Customers make their buying decisions based on emotion, not logic. They may evaluate the qualities and characteristics of a product or service with rational thinking. But how they feel about it — specifically how they feel the product or service will relieve a pain or increase their pleasure — determines their final decision.
The qualities and characteristics of a product or service are its features, while the emotional content of its features — the feelings that the features evoke — are the benefits of the product or service.
Knowing how to identify the benefits that your product or service offers your target market is key to marketing your business. Often we are so close to our products that we confuse their benefits with their characteristics.
How To Identify Your Business’s Specific Benefits
Here is an exercise to help you identify the specific benefits your business offers. First you list the key qualities and characteristics of your product or service. Then you identify the benefits of each of them by asking “Why is that important?”
For example, a dry cleaning service may offer its customers home pickup and delivery of their clothes. Home pickup and delivery is a feature — a characteristic — of this business. The dry cleaning service may also have these features: same day cleaning, dry cleaning by the weight, open 7 days a week and eco-friendly cleaning fluids.
We’ll take one of the features of the dry cleaning business and use a drill down exercise to identify the benefits it provides. With this feature, we’ll ask the question, “Why is that important?” The answer to that question identifies a benefit.
Then we’ll ask, “Why is that benefit important?” When we get that answer, we’ll ask “Why is that benefit important?” This process helps us drill down to benefits that we may not think of at first. And it helps us get to the core benefit.
We’ll keep asking the question “Why is that benefit important” until we run out of benefits of that specific feature.
The Benefits Drill-down Exercise Process
Feature: Home pickup and delivery
Question: Why is this feature (home pickup and delivery) important?
Question: Why is this benefit (convenience) important?
Answer: I don’t need to spend time driving to the dry cleaners twice — once for drop off and once for pick up.
Question: Why is that benefit (not making 2 trips to the dry cleaners) important?
Answer: I can use the time I’d spend driving to the dry cleaner to do billable work.
Question: Why is that benefit (more time to do billable work) important?
Answer: I can make more money.
Question: Why is that benefit (make more money) important?
Answer: I can achieve my revenue goal.
The more you drill down by repeatedly asking “Why is that benefit important?” the more you get to the core of the benefit that your service or product offers your target market.
Now it’s your turn!
Take a feature of your product or service and do the drill down exercise. When you run out of answers to the question “Why is that benefit important?”, take a hard look at the last answer. Typically, your last answer is the key benefit of that specific feature. In dry cleaning example, the core benefit was “I can achieve my revenue goal.” The last answer is usually the one you want to emphasize when you write your promotional website pages and other marketing media.
All of the answers in the drill down exercise have value. Keep them handy. You’ll want to use many of them in the content of your website, in your conversations with potential clients, and in your other marketing materials.