Think HBR

How your marketing can help you stand out

Julianne Schwenke
Andrew Masi
Yellow Coaching
Are you often contacted by prospective customers whose first question is how much your product or service costs? Do they then compare you to your competitors on price alone, without regard to the quality of the product or service you provide?
A lack of information in your marketing messages may be partly to blame. If you haven’t let your prospective customers know the benefits of using you, the only thing they will be able to compare you on is price.
One mistake we see businesses make is only promoting the features of their product or service (ie what they provide). For example an outdoor furniture manufacturer may simply advertise that they make wooden outdoor tables and chairs. The only people interested in that marketing will be people who have decided that wooden outdoor furniture is what they want to buy.
But what about those who want outdoor furniture, and are tossing up the options of wrought iron, plastic, or wooden items? They may be unsure which provides the best durability, functionality, and value for money.
To get their attention, you can communicate both the features and benefits of what you provide. The reason? Put simply, people don’t care about you, they care about what you can do for them. And of all the ways you can help them, people care most about the following three things:
1. How you can save them time
2. How you can save them money
3. How you can make them money
So how do you communicate the features and benefits of your product or service so you stand out from the crowd?
We suggest you start by making three columns with the headings: Features | …which means… | Benefits
First list the features of your product or service. If you sell wooden outdoor furniture, for example, three features of your furniture may be:
1. Made of hardwood
2. 10 year guarantee
3. Hand-made locally from Australian materials
Then in the benefits column, write the benefits to the consumer of that feature. For example:
Feature: Made of hardwood. Benefit: Lasts longer than other materials, weather resistant, doesn’t require replacing as often, saving you time and money 2. 10 year guarantee:
Feature: 10 year guarantee.
Benefit: Don’t have to worry about quality, we’ll repair or replace, saving you money and time
Feature: Locally made from Australian materials. Benefit: Makes money for local industry, businesses and their families.
The middle column is a connector showing the relationship between the first and the third columns. Other phrases you could use include “so” and “therefore”. Putting this all together, you could write a meaningful paragraph about your furniture for your website, internet directory pages, brochures etc:
Our furniture is made from naturally strong hardwood perfectly suited to harsh Australian conditions, so it will last for years, saving you money. Products are hand-made locally from all-Australian materials.
We believe in supporting local industry, businesses and their families, and we thank you for doing the same. With each piece you receive our 10 year guarantee, which means you can have peace of mind that we stand by the quality of our materials and workmanship.
Not all benefits will be important to all people, but you are giving them every opportunity to find out why they should choose you. It’s up to you to educate your potential customers on how you can make their lives easier and better.
For further information or details on complimentary advisory session call Andrew Masi or Julianne Schwenke at Yellow Coaching on (02) 4933 6622, email