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Features (Our Products) vs. Benefits (Customer Needs)

Let’s face it, we like to toot our own horns. We like to tell prospects how long we’ve been in business, how many batteries are included, how many machines we have, how fast we are, how many colors we offer, and so on. We blast out our features so prospects can appreciate how great we are. Unfortunately, that usually doesn’t give them a compelling reason to buy.

Here are a few examples of how features can be described:

Our security system is foolproof
Our 20-number speed dial means fewer keystrokes
Our custom programs are designed just for you
We have operators on duty 24/7 so you can talk to a live person anytime

Sounds like it’s all about us doesn't it?

Once again, telling our prospects how great we are, or how our products function, does not necessarily elicit the emotional connection necessary to make a sale in today’s competitive world. Features are just factual statements. They don’t convey a personal need.

Benefits on the other hand, state the all-important “What's in it for me?" value for the prospect or customer.

The best way to understand the true benefit of your product or service is to focus on the results they have on people’s lives. When someone chooses a Blu-Ray player with a self-setting clock, the assumption is that the benefit is convenience, but the actual results may be that they don't have to read the instructions, watch a blinking 12:00, and, most importantly, feel stupid. Those results are the true benefits.

Here are examples of how benefits can be described:

• A home security system means I can sleep soundly knowing my family is safe
• 20-number speed dial means: I can keep in touch with my best customers without effort, and I won't get frustrated misdialing.
• Custom programming means I can accomplish exactly what I need to, and I won't have to pay for services I don't want.
• Live operators 24/7 means I know issues can be addressed immediately and I can enjoy the rest of my weekend without worry.

How do you know which benefits speak to your own prospects?

It's in your best interest to draw the connection from feature to benefit to your prospects and customers. To do that, you must know the relevant results experienced by your current customers, which means you must know your customers.

To know your customer, gather as much information as possible on each market segment. That means gather demographic data (age, sex, household income, family size, number of credit cards, media preferences and so on) and psychographic data (value system, primary hot button, behavioral style, response mechanisms, fears, passions and so on).

You can get much of the demographic data from studying your present customers.

Psychographic data can be accessed through Customer Profiling, a service MSI has been offering and is uniquely situated to provide, as well as interpretation of the data and action plans to put that information into a great marketing campaign.

Another area to consider is your own point of view. We tend to automatically fill in the blanks with assumptions about prospects. No matter what type of business you have, you're bound to think it's great because you fully understand what you're offering. But a prospect knows little or nothing about your offer; that's why they can't make the same connections that you can.

Your demographic and psychographic information will allow you to discover what patterns exist among your customers. Using that information, you must learn to put yourself in their shoes as the buyer. Approach your own product or service as if you'd never seen it, then ask yourself-and anyone else who will answer-"What results will that feature bring me?" and "Why would I want to consider buying or switching?”

We are here to assist you in speaking to your prospects and customers in ways that will illicit response and garner more leads. Please call your sales representative if you would like to learn more about our Customer Profiling service.

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