Sometimes it isn’t obvious why our marketing materials, especially our digital ones, are not getting the job done. Having a guideline to check against our materials and pitches can be a huge help, and here are the guidelines I try to use as much as possible when working on my own website, or those for my clients.
Here are the 4 thought processes I run through when I am creating, and editing, content.
1. Am I thinking like the customer?
A lot of websites and digital marketing efforts speak in terms of their industry. So a lawyer might have on their website:
“We are well respected attorneys with 25 years experience, and we will do our best to make sure justice is served”
This is a fair way to describe themselves, and it makes a lot of sense to cover your bets, from an attorneys perspective, after all, you cannot win every case, and most of the time, in most court situations, there is more than likely some kind of compromise that is met. But this attorney is not likely trying to convince other attorneys to hire them. They are trying to get people who are NOT attorneys, and who really do not care about being fair, they want to win. They might be unrealistic in that belief that they can win, but they don’t know that until they have an attorney that can help them come to terms with that reality.
It depends on the field, but let’s say this is a criminal attorney, then it should say something like this:
“No stone is left unturned to get you acquitted as soon as possible, we instill fear and respect to the prosecutors that do not care if you are innocent or guilty, who just want another win under their belt”
Followed by some statistics of how many people are in jail, that shouldn’t be, because of a bad defense.
Now, in law, there are different rules, and lawyers do not like to infer that they can get people off if they are guilty, but if someone is innocent or believes that they have been treated unfairly, as most criminals do, then the mindset that they have, when they first hire an attorney, is “who will recognize that I was treated unfairly, and work that to my advantage?” They don’t care how respected the attorney is, or how much experience they have, getting people plea deals, they want a shark. Someone who will fight for them as if they were innocent, and leave no stone unturned to make sure they get an advantage.
It’s an apt example because it perfectly illustrates the basic concern of most people. “What’s in it for me?”
Which leads us to the next point.
2. Am I employing the “Benefits vs Features” rule properly?
This is where the “Benefits Vs Features” marketing comes in. Basically, it is based on the notion that customers care about themselves, not how great you are. They don’t care about what your products or services can do, they care about what it can do for them.
Notice in the lawyer example above, speaks in a language that the potential client is interested in, but that also states the benefit of having someone that is respected in law (they are feared by prosecutors).
So when we talk about benefits vs features we are talking about the difference between technical language and user/client language. There are many articles on this, but to be brief, when you have a “Features” list, you want to rewrite it to be a “Benefits” to the customer, list.
|10 lb Sandbag||Will keep tents up to 20ft x 20ft from blowing away to keep you having to run to the store 30 minutes before your cookout|
|Trained and Certified Technicians||Having trained and certified technicians allow them to get in an out quickly to fix your problem, saving you time lost and money|
|Quad-Core CPU – Computer Processor||Allows you to run multiple programs on your computer at once without getting slowed down so you can play solitaire while you sit in your 3rd video conference of the day|
|Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products||Have a clean house and feel good that you are not contributing to pollution, nor poisoning your kids or your pets.|
|4G Internet||Faster internet connection to get you home quickly when you are lost!|
If you look at each of the examples above, you can see that the feature is just a specification about a product or service, and the benefit is the result of that product or service that the customer will get.
If you follow your feature, or what you believe to be a benefit, all the way down to what the end result or feeling will be, now you have the benefit to the customer, from their perspective.
Another good way of putting this is to make the customer the hero of the story for choosing you, not YOU the hero to the story. Things like “We are the best…” is nowhere near as effective as “Be the best by hiring us…” making them the hero for hiring you, or buying your product. Beer commercials have this down. Bud Light isn’t the hero of the story when the guy walks in with the 30 pack, the guy is, he is cheered and put up on shoulders, he’s the hero of the story… for bringing Bud Light.
If you are selling a service, especially B2B this is also very important. Say the potential client is an IT person at a company that is tasked with finding a new outsourced IT Security firm. What is he most concerned with? Not making a mistake. He wants to find the best company, for the best price, and he wants to be the hero to his boss that effectively found the right company for the job.
Which marketing message do you think will be more effective for that person:
Message 1: We provide tier 3 support and have won 3 awards in digital security
Message 2: Our tier 3 support has helped countless IT departments become a leader in security. In fact we won 3 awards on behalf of our clients
Message 2 makes the client a hero. It is much easier for that IT person to see themselves as the hero of this story and reach out.
3. Am I speaking in terms of “Fears and Passions”?
Now that we have a basis for the content we have on our website or marketing materials, we also need to know why people decide to buy.
There are several videos, books and articles that have helped narrow my vision on this, but I think a lot of them have it wrong. The general idea is that people buy things based on needs and wants. If they need something, they will buy it, if they want something they will buy it, but I think one of the best talks about this subject was a video by Cliff Ennico, from S.C.O.R.E. He puts it in a very well thought out way (video below) and he basically breaks it down like this;
People do not (usually) buy things because they need them or want them. They buy them because they are emotionally motivated to do so or to put it another way, they are passionate about it on some level.
Think of something you need right now that you have not bought. For me, it is a new belt. I can easily go on Amazon and have one delivered to my door. My very last one is falling apart and I use it for work, for gardening, for mowing the lawn, it does not match anything and is now certainly destroyed. Yet I have not taken the time to go to the store, or on Amazon, and get another belt.
For Cliff, his example was a Will. He is an attorney, so he knows he needs a Will, he wants a Will, and since he doesn’t do Will’s he frequently sends those clients to lawyers who will draw up a Will, and therefore has gotten many offers to do one for free. So why do I still need a belt and Cliff still need a Will even though we need them, and in my case, I really do WANT a new belt or several?
It is because it is not something that we are passionate about.
What I mean about passion is, it is not something that motivates us. So what motivates us?
Think the 7 deadly sins.
- Pride – This is the vanity in people, to look, feel, and be better than others
- Envy – The desire to be like others, or have what they have, a nicer car, a bigger house, look taller
- Gluttony – The desire to consume more than you need – food, material items, even relationships
- Lust – Pleasures of the body, looking to feel attractive, and have others be attracted
- Wrath – Outward feeling of anger towards others and things, political motivations
- Greed – Hoarding wealth, banking, tax havens
- Sloth – Avoidance of work, finding ways to make the job easier
These are all passions. There are entire industries built off of most of these. Sports cars, perfumes, stock markets, get rich quick schemes, porn, and on and on.
There is one more passion that is very important and often used. It is fear. Fear is used a lot in conjunction with one of these. The fear of missing out “limited time offer”. The fear of not being good enough “look better with this product”.
Adding pieces of these attributes to your “Benefits” or at least keeping them in mind, will greatly help you sell your products or services. You want to motivate these instincts in people to make them passionate about whatever your offer is.
A cleaning service can appeal with a benefit by offering to save time for someone so they can spend more time with their kids, appealing to sloth and speaking toward an end result (benefit) of getting to spend more time doing something they would rather be doing, and that they consider more valuable than doing it themselves.
4. Am I executing this digitally and visually?
Of course, the last thing is how to build up this passion in your clients. Since we specialize in digital media, I will talk about that, but you can apply these things to mailers and email as well.
Go through your website and find your features list. I will stick with a cleaning company for this example.
Here is a list off a local company’s features:
What We Offer
We provide recurring cleaning service and one time clean-ups for both commercial and residential properties.
- General Recurring Service
- One Time Deep Cleaning
- Window Washing
- Post Construction Cleaning
- Floor Scrubbing And Waxing
Notice that this just lists off some features. Not even really unique features, I mean does any residential cleaning service NOT scrub your floor? Or NOT do a one-time cleaning?
Using the principles above this is how I would display this section. I would take each point an make it its own icon feature set, maybe with an icon, a title and a brief description:
New Title: Make Your Life Easier And Spend Your Energy On Things That Matter
- Ongoing peace of mind with our weekly or monthly cleaning service
- Our one-time deep clean will have you starting fresh
- Our spotless window cleaning will have you feeling like you are in a brand new house
- We scrub and wax your floor so you don’t have to
Notice how each point is playing on some aspect of a passion. Sloth, Envy, and Pride. The idea is to try to make them feel like they would when they hire you. To imagine what it would be like, or how it would feel. In this case, to have a clean house and not be exhausted afterward. Now they can do more with the kids, or partner, or get more done. There are a lot of ways to get the potential client to think in a way consistent with how they will feel AFTER they purchase your service or product. They will associate that good feeling with you and are more likely to take action.