Marketing your idea: Avoid the feature trap!

Now anyone who has ever been put through the sales training mill at Procter & Gamble will have had drilled into them the difference between ‘features’ and ‘benefits’.

What’s that got to do with me and my business proposition? I don’t sell packaged goods and I don’t have the biggest advertising budget in the world!

Well if you’re looking to market a product or service particularly as an early trading business it’s really hard not to want to brag about every feature going. Let’s face it you want to sing to the world the beauty of your Mega-technoblaster’s through-channel dimensionality buster with multi-modal interoperability. Why? Because you’re proud of what you’ve designed and built and sweated over.

What if you’ve come up with the greatest thing since sliced bread? No… make that what if you’ve come up with the latest sliced bread – which features a really interesting resealable device that creates a vacuum in the bag (hey, that’s not a bad idea!). You’re really tempted to shout from the rooftops about the technological breakthrough, the way the plastic bag is produced and the material it’s made of which is different from its competitors.

The fact is that we’re all so tempted to talk about the features of our product – me included. But that’s not why people buy. They buy because of the benefit of the product i.e. what it does for them. So if you’ve invented this particular version of sliced bread then sell the benefit – ‘it stays fresher for longer so tastes better’.

Features are good, but benefits are better.

So, if you’re thinking of launching a new product or service, figure out precisely who is your first target market and what benefit or dare we say, what (using that well-flogged term) USP do you have?

Now sometimes it’s not immediately apparent whether you’re sitting on a feature or a benefit. So, ask the ’so what’ question. Try it yourself: ‘automatic transmission’ – so what? – answer: ’smoother ride’ – so what? – answer: well, it’s an end in itself. So ‘automatic’ is a feature and ’smoother ride’ is the benefit.

Clarifying the customer benefit defined in the customer’s language is fundamental. It’s not just for your potential customer but for anyone – investors, suppliers, partners – whom you need to convince on your journey to success.

Want to know more? Watch the video below to find out how to introduce your innovation into the marketplace so that it spreads like a wild-fire.

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