What You Do Vs. What Your Customers Think You Do
Nice, your new product just dropped.
It’s your best yet. It’s shinier, faster, smaller (or bigger?), more powerful, more everything than the one before. Or it’s your first ever product, and you’re about to turn heads with your game-changing entrance to the tech market.
The product landing page is all set.
But wait. What’s that? That shrivelled, dry thing tumbling over the metaphorical highway?
Ah yes, a tumbleweed. Your website is a ghost town.
You’re selling, but no one’s buying. You’ve explained the exceptional new system architecture like the enhanced hyper-weave capacity and memory transfer flux regulator…so why aren’t they biting?
Simple. You’re burying your benefits under features. In other words, you’re burying your brilliance.
When buying a new product, people act with their heart first, head later. This means you need to appeal to their emotions first. Features (like above) don’t do this. Let’s investigate a little more.
What happens when you lead with features?
Let’s use Craft as an example. If all we spoke about was writing copy and what makes words special, our clients would think of us as just ‘words people’. Which is fair, because we kind of are. But this is a feature of our business – a factual statement about our service. Our real value isn’t in the copy we write. It’s in the deep thinking behind the copy and what it achieves.
Here’s what we do:
We help businesses like yours get more customers through clear and engaging brand messaging.
Above, we’re telling you not only what we do, but why it matters to you. We know you don’t want to hear us ramble on about word choice or syntax. You want to know how our services will positively impact your business – aka the benefit of working with Craft.
When we lead with features, we don’t communicate value in what we do. Which means potential customers have no emotional reason to engage and spend their money. We’re showing people the blunt end of our offering. The hilt of our sword.
Conversely, when we lead with benefits, we’re leading with the pointy bit.
If LinkedIn led with features, for example, it might say “a social media platform that lets you send messages to people from other businesses,” or “a site where businesses can post things”. Instead, they take a benefits-first approach, positioning their platform as a space that unites businesses and professionals together, fuelling careers and commercial growth.
See the difference?
Unlocking the power of emotion with benefits
Benefits are what make people think ‘yes, that will make my life or business better, cooler, more fun, easier – I’ll buy it’.
Consider Apple’s original iPod advert ‘1000 songs in your pocket’.
Now imagine if they went with ‘64 GB of music storage capacity’:
Doesn’t spark the imagination, does it?
Neither does it convey the revolutionary convenience of having so much of your favourite music with you wherever you are. This is the reason Apple has been so successful. An intrinsic understanding of how to emotionally connect with people beyond technical features.
Benefits aren’t easy to figure out either. To find them, you must know your audience inside and out. Especially the problems they have which your offering fixes. Or, if there’s not a specific problem, how it generally improves their lives (real or perceived). You must empathise with them; their pains, motivations, interests. Once you’re in this headspace, you must articulate clearly, in a way they relate to, why your offering matters to them.
Think outside the benefits box
Sometimes a benefit might not relate to a specific product or service feature. Think about a Rolex watch. People pay thousands for one, yet they tell the time no better than a standard watch at a fraction of the price. Why? Because with Rolex people aren’t buying based on function. They’re buying a status symbol. Buying prestige.
To create desire, classic Rolex ads soldered their watches to an exclusive lifestyle, for example:
‘If you were skiing here tomorrow, you’d wear a Rolex’ (with an image of a skier on a snowy mountain slope).
Rolex is concerned with positioning its watches as an accessory for successful, wealthy people living the dream. The benefits are:
If you wear a Rolex, you’ll be perceived as successful.
If you’re successful and don’t wear a Rolex you’re not truly ‘part of the club’.
This is what makes people crave one. And once they do, reading about expensive materials like gold and silver strengthens their desire. It’s the proof they need that they’re about to buy a quality product. This is what features are supposed to do: support the benefit. Not the other way round.
Feelings, then facts.
And if you get this right as a brand, you won’t just sell more of whatever it is you’re selling, you’ll carve out a space for yourself in the social consciousness. People will associate your brand with a way of life. The life they want, or the life they have – either way you’ll be part of their world, their dreams.
And the best bit? They’ll keep coming back for more.