I'm afraid I have some bad news for you. Your prospects don't care about you. I know that comes as a shock to many people. Some of you are saying, "Of course they do. We have the largest equipment in the industry," or "We have the smartest people around." But your prospects don't care about that.
What do they care about? They care about themselves. Every time a prospect looks at your marketing, all they are thinking is, "What's in it for me?" This means you need to be communicating benefits not just features. Yes, there is a difference.
I have found these listed in marketing communication material as benefits:
- One-click buying
- 200-CD jukebox
- Self-cleaning oven
- In business since 1910
- State-of-the-art technology
- Live operator on duty 24/7
- We have the biggest widget maker
- Award winning
In business since 1910. Who cares? Your prospects don't, yet you see many businesses communicating how long they've been in business. These are not benefits. These are all features. None of them tell a prospect what's in it for them.
Here are some examples of benefits:
- Time savings
- Hassle free
- Lower cost
- Feel better
- No pain
- Easy access
- Less resources required
Anytime you can help a prospect feel better, be smarter, avoid pain, or save time or money, then you are truly providing a benefit. These all answer, "What's in it for me?"
By the way, the corresponding benefit to being in business since 1910 is reliability. If a prospect knows you've been around that long, there is a good chance you'll be around when they need you.
Another way to think about the benefits you offer your prospects and customers is to think about what you are really selling. Printers don't just sell ink on paper; they sell communication. Eye doctors don't sell frames and glass; they sell vision. Home Depot doesn't sell drill bits; it sells holes.
Make a list of the benefits you offer your customers and prospects. Then list the benefits your competition offers. If the two lists are the same, neither company has a competitive advantage to offer prospects.
A competitive advantage is defined as the benefit you offer that your competition doesn't. If you have just one more benefit to offer than your competition, you have a competitive advantage. Be careful because the opposite is also true. If your competition has one more benefit than you, they have the competitive advantage.
Sometimes you have to dig deep to find the right benefit to offer your prospects. Sometimes they aren't as obvious as those stated above.
My co-author of Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days, Jay Levinson, used to drive 25 miles to his favorite bookstore. Between his home and the bookstore, there were probably a dozen other bookstores that he could visit. Why did he visit the one far away? Because it had the best carrot cake in its café. When the bookstore put together its list of benefits, I guarantee carrot cake didn't make the initial list. But as more and more people walked in the door and said, "You have the best carrot cake of any bookstore," it became a competitive advantage. No other bookstore had the best carrot cake.
What is the carrot cake in your business?
Al Lautenslager is the "Guerrilla Marketing" coach at Entrepreneur.com and is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant and direct-mail promotion specialist. He's also the principal of Market For Profits, a Chicago-based marketing consulting firm. His two latest books,Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days and The Ultimate Guide to Direct Marketing are available at www.entrepreneurpress.com.