The past few weeks have had the the subject of features and benefits pop up a lot.
For the non-marketing people out there, let me explain the difference.
The Feature: What makes a product or service that product or service. It’s the steak. It’s the drill.
The Benefit: What the customer gets out of buying that product or service. It’s the sizzle. It’s the hole.
My very well-dressed sales friend suggested I read a book he himself had just finished, Admen, Mad Men, and the Real World of Advertising, by Dave Marinaccio. I’m only a couple of chapters in, but one of them had all to do with the importance of benefits. And everything he wrote was pretty much what I have learned in my 15 years of being in the advertising field. Except where he learned about benefits by having to write copy about perfume (which you have to make benefits up, like having sexy times because you wear a certain perfume – his words, not mine), I formally learned about benefits from having to take the Professional Selling Skills training in my last job. I wasn’t a sales person, but the President thought it was a good idea for me to intimately learn features and benefits so I could speak the language of sales and help in the selling process. It was a great thing to add to my marketing arsenal.
A few weeks ago I held a brainstorming session for a local organization to help them find their Unique Selling Propositions and their Benefit Statements.
We had a big easel of paper that had sticky backing. We first went around the room and listed out all of the features of that organization. We then crossed out those features that other organizations also had and circled the ones that were unique. Then, for each unique benefit, we used a new sheet of paper to brainstorm the benefits of said feature. The benefits had to be made as statements as if the member was saying why it was important to them. W.I.I.F.M is pronounced like “wiffim” and means What’s In It For Me.
We had a wall full of individual benefits (sticky backing, remember?). While by themselves they were strong, if we combined similar benefits together that expressed similar attitudes, they should be powerful. So we played the “Yes And” brainstorming game where we picked a benefit statement and then looked around to the other sheets to find other benefit statements that sounded like they came from the same person. This exercise led us to coming up with three kinds of members (and potential members) they have in their organization. We were then able to talk about how the marketing materials should lend themselves to trying to sell to these three kinds of people in ways that matter to them, because we have a product/service that fits their needs.