example. If your work time is more efficient you can use the spare capacity to build sales and cut costs.”

“Now you’re talking,” said the pseudo-customer (although he thought we might have gone a bit over the top at the end and we were in danger of losing him again).

Today’s moral: don’t leave your potential customers to work out the benefits of buying your products for themselves. Ensure that what you think is a benefit really is – not just a feature or even an advantage.

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