The owner of a small printing company had been in business for many years. He recently called me asking for help creating a marketing plan. During the conversation, I asked what prompted his request, and he related that a fairly large prospect had recently visited, but that, try as he might, at the conclusion of the visitor meeting, he knew he had not convinced that prospect to do business with him. The Owner was frustrated and we scheduled a meeting to talk further.
As I approached his storefront, I noticed a large banner declaring, “Ask about our new large format capability!” During our meeting, the owner showed me the beautifully crafted capabilities brochure that he had shown his visitor and wondered what about it was lacking. After all, he had great service, great people, integrity, and even a brand new large format printer capable of printing up to 44” wide and virtually any length!
It’s tempting for business owners who are passionate about what they do to want to tell the world about what they do. But that’s exactly the issue; prospects don’t necessarily care what a supplier does (e.g. prints on a large format printer), nor do they necessarily care about the features of a product (44” x any length). A prospect cares about what’s in it for him. Capabilities and features might be interesting to some, and, in fact, do have a place in a marketing message, but the customer cares most about how he will benefit. I have found that the easiest way to translate capabilities or features into benefits is to ask yourself: “What about this capability is important to my customer or prospect? Or, why would my prospect care about this feature? What does the customer actually receive or experience because of this?”
In the printer’s case, I asked him why a customer would care about new large format printer capability. If he put himself in the customer’s shoes (or asked his clients directly – but more on that in another article) and asked what is the real benefit here, what would be the answer? What is the customer actually buying? Phrased that way, the obvious revealed itself – when they look for large signage or banners, his customers are buying the ability for prospects to see the sign or banner from a great distance! Customers who are interested in B-I-G signage and banners want to make a B-I-G statement to people who would not otherwise be able to see it. They rarely care how it was printed or what the exact dimensions are, but they do want something visible from far away. Once you know the real benefit, you must convey it very clearly and overtly. Interestingly, the printer took this observation to heart, as, the next time I was in the area (across the parking lot), the banner outside his store read, “People buy with their eyes! Increase your traffic with eye-popping banners that can be seen a mile away!”
[This article was written by Sharon Joseph of Spectrum Consulting Services, Inc. Since 1996, Sharon has helped small and medium-sized businesses grow. Identifying your benefits is one important piece of creating a marketing message. If you have comments, questions, or would like to set up a no-obligation meeting to discuss your business or marketing plan, please contact her firstname.lastname@example.org.]