Defining your product is key to creating a good marketing plan. To define your product, you consider both its features and its benefits. One of the keys to marketing is to sell the benefits not the features. How do you know the difference?
Features characterize the product; benefits are why we buy the product. Features are easy to describe. Examples could include size, color, design, hours of business, fabric content, years of business experience.
Benefits are more difficult to define. They do, however, answer your customer’s question, “What’s in it for me?” When you buy products, you don’t buy because of a feature; you buy because of a benefit. Benefit is the value attributed to the feature of the product; in other words, it’s the result of the feature. Benefits are not as easy to describe and are often intangible. The most compelling benefits are those that deliver emotional or financial rewards. Emotional rewards let the buyer feel good. Examples could be shopping at an online retailer who donates a percentage of your purchase to a charity you choose or sending a quilt to someone to let you express love. Products that offer financial rewards usually save time or money, offer convenience or make you money.
How do you determine the benefits of your product or service? Start by knowing who your customers are and then look at your product from their point of view. Who are your customers? Are they baby boomers with expendable income? Are they Gen Xers? Are they teens and tweens? Are they working mothers with little free time? You might be trying to reach a variety of groups and need to consider benefits for each of them. Consider also who has purchased your product or service in the past. What does your customer profile tell you about your product? For example, do you sell your product to customers who might be retired and have extra time for long-range projects? Do you sell your product to working mothers who want something quick and easy? Do most of your store’s customers shop after 5 p.m. and on weekends? Ask your customers to help identify your product’s benefits. You could do this informally or with a survey. Your customers might even identify benefits you didn’t consider.
Developing your benefits statement is an ongoing process. As you continue to market your product, be aware of additional benefits. You might ask your customers for suggestions to your product or service. Pay attention to complaints or unsolicited comments about your product. Also, consider what your competition is doing. Additionally, consider how you’ll package your product. You might find a benefit there.
Once you’ve established your benefits statements, you will be able to describe your products in ways that are important to your customer. You will do this in all aspects of promotion, whether that is in creating your marketing collateral, advertising your product, writing articles or speaking one-on-one to customers about your product. You will also be able to differentiate your product from that of your competitors. You will be able to provide a benefit to your customers that your competition cannot. Now you’re on your way to a successful marketing strategy.
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