Last week I had coffee with a business friend and we got talking about ways to grow her business. It’s no surprise that she has a website and uses social media, along with in-person networking, to get her marketing message out.
The question is: Can her marketing message be improved so it will give her an advantage over the competition?
The answer is yes – but it is kind of a trick question because everyone (present company included) can make their marketing message better.
The Value of Selling Results
A small business owner typically doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars allocated to their marketing budget to plan, produce and run an effective Image Advertising campaign; like soft drink and automobile manufactures do.
So for us, we need to take the more cost-effective Direct Marketing approach. The process is simple. You determine who your ideal client is and then you figure out the best way (and time) to get your marketing message in front of them.
The key factor in getting this to work is the message. Like it or not, if you are a business owner you need to “sell” your products and services. And, you need to do it in an informative, friendly and unobtrusive manner.
That’s where the value of selling results comes in. When you (or your webpage) are in front of a potential customer, you need to quickly relate the “results” they will get by choosing to do business with you. In other words, you must tell them up-front what benefits they will get from using your products and services.
Your focus should be on them not you and your business. To be effective at Direct Marketing it is essential for you to create an image in their mind (through your spoken words or written text) which allows them to experience the full end-result of what you are selling. If they cannot picture (or imagine) themselves benefiting from using your products and services, the sale will not take place.
Features and Benefits
Do you make this mistake in your marketing message?
Although I haven’t accurately tracked the numbers, I can tell you that over 90% of the marketing materials I review on a yearly basis start with something like: “Our goal is to give you…” or even worse, “We’ve been in business for xx years and that’s why…”
Just in case you don’t see it, neither one of these are a benefit to the prospect. They also do not help to create a picture in their mind which conveys the end-result they will experience.
To help make this a little more clear for you, let me give you some examples.
For someone who sells window treatments, one benefit is having a more beautiful home and the feeling of pride that brings. For someone who sells catering, one benefit is more time to spend with family and friends so they can enjoy their event. For someone who sells financial planning, one benefit is peace of mind knowing the future is secure.
The benefits convey the end-result. The prospect can imagine their beautiful home, imagine being relaxed at their event and imagine having a financially secure future. They can see it, feel it and experience it.
Features on the other hand, are the “supporting facts” about the actual product or service but not the main selling point.
Form the examples above some features would be: The fabric resists fading due to sunlight; Our staff is prompt and experienced; This portfolio typically yields a yearly 7% return.
Again, features are facts and figures which allow the benefit to be realized. Notice that the feature itself does not create a picture of the end result.
Start Small, Think Big
To get your marketing message in shape, first make a list of all the features your business has to offer. Next, list the benefit (the end-result) the customer gets from each feature. Now, make sure you convey every benefit in all your marketing materials.
Start with one piece (like the home page on your website) and then transfer your benefit-driven message to all your marketing collateral.