Article #37, September, 2005
Begin Banishing Your Marketing Overwhelm!
Marketing your business can be quite overwhelming. There are so many choices! It’s difficult to know the right things to do. By properly preparing, you gain confidence and have a much greater chance for success. Even before completing any preparatory work, ask yourself these tough questions:
- Why are you in this business?
- Do you believe in your product/service?
- What are you trying to accomplish?
When you believe in your product and understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, the rest of the marketing process becomes much easier.
The results of the following exercise will provide material for all your marketing efforts. You can use the information on your website, in your sales presentation, in your advertising, in your networking and everywhere else you ‘touch’ your prospects.
The first step in the plan is to know the features and benefits of your product or service (let’s say product). (If you have a service business, this list should include information about you.) For example, let’s say your product is office furniture. Describing the features of your product and your company might look like this:
- Been in business 18 years
- Lots of variety – including home office
- Free delivery
- All price points
- 7 day guarantee
While knowing your features is very important, it’s even more important to identify the benefits of your product. This process involves more thought – you need to put your feet in your ideal customers’ shoes and ask, “What’s in it for me? (wiifm)” For example, “Why should I care if you’ve been in business 18 years? How does that help me?”
To fully understand the benefits of your product, first list the features, and then answer the wiifm question for every feature. There are no rules for this exercise and there will likely be more than one benefit for some features. Getting back to our office furniture example, here are some benefits:
- Longevity – we’ll be here for you when you need us. We will remember you! You don’t even have to come into the store when you need something. Bottom line – a relationship, convenience and peace of mind.
- Variety – one-stop-shopping. No matter what you need, we have it or we will get it for you. We save you time.
- Free Delivery – save you money.
- All prices – you will not be disappointed. When you come to our store, you will find what you want within your budget! We save you money and minimize stress at the same time.
- Guarantee – If it doesn’t fit or doesn’t look good, we’ll take it back – no questions asked. This gives peace of mind and freedom in making your decision.
If you get stuck determining the benefits, ask your customers! Why did you buy from us? If the answer is vague, be willing to go deeper and deeper until you get something useful. For example:
- “I bought from you because I liked the furniture.”
- You go further – “What did you like about it?”
- “It matched my existing office furniture.”
- “So, you appreciated the variety we offer? Did you look anywhere else? What did you find there – good and bad? Were there any other reasons you bought from us?”
This may be stressful for you, and you may feel like you’re bugging your customers. Again, put your feet in your customers’ shoes – do you think your customers want you to succeed? If your vendors called to ask you to help them, would you? If you’re still uncomfortable, offer an incentive or gift to customers who help you to do this research.
Another way to define benefits that are important to your prospects is to determine their needs and define their problems. By fully understanding your potential customers’ needs and problems, you can better give them what they want. Sometimes your prospects don’t fully understand their needs and problems, so doing this research in advance and being prepared with this information, you can help them even more.
It’s critical to always keep your favorite type of customer (your target) in mind when doing this exercise. Match up what they most want and need with your benefits, and create a benefits statement that makes an emotional connection with your target. You may want to include points of differentiation (see last month’s article) in this statement.
Whether you do your own marketing or hire a consultant, you need to intimately understand how you and your target connect. Combined with a genuine belief that your product truly benefits your target customer, your benefit statement will bring you lots of business!