What do you and I look for when we make a purchase or carry out some activity?
What do you and I offer to people when we would like them to purchase something from us or take part in some activity?
We are continually advised, and advised well, not to focus on the ‘features’ of our products, services or activities but on the ‘benefits’ they provide.
The benefits we might get from going on a particular diet, the benefits we might get from purchasing a new vacuum cleaner, the benefits we might get from taking part in a coaching programme – and so on.
Not too long ago it would have been all about the ‘features’.
The components of the diet, what it included, or didn’t; the ‘bells and whistles’ on the new ‘bright shiny object’ we were considering purchasing; the content and delivery of the coaching programme.
And then there would be detailed descriptions of how and why all these great features worked.
As the focus changed, I think most people in the marketing world would admit that it wasn’t too much effort to change the copy to highlight benefits instead.
Start by finding ‘features’ and replacing them with ‘benefits’ – a bit of reorientation and there you have it, brand new marketing material all about ‘benefits’.
But still, as I’ve mentioned before – looking from the inside out.
All about what the providers of the products and services think the benefits are, and still quite a lot of ‘feature thinking’ – “we must explain whet benefit each feature provides – because we love our features, we’ve put so much work into them that we want potential purchasers to see how wonderful they are and what great benefits our features will provide”.
That’s not really about benefits is it? It’s still feature oriented.
Just watch a few TV ads and you’ll see how this happens.
There’s one about vacuum cleaners at the moment which goes to great lengths to talk about the benefits but only really describes the features.
Sure, it’s better to attempt to explain the benefits that a purchaser, in our opinion, might get from whatever it is we offer, but if we continue to work from where we see it as providers it’s not going to make a lot of difference.
Now, let my interrupt myself for a moment.
This isn’t just about business.
We understand business transactions, but everything else we do in life is a transaction (or an interaction) as well.
How we relate to other people.
How we relate to ourselves.
What we choose to do, alone or together.
So what exactly are we looking for?
What exactly are we seeking to achieve in our personal and business lives?
It’s certainly not a feature.
We might think it’s a benefit, but it isn’t.
What we are looking for, not necessarily in, but certainly after every ‘transaction’, is a Result.
Benefits are great, and ‘nice to have’ but they serve us only if they lead to the result we are seeking.
Which is why, when we are considering transacting, or interacting with someone for some reason we need to know the answer to the question “What’s in in for me”, “What result do I get”?
And, if we want this inter/trans action to be successful we also need to understand “What’s in it for them” – “What result do they get”?
Here’s the thing – those answers need to be compatible for whatever is being proposed, to ‘work’.
Consider this before starting to rewrite your proposal or marketing copy.
The person you are communicating with, whatever the situation, is looking for a result. It may be specific, maybe not, but nevertheless what they seek is a result.
A result – achievement of a goal, is created by a solution.
The solution takes them (and you) from where they are now – ‘without’ the result – to where they desire to be.
The solution is the process followed to answer the question “How do I get the result I am looking for”? – “How do I achieve my goal”?
Starting with that ‘how’ question, the answer is that you deploy a solution to achieve the result or goal you are looking for.
Some companies and marketers have got as far as bandying about the word ‘solution’ as what they provide but that is often seen as meaningless business jargon – a bit like the word ‘mission’.
You see, as purchasers in any transaction or interaction you and I really don’t care in the slightest about the features, benefits, answers or solutions.
We just don’t care about the what or the how of getting to our objective – ALL we are interested in is the RESULT.
At least, that’s what we should be focused on, but the marketing industry has done such a good job over the years that we’ve begun to forget our real targets and objectives, the results we seek, and been seduced by the ‘bright shiny objects’ instead.
Right now, because we do it all the time, you and I are on one side of a transaction or interaction or the other, maybe several so we should take a breath and think –
“What are the results I desire out of this, and what are the results ‘they’ are seeking”?
If these are compatible then the transaction or interaction will be successful, if not, talk to someone else!