by David Tandet

Emphasizing benefits over features is a basic marketing principle that’s easy to forget. Invest three seconds and you’ll remember to apply it.

Many of you are familiar with the marketing principle that it is better to emphasize benefits rather than features.

Do you remember to use it?

I treasure three seconds that will always remind me to emphasize benefits. I’m betting three seconds will do the same for you.

The Rule

To review: features are physical facts of your product or service. Benefits describe what a customer can gain from the product or service.

A manufacturer might fall in love with the technology that creates peripheral vision mirrors (feature). A driver will remember the image of someone’s life being saved when a shopper backs out of a parking space (benefit).

An Unforgettable Image

I came across an old article in Rediff News titled What’s an iPod? The Lowdown. It took me three seconds to read Krish Iyer’s line: “Your iPod is like clay which can be modeled into anything you like.”

Forget that the article was supposed to be a review and not a marketing piece.

Iyer’s review continues, “This means that, since the iPod is just memory space or a hard drive we can use a lot of applications on it . . . as long as it is compatible with the device.”

It’s irrelevant for our purposes that the article goes on to describe items that have been around for a while.

The image of a substance as simple and malleable as clay doing all these wonderful things stuck with me.

Of course the product has to live up to the promise. But somehow I’ll always visualize that clay media player’s customized benefits that I shaped with no fuss.

Benefits win big.

Hear, See, Feel: Your Choice

What makes this image super-useful is that you can easily personalize it to the way you most effectively process information. The image will be with you next time you write copy to promote a product or service.

Try three quick techniques. One will work best for you:

• Hear: Listen to the music coming out of the soft clay in your hands. Connect your earphones. Imagine turning up the volume.

• See: Look at the clay. Can you see a video jump off the screen in front of you? Close your eyes. Let it sink in.

• Feel: Touch the cool sticky clay as you adjust the volume.

Now Stick It!

Remember to take some of that imaginary clay and stick it on your computer screen next time you begin a piece. Then imagine a bit of clay stuck to a consumer’s hands and eyes every time he or she reads, hears, or sees your marketing material.

You’ll never forget to write copy that, like Iyer’s image of clay, expertly conveys the benefits of your product or service.

Go Forth and Demonstrate Benefits

I hope the three seconds it took you to read Iyer’s line — “Your iPod is like clay that can be modeled into anything you like” — put that image of a pliable hi-tech device in your head forever.

Whatever brand of portable media player you use, the thought of customized clay will help you market your product or service in the most effective manner possible.

Post filed under Foundations of Marketing, Marketing Communications, Sales Gold, Writing Tips.