Features and benefits are the staples of any basic sales training course. The ability to differentiate between what something is and the benefits that its features deliver to the user is an essential foundation of all sales and marketing. But really effective online marketing does more than this. Effective online marketing uses the power of storytelling to evoke emotion and create a strong desire.
Here’s an example.
Neverfade ™ is a paint for external woodwork that is guaranteed to last 15 years without becoming dull, losing its colour or flaking off. It can be painted over bare wood, existing paintwork or woodstain. It costs £100 for a 1 litre tin. How would somebody sell that to me?
I might be sceptical about the claims. Some technical details about the formulation, how it uses the latest polymer science developed by NASA scientists and so on will help deal with those concerns. But it’s still £100 a tin!
OK then – some benefits.
You will only have to repaint my window frames after 15-20 years. In the long run this is going to save money as you might otherwise have to buy 3 or 4 loads of primer, undercoat and topcoat in that time. The product will be saving you time and money over that period.
OK I see the point. But this is all a long way off. And you want £100 per tin today. And actually I might need 2 tins!
Now tell me a story that invites me to think of how I prefer to spend my time; up a wobbly ladder sanding down window frames, covered with dust, cleaning paintbrushes and the mind-numbing boredom of painting. Or playing golf, watching Exeter Chiefs or having a day out with family and friends. Take my mind to a happier place and I’m likely to be hitting Google to see where I can buy this stuff.
This is a simple example to make the point. I’m sure you can think of plenty of ways that you can apply this logic to your marketing. Don’t just tell people about the benefits – help them to feel the benefits.
Now think about your website content. Many smaller business websites I look at focus on features. Some of the better ones are clear about benefits. But hardly any use content that is focused on how people will feel as a result of using the product or service. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that I rarely meet small businesses who are totally satisfied with the contribution that their online marketing makes to their business results.
The evolution of content marketing takes story telling in marketing to a new level – you have so many stories to tell and so many opportunities to tell them. Your content strategy should be based around the challenges, concerns and interests of your target customers and these should always be the starting point for blog posts and other content.
Resist the temptation to make a direct sales pitch with a systematic explanation of how your offer addresses the customer’s issues. Take one of those issues and build a story that shows somebody that things can be different. Offer helpful advice and valuable insights that deepen understanding and encourage people to look at their issues in a different way. Above all, put a bit of your heart and soul into the content. Show that you care about your customers’ issues and that you are caring and thoughtful about what you do.
People and businesses now spend significant amounts of time online researching potential purchases before they part with their cash. So the quality of your online marketing content is becoming more critical to the success of your business. If you want to make the most of this opportunity then you need to invest in content that moves beyond ‘features and benefits’ and engages your audience by evoking feelings and emotions.
Note: Neverfade is not available in the shops or on line, because I made it up.
Find out how to use written content to build trust and build sales. Call me on 01823 674167.