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Are you making this classic mistake in your business?

by Alison Bradford

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Whilst driving about with my husband the other day I happened to point out a car I quite like as I’m thinking about upgrading my car soon.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: I like the look of that one

Husband: Yes, it’s 4 wheel drive too (in an excited voice)

Me: Mmm, what does 4 wheel drive mean? (confused)

Husband: Well, it means all 4 wheels are in motion.

Me: What? Don’t all cars have 4 wheels in motion when they’re moving?

Husband: Well yes, but most cars are 2 wheel drive so the power from the engine goes to only 2 wheels.

Me: But what does that mean? (getting more confused)

Husband: It means that in a 4 wheel drive the engine in powering all 4 wheels.

Me: Huh? But what does that mean? (getting annoyed now)

Husband: What I said, the engine powers all 4 wheels rather than just 2.

Me: But what does that actually mean? Tell me the benefits!

Husband: It means that it’s safer to drive, especially on tricky road surfaces such as when it’s wet or icy.

Me: Ahhh! Now I get it!

Do you get it?

Unlike me, you may already understand perfectly well how 4 wheel drive works – the point of this little story is that we often talk about the features of something versus the benefits of it.

I wasn’t really interested in the features of 4 wheel drive, I just wanted to know what the benefits were, and I was getting increasingly frustrated with my husband trying to explain the features to me.

Can you think of any similar experiences you’ve had?

It’s a very common mistake that gets made time and time again in marketing, as people try to explain the features of what they are marketing rather than the benefits it will actually deliver.

Here’s another example that I’ve taken from Simon Sinek’s book, ‘Start with why’.

The first mp3 player was invented and launched by a company called Creative Technology Ltd. They advertised their product as ‘a 5GB mp3 player’.

Apple launched their iPod 22 months later with the message ‘1000 songs in your pocket’.

See? Creative focused on the features of their product whilst Apple focused on the benefits. Get the difference?

I’m sure that Creative’s product was probably just as good as the iPod, but, have you heard of them?

A feature is factual statement whereas a benefit tells the customer what’s in it for them.

Whenever you’re describing a feature always, always, always follow it with ‘which means that ….’ and I promise you it will connect with more people, more powerfully.

So, your mission for this week is to review your marketing material, identify anywhere you refer to features, and either replace this with a benefit or follow it with ‘which means that …..’

Let me know how you get on by leaving me a comment below.

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Alison Bradford

Alison Bradford is a business coach who works with smart, ambitious business owners to get clarity about how they can grow their business and increase profit. Sign up here to learn 6 easy ways you can boost profit in your business today.

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