In Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Daysthe late founder of guerrilla marketing, Jay Conrad Levinson, and guerrilla marketing expert, Al Lautenslager offer a dynamic marketing blueprint to help business owners attract more customers and maximize profits. In this edited excerpt, the authors explain the importance of identifying the benefits, not the features, of your products and why marketing those benefits will help you increase your sales.

A feature is a factual statement about a product or service. Factual statements aren't why customers buy; benefits are.

Many factual statements are often referred to as benefits:

  • Self-cleaning oven
  • 200-CD jukebox
  • One-click buying on Amazon
  • Live operator on duty 24/7
  • 125-page owner's manual included
  • In business since 1910
  • We have the biggest widget maker
  • Award-winning
  • Made with 100 percent recycled product

Prospects and customers care very little about these statements: Not one of these examples tells a prospect how their life or business will improve as a result of buying your product or service.

The latest and greatest equipment means nothing to a prospective buyer unless that feature translates into lower costs, quicker delivery or something else of value. Being established 100 years ago means nothing to a prospective buyer unless that feature can be translated into a benefit of reliability and a guarantee of being in business in the future.

Now let's translate the factual feature statements above into benefits:

  • Convenience
  • Time savings
  • Organization
  • Easy access
  • Immediacy
  • Quicker answers
  • Immediate access to information
  • Fewer resources required
  • Reliability

Benefits sell. Benefits clearly answer the customer questions "What's in it for me?" or "What results will I get that will improve my current situation?" or "Will it make me healthier, wealthier or wiser?"

The most compelling benefits are those that provide emotional or financial return. It's not the steak, it's the sizzle. It's not the gift, it's the thought. It's not the price, it's the overall value. Emotional returns are related to making the customer feel better in some way. Financial returns generally save money or make money for a customer.

How do you know if you're touting a benefit or a feature? It's actually easier than you think. Can you give an affirmative answer to the question "Will this one thing improve the life, cost, health or well-being of someone?" If the answer is yes, then you have a benefit that can be marketed to this someone who's part of your target market. If the answer is no, chances are, you've identified a feature. You must now find the benefit associated with that feature. If there's no benefit, forget about it.

Another way to get into the mindset of thinking about and defining your benefits is to answer the question "What are you really selling?" For instance, if you go to your local hardware store to buy a drill bit, you probably don't care about how hard the steel in that bit is or what kind of package it's in. You probably don't even care about the price of that drill bit. What do you care about? You care most about the holes that drill bit will help you make. Based on that, all marketing and statements related to the benefits of that drill bit should focus on the quality of the holes, not the features of the product.

Competitive Advantage

A benefit that you offer that the competition doesn't is a unique benefit and a competitive advantage. Creating an advantage that's difficult to duplicate is the ultimate competitive advantage.

A benefit is a competitive advantage when it:

  • Gets the attention of prospects
  • Sells your product or service
  • Keeps customers coming back
  • Causes prospects to talk about your product to other potential buyers
  • Buries the competition

Your competitive advantage becomes the basis of your:

  • Message and communication to the marketplace
  • Headlines
  • 30-second networking commercial
  • Positioning
  • PR
  • Prospecting methods and communication
  • Overall marketing

You should be able to effectively communicate your competitive advantage to your target market, both verbally and in print.

Chances are that when asked what they do, most companies would have trouble reciting something that flowed. Most would stumble and not have information explaining why they're different from their competitors. Those who don't know their competitive advantage or how to communicate it generally fall back on price, quality and service pitches to customers. In today's world, competitive pricing, good quality and service with attention are givens. In today's markets, you have to show service that's above and beyond. You have to set new standards with your quality and show that price includes more than numbers on an invoice.

Guerrilla marketing doesn't focus on pricing. Sure, pricing is part of marketing, but your customers want much more than a price on the invoice. Ask your customers why they do business with you. Perhaps you offer benefits that you don't know you're offering. You might be surprised to find out what they really value most. But knowing why they do business with you will help you market to others like them and turn them into paying customers.

Dig deep to find and best communicate the benefits you offer. Here's an example that might help you figure out what you do best. For many years, friends of mine drove many miles to their favorite bookstore. In between that bookstore and their home, there were other bookstores that they could have easily visited. But it was a true benefit and competitive advantage of that bookstore that caused them to visit the further location: That particular bookstore had the best carrot cake in their café. When that bookstore put together their list of benefits, carrot cake was not on that list. As they listened to their customers and prospects walking through the door, exclaiming that the bookstore had the best carrot cake in their café, they realized they possessed a competitive advantage. Offering the best carrot cake was a benefit the competition didn't have; therefore, it was a competitive advantage that could be marketed over and over. They dug deep to find this benefit and advantage. What's the carrot cake in your business or organization?