Sales training often teaches us that customers make buying decisions based on (1) their emotions (“Sell the sizzle, not the steak!”) and (2) the value the product or service brings to them. Marketing specialists capitalize on customers’ emotion-based buying habits. Customers choose a product or service based on its benefits, not its features. The features are simply the bare-bones facts–the elements or significant parts–of the product or service. The benefits are its value to the customer–how it will solve their problems, eliminate their pain, and make life glorious.
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To understand the difference between features and benefits, let’s think about a car:
Features of a car
- V-6 engine, dual exhaust, front-wheel drive, sunroof, significant interior legroom, heated seats, heated glass
Benefits of those features
- V-6 engine–ability to pull onto the highway without hesitation (and to impress your friends)
- Dual exhausts–higher fuel efficiency and more power (and it sounds groovy and also impresses your friends)
- Front-wheel drive–more interior room because of the lack of a driveshaft tunnel
- Sunroof–the open feel of a convertible with the safety and security of a sedan
- Legroom–greater comfort while driving long distances and more room for your growing family
- Heated seats–cozy motoring on frigid days and nights; greater back comfort on long-distance trips
- Heated glass–the convenience of not having to scrape icy windows in the winter
The more perceived value a benefit offers, the higher it gets ranked in your decision to purchase. Objectively, a sunroof is not a significant feature, but if it makes you feel a bit like a race car driver, perhaps that benefit raises its value for you. Heated seats are nice too, but they might not rank high in value for to people who live in a warm climate and wouldn’t strongly influence their buying decision. The benefits of dual exhausts, however, might have perceived value for all buyers–better fuel efficiency, more power, and a sound like your beloved but departed ’57 Chevy.
What does all this have to do with your referral marketing message? Simply this: Most businesspeople, without thinking about it, talk in terms of features. As professional experts and salespeople, that’s what they’re most familiar with. They’re not accustomed to looking at their products or services from a customer’s perspective.
In formulating the message you want your networking partners to convey, your challenge is to put yourself in the customer’s place. What are the benefits of your product or service? How will it make the customer’s life or business easier, more comfortable, more satisfying, more profitable? How can you shorten and simplify your message so that others can communicate these benefits more clearly and surely?
Now that you have a good understanding of the difference between features and benefits, I hope you’ll come back next week to read the follow-up blog post I’ll be doing which will teach show you exactly how to zero in on the benefits of your business. Until then, if you have any questions about features vs. benefits or any thoughts you’d like to share regarding this post, please leave a comment in the comment forum below. Thanks!