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Galvanizing Buyers with Benefits

by Marcia Yudkin

A nutritional supplement seller says his product's uniqueness consists in its containing a "broad-spectrum, sustained-release antioxidant." A venture capitalist says his uniqueness is a headquarters in Vermont rather than Manhattan. A consultant attributes her uniqueness to delivering advice in three-hour rather than one-hour sessions.

All these claims, I'm sure, are true. But something essential is missing from each. What advantage does the buyer get from these peculiarities? Your uniqueness generates action only when you translate what's so about your business into a "So what?" for those interested in your product or service.

In traditional terms, you must translate the features of your business into benefits for the buyer to awaken skeptical, yawning prospects. This exercise is deceptively difficult and amazingly powerful. Most business owners are too immersed in their seller/provider point of view to switch easily to the perceptions of their customers. But once they get their marketing statements to pass the "So what?" test, readers of their revamped brochures, press releases and sales letters rise up and buy at startling rates.


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Let's analyze the examples above.

Many nutritional supplements customers don't understand what's so great about a product being "broad-spectrum" and "sustained release" -- not to mention being confused what "anti-oxidants" can do for them. People who want to stay young-looking and healthy will respond better upon learning that this substance helps stall the aging process and prevent degenerative diseases, in a formulation that the body absorbs quickly and that keeps on working for a long time.

For the venture capitalist, being headquartered in Vermont means that he looks more favorably on some unconventional ventures than others, that he's more approachable than big- city competitors and that with low overhead, he can consider smaller deals than other firms. All of this, spelled out, would help attract the offbeat clients he envisioned when he moved to the country.

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I'm not sure the consultant who delivers three-hour sessions has a rationale for why longer stints benefit her clients. If it led to faster resolutions, or deeper insights, or saved them money, those would be valid benefits. Asking "So what?" of her, I came up with "So nothing." The consultant invested a lot of energy and resources in believing that her uniqueness represents a marketing advantage. But until she can say what that is, her outreach to customers remains on shaky footing.

To perform this exercise yourself, divide a sheet of paper in half lengthwise and write each major fact about your product or service in the left-hand column and in the right-hand column, name the benefit of each fact. For instance, what's the benefit of Saturday and evening appointments? Convenience; clients don't squander personal job time for appointments during business hours.

Spelled-out benefits reach deep inside of people, where they feel their needs and become motivated to act. After completing this chart, you have the ingredients for marketing materials that generate telephone calls, appointments and checks in your mailbox.

Learn From the Masters of Straight-Talk Copywriting
In 2013 and 2014, Marcia Yudkin convened the most articulate and experienced practitioners of no-hype copywriting for an exchange of ideas on writing copy that persuades without excessive showmanship or stretching the truth.  Presenters included Peter Bowerman, Nick Usborne, Shel Horowitz, Karon Thackston and others. Order the recordings from this telesummit.

Copyright 2009 Marcia Yudkin.  All rights reserved.

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