Search Results for: sme

Marketing writing: why features smell and benefits sell

Time and time again I look through all my posts here on HTWB and see references to the old “features and benefits” issue in marketing and commercial business writing. But still, people ask me what I mean, how it works, why it matters, etc.

A long time ago in one of my earlier books, articles, blog posts et al about marketing writing (and in subsequent ones) I came up with this rather clumsy phrase which despite it containing a rhyme – surprisingly – many people have taken up with a smile and much gusto:

FEATURES SMELL. BENEFITS SELL

Why is this so relevant when it comes to writing for marketing or even other, less sales-focused business writing?

Because it’s true (OK, metaphorically.)

In many ways I feel guilty even posting about this topic on here when the “features versus benefits” issue has been wallowing around in marketing and advertising circles for not only years, not only decades, not only generations, but probably not short of centuries now, too.

But still, there are some people who don’t understand the difference. And many of these are people who are trying to market products and services into an increasingly complex and, indeed, overworked marketplace in which folks are so bloody tired of hearing about features, they just want to scream. Why?

FEATURES ARE WHAT A PRODUCT OR SERVICE IS.

BENEFITS ARE WHAT IT DOES FOR YOU, THE PURCHASER.

BENEFITS SELL IT. FEATURES ON THEIR OWN DO NOT.

Easy. Yet why are so many marketing exercises blighted by the features virus, when it ain’t so hard to turn a feature into a benefit which actually does stand a cat’s chance in hell of selling your product or service fairly and squarely?

Here’s how to do it

I’ll go back to a pretty basic example, once again extracted from one of my earlier books (I don’t do complicated, OK?) Here we’re talking about a garden chair:

Feature: AL-alloy metal frame with HK-147 PVC compound, polyurethane seat and back rest

Benefit: You can relax in comfort knowing that its sturdy frame and durable seat back are not only comfortable, but also that they’ll last for many years

Feature: Fade-proof coating withstands sun and heat up to 35°C constant for 72 hours. Factory tested for efficacy

Benefit: Looks good for years to come even in strong sun and sizzling summer temperatures, thanks to fade-proof, factory-tested coating

Feature: Delivered in flat pack with full assembly instructions. Pack suitable for long-term storage prior to assembly.

Benefit: Arrives in convenient pack for you to store for the winter… then assemble in minutes, ready for spring!

But what if features are objectives, not nuts and bolts?

No problem. You simply apply the same criteria to the objectives as if they were nuts and bolts: what’s in it for the recipient? Some examples…

If you want to inform people (feature), their benefit is that they increase their own knowledge resource.

If you want to train people (feature), their benefit is that is improves their skills and abilities to do their jobs better and gain skills which will be useful for them in their future.

If you need to rebuke people (feature), their benefit is to understand that no-one’s perfect but you can learn to overcome a problem and so be better at your job.

If you want to entertain people (feature), their benefit is to feel appreciated and valued.

If you want to energize/motivate people (feature), their benefit is to see why it’s worth their while to go the extra mile and be recognized for it.

And how does this fit in with current 21st century “marketing think?”

Answer: it fits right in there so tight it can’t even squeak. Just as it always has where marketing and – let’s face – a great deal more in the way of business communication is concerned. No matter how much old advertising and branding strategies have been dissolved by the here, now, up-your-nose (and very welcome) nature of online marketing in particular, the old features versus benefits issue hasn’t changed one tiny jot.

So if you need to write for marketing or even more general purposes, remember my clumsy little mnemonic

FEATURES SMELL. BENEFITS SELL.

Make sure your marketing writing sells, not smells:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

Writing for business in the third-age: old? No, new.

People in the “third-age” who are running businesses are not old f*rts. In fact many of them are new entrepreneurs.

When I go home to Canada every summer I work a lot with my good friend and colleague Trudy Van Buskirk – a stalwart women-in-business coach and networker, founder of a number of online and offline business networking groups in Toronto. And just to make the challenge a bit more interesting she also a) is the wrong side of 60 and b) has disabilities.

Writing for business for third-age entrepreneurs on HTWB

Thanks to the internet it’s very easy for anyone of any age to keep bang up to date with their chosen business or industry.

What has struck me over the last few years of leading blogging and business writing workshops for Trudy and her clients are the high levels of energy, enthusiasm, business acumen, hunger for further learning and downright grit that all of these people pour into their businesses. [Read more…]

Due to make a wedding speech soon? Don’t get caught with your pants down

Are you due to make a speech at a wedding soon? You may not have noticed, but the wedding season in the northern hemisphere is taking off big-time. The wedding where you’re speaking may be just around the corner…

wedding speeches reminder on HTWB

Due to make a speech at a wedding this summer? Don’t get caught at the last minute with your pants down…

So: have you thought about your speech yet? What you’re going to say? What – depending on your role in the wedding party – you are supposed to say? No?

OK, here is a quick reminder based on what I wrote last year – suitably updated – to help you folks get your wedding speech safeguards in place … even at the last minute! [Read more…]

Local advertisers: stop writing we-wee and start getting a decent ROI

Just over three years ago we published about the we-weeing problem in marketing material, and much as most pro writers like me bang on about it, it’s still raging away.

Local advertisers we-weeing on their customers HTWB

This historic little guy, Manneken Pis, has been we-weeing on people in Brussels, Belgium for 400 years. Fortunately this is good, for his business.

The reason why I am throwing the toys out of my pram this time is because I feel sorry for the ever-constant stream of local magazines that set up in all good faith, sell advertising space to local businesses, and go out of business themselves within a couple of years.

Why? Here’s my theory and it’s not their fault … it’s the fault of the we-wee local advertisers who, because they we-wee, don’t get the results they should from their advertising and so eventually abandon the local magazines as not cost-effective. Naughty, naughty and frankly, bloody ignorant.

Local advertisers: stop writing about how wonderful you are

(NB: After my rant, you’ll find 10 Tips on how to do it right, below!) [Read more…]

Write about solutions, not problems. People don’t buy problems.

Your readers’ problems are very important, of course. But writing about those at any length isn’t going to endear you to them.
They know they have problems. Yes, part of your remit when you’re writing marketing material is to understand those problems very well. But …
write about solutions not problems on HWTB…then, shut up about them.
People don’t buy problems. They buy solutions. 
How do you resolve that conundrum? Read on. [Read more…]

Copywriting: how to write a powerful USP that attracts customers and prospects

Especially – but not only – if you run an SME business, do you know how to express your “USP?” (Unique Selling Proposition/Point?) And do you know why your USP is so important to support your brand?

how to write a powerful USP on HTWB

Is your USP about what you do, or what you can do for your customers?

Recently this topic came up at a very lively regular business networking meeting I attend and I was surprised that some members of the group hadn’t really considered either a) the importance of a USP for any business or b) what it should be based on. Here, then, are some tips on how to identify yours and make it work for your business. [Read more…]

css.php