In order to take the features of your product or service and turn them into benefits your prospects will value, want, and feel strongly about, you must not merely understand their viewpoint, but rather, you must get inside their head to know how they think, listen to their conversations, understand their frustrations, and really become one of them. Remember, people do not buy what they need; they buy what they want and what they connect with.
Sounds like some kind of existential-Zen exercise doesn’t it? Well, the good news is, that although it’s not always easy, it can be done by following these 6 simple steps.
In this exercise I am going to say product but if you sell a service, simply substitute the word service for product. Keep in mind, features are the parents of benefits. So let’s start at the beginning with your product’s features.
Create a Features’ Inventory:
Every product has features. You must first identify all the features contained in your product. Create a spread sheet with the following 6 column headings:
Features – Why – Benefits – Dimensionalize – Dominant Emotions – Rank
List the key facts about the business and/or the product you are going to sell or promote in the features column.
- Purpose: What, exactly does your product do? If it does several things, list everything you can think of that it offers.
- As an example, if you were talking about a car, you might list all of these features: engine size, rear-end ratio, number of passengers, color, 6 CD changer, sound system, GPS, size, dimensions, curb weight, performance metrics, mileage, top speed, etc.
- Credibility: Insert testimonials, guarantees, comparisons to the competition , etc.
- Options: What additional choices are available?
- Pricing: Are you higher or lower than your competition and do you care?
Next ask Why? This step forces you to figure out why each of these features is included in your product. Attach as many why’s to each feature as you can. For example:
- Engine size: Large = plenty of power; small = saves on gas
- Number of passengers: Carries seven adults in comfort.
- Carbon Fiber Construction: Never rusts; curb weight is lighter; therefore gets better mileage.
Benefits: After completing steps 1 and 2, you will find yourself with a comprehensive list of not merely the features of your product but also the reasons those features are there. It is now time to bring your prospect into the picture. In Zig Ziglar’s speeches he often talks about the radio station that plays in all our heads all the time: WIIFM – What’s In It For Me? This is the central question we have to answer next. How do these features directly connect with me (the prospect) and how will they help improve my life?
In the Why column, take each feature and think about every possible way they bring value to your prospect’s life. Ask what’s in it for me (them) and answer by listing all the problems your product solves, and/or the future disasters it helps them avoid.
Remember, people will spend a lot of money to eliminate the pain they feel right now, whatever that is. It is far harder to sell a solution that avoids a problem in the future than it is to erase “pain” immediately. For example:
- Bad Copy: Change your oil today and avoid a costly ring job in the future.
- Good Copy: If you schedule your oil change today, we guarantee you will be in and out in less than 30 minutes or it’s free! Remember, doing this now will help avoid a costly repair in the future.
- Write each benefit as a “you” statement. i.e. Our product saves “you” time; our service saves “you” money.
Go back and re-examine each benefit and ask what additional benefits does this bring to my life? Keep drilling down until you hit the most important and valuable, life-changing benefit you can find.
“Dimensionalize” each benefit. Give added dimension to each benefit. Paint a word picture that shows all the ways a prospect will enjoy that benefit. For example:
- Do you need an oil change but you just don’t seem to have time? If you come in between 8-10 each morning this week, we will not only change your oil and give your vehicle a free, 21 point safety check, but we will drive you to work AND deliver your car to you after lunch. No wasted time sitting in a waiting room!
- Show every way it will enrich the prospect’s life.
- Connect each “dimensionalized” benefit with a dominant, resident emotion. Use the “dimensionalized” benefit as the Anchor and the dominant emotion as the Twist.
- List as many emotions that come to mind. Then later, listen carefully to your customers to see if they connect different emotions to the benefits. As an example, if they’re buying new tires:
- Big benefit = safety
- “Dimensionalized” benefit = feeling confident when your wife is driving the kids during a snow storm.
- The dominant emotion = pride/confidence, knowing you have done all you can to protect your family.
Finally, rank each benefit’s emotional connection on a scale of 0-4.
Use the following criteria to help decide their rank: Relative importance of the improvement they will receive in their lives. (Think of selling a dietary supplement to help eliminate pain and swelling from arthritis.)
- You’ll be able to open that jar of jelly without asking for help.
- Remember how much you enjoyed gardening. Imagine being able to kneel down to plant a new flower without pain.
- Relative number or prospects who will covet that improvement.
- Keep in mind that if your product solves more than one problem, let’s say a supplement that helps with arthritis AND lowers blood pressure, you want to stress the issue that the largest number of prospects will covet.
- Relative intensity of the emotion. Which response would a menopausal woman whose sleep is disturbed from night sweats be more likely to utter:
- Bad Emotional Appeal: I’m tired of riding a hormone-driven roller coaster!
- Good Emotional Appeal: What can I do to stop these night sweats!
If you can’t imagine yourself waking up and saying what ever it is you’ve written in your headline, the odds are, neither will your prospects. You’ll need to change your headline to express the most powerful emotional trigger.
Finally, sort the spread sheet by the ranking column and use the inventory to be certain that your sales/marketing copy is hitting every emotional hot button possible.