Beyond Features and Benefits: Make Your Story Compelling

Adding New Clients

Does this describe your potential customers?

“You have the attention span of a goldfish”.

“Life is being lived 144 characters at a time”.

“You’re competing with cat videos”.

It’s pretty obvious that we live in a time where people are more distracted than ever.

This should never be far from your mind, in fact I would state that it’s absolutely critical when writing about your products and services.

Because, nobody really cares about why your company is awesome.

What they do care about is…

How you Make your Customer’s Lives Easier or Better 

When you really get down to converting a prospect into a customer, the majority of that decision is going to depend on how you talk to them.  At the highest level, this means communicating the features and benefits you offer.

When you break down any offer, there are 3 sets of data that you need to tell your prospect before; features, benefits, and the transformation (how it makes their life easier or better).

If any of them are missing, the internal tripwire (BS detector) that each of us have internalized will go off, and they will click that little X and they’re gone.

Additionally, it is quite natural for you to think about your offer generally in this order:

  • The features of your offer
  • The benefits of your offer
  • The transformation your offer delivers (most never get to this step)

By progressing through your offer in this order, the information will flow and you’ll end up with a nice clean message and story that you can present to your prospect.

The most powerful of the 3 focus areas is the transformation, and where I recommend you spend most of your time.

What does transformation actually mean?

I’ll get to that, but first.  Do you believe that your customers just buy the product or service you provide?  Or, is that just the story we tell ourselves as business owners.

Get Into the Mind of Your Buyer

When you have a conversation with a prospective buyer, a prospect, you get to read their body language.  You hear voice inflection, both good and bad.  You can tell when they’re interested, and when your’ve off the mark.

That doesn’t happen when you’re on a web page, email, tweet, Facebook post, or any of the other amazing media channels we now have at our disposal.

This requires a change to your thinking.

If you don’t build your content while you’re thinking about a specific person, your ideal customer, you may end up talking about a sports car to a soccer mom.  That is not a conversation that will help you convert a prospect into a buyer.

NOTE:  If you haven’t built your Ideal Customer.  Grab this Free worksheet and knock it out!

Here’s another question, does your customer do all their research, make an educated decision, and then purchase the most logical choice?

Sometimes… maybe…probably not.

Or, is this scenario just as likely.

Your prospect decides they want something, and then they use the specifications to justify their buying choice?

Put another way, most people actually buy on emotion, and use the features and benefits to confirm or defend the choice they made.

For example, in real estate there’s plenty of evidence that the entry to the home is the MOST critical room in the whole house.  Then the buyer uses the rest of the house to defend the initial conclusion they drew when they entered the house.

An initial emotional reaction, then ALL the rest of the information is used to confirm their position.

What Story do you want to tell?

“Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer’s mind.” – Robert Collier

This quote, from the Robert Collier Letter Book, is often repeated because it makes a complex topic very simple.

Another way to look at this principle is, what is the story your customer is telling themselves?

The better that you can tell THAT story, the better your business will do.

Your customers will follow a sequence, and you need to understand that in order to put the right information in front of them at the right time.  That’s what your customer journey map is used for.

This goes beyond just documenting and providing the features and benefits of your offer.

Pay Attention to the Junk you used to Ignore

In any industry there are leaders.  The really great thing about competition is that it allows you to learn from other businesses that are having success.

  • Pay attention to how they message.
  • Get another email account and opt in to their email list.
  • Like their Facebook or Twitter Page

Take what you and, apply what you’re seeing and experiencing to your business.

The proof is in the numbers.  That crazy junk mail, the ads you see from the same companies on Facebook.  Businesses don’t throw money away.

Pay attention.  If you’re seeing ads and advertising from a company over and over, it’s making them a positive return on investment (ROI).  What can you learn from other businesses, even ones that are not your competition.  If you present a different image to your customers than your competition and other companies similar to you, that’s usually a good thing.  In a world of beige, be a color!

You may never look at junk mail the same again…

Let’s take a look at an example.

Are they really selling the Car?

Pretty much everyone has at least one car.  Most families have more than one.

I’m sure that each family had a really good reason(s) for buying the vehicle they bought.  I’m also positive that when you bought your car, you had good reasons too.

There’s a story that’s being told here, and honestly it’s not about the car.

  • How many SUV’s actually go off road?
  • How many pickups are actually used to haul, or tow?
  • Who NEEDS an $80,000 car to commute?

The point here is that if I sold a car based upon your need for a car, a basic Honda Accord would more than meet that need.

So, there must be more to it…right?

One of the cars that I see and go..ooohhhh about is the BMW 650i.  It’s a really nice car (and not one that I’ll be buying any time soon).

So, in the name of quality research, I looked it up.

Document the Features of your Product or Service?

What do you see on the picture?

Features

It’s the specs, right.  It’s the features for the car.  The engine specs, along with the 0-60 and the horsepower.

It’s just a portion off one page, but anybody looking for a car is going to want to see the specifications (features) for the car they’re interested.

After all, without this it’s very difficult to do any kind of comparison to another vehicle.

But, here’s the interesting point.  This screen.  The one with the 650i specifications.   It wasn’t the first thing I found on the BMW site.  It wasn’t the second, or even the forth.  I had to dig way down into the site before I found the pages that provided the specifications  (features).

It’s not that they’re not important, they are.  Remember, you have to provide this information, or your prospect’s BS detector goes off.

The Features are not the first thing you want to present, in fact, they’re probably the last.

Document the Features of your Offer

The features are the fact based pieces or your offer.

Write out all the features for your product or service.  Tell them what they’re going to get when they buy.   You’re creating your spec sheet, your features.

Now, save it and put it aside.  We’ll come back to it after we get everything else documented.

Write Down Your Benefits?

Now that you understand features.  We need to talk about benefits.  This can get confusing for people, so I’m going to try and break-it-down.

A benefit is simply answers the question, “what’s in it for me” (from your customer’s perspective) for each feature.

Benefit #1: Seductive Style

What do you see? Do you see the text or the picture?

Benefit #1

We’re no longer talking about the features or the facts.

Is “Seductive Style” a benefit of owning a BMW 650i?

Depends if you are BMW’s ideal customer.  Given how many BMW’s I see in LA and Washington DC, I’d say that benefit it connecting with their audience.

Benefit #2: Astounding Power

Benefit #2

Now, this benefit is definitely aligned with their spec sheet, with their features.  It’s also very obvious.  Feature 4.4 liter twin turbo, 445 hp = astounding power.

When you can connect directly with the facts of your offer, it’s pretty straight forward.

 Benefit #3: Driver Focused

Benefit #3

This benefit is not quite as obvious.  They are changing the story here.  Up to now, they have been talking about the Car.  Power, perception, perhaps status.

This benefit brings the focus back to you as the driver.  It implies that each car is tailored to you, instead of a mass-produced, off the assembly-line vehicle that’s just transportation.

It’s a soft benefit, but it definitely is aimed at BMW’s Avatar.

Document the Benefits of your Offer

Your turn. Get out the features document you just wrote.

For each feature (fact), what is the benefit it provides?
What’s in it for your customer?

Selling the Transformation

Now it’s time for the big finale.  You have your features, your benefits, and now we’re ready to sum it all up for you customer.

Let’s look at the entry screen (or landing page) for the 6 Series BMW.

What do you see?

Transformation Example

Read the copy on the image, “LUXURY WITH A EDGE”.

They put you into the future.  To a place where IF you owned this car, you would have “luxury with an edge”.

Then they touch on some of the benefits that that car provides their target audience.

Do you see any specs about cylinders?  Horse power? Gas mileage? How about tire size?  Extra seats perhaps? 0-60?

….Nope…

All they do is paint the picture of what the customer’s life would be like with this car.   They “transform” the car owning experience.

“Curves that captivate” =  Benefit.

“Power the astounds” = Benefit.

The primary BMW message is, “The Ultimate Driving Machine”.

So, what are they selling?

An experience!

Document the Transformation of your Offer

You’ve now built your features, and benefits. Now, it’s time to think about the transformation your offer delivers to your avatar.

I like to say enjoy the journey.  Resist the urge to talk moving from A to B.

Think about what your avatar’s life will be like after they’re done with your product or service..

Here are a couple of off-the-cuff potentials:

  • Real Estate Agent, “BBQ’s, Naps, and Entertainment on your schedule”.
  • Elder Law Attorney, “Protection and Peace of mind”

For a service:

  • Guide or Travel Service, “Lifelong Memories”

Remember, that the transformation is about where they’ll be after they use your product or service.

Going Beyond Features and Benefits and Putting it Together

Now that you have built out your features, benefits, and the transformation your offer provides, it’s time to put it into a form that communicates this in a way that matters to your project.

You built the information in this order; features and benefits, then transformation.

When you put these on your web page, simply reverse the order.

  • Transformation:  What your prospect’s life will be like after they use your product or service
  • Benefits: The “what’s in it for me” that comes from your features.
  • Features: The fact’s and pieces that make up your offer.

Remember the BMW example.  Although we started talking about the Features of the car, that’s not how it’s presented.

Enjoy the journey!

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I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment below, and type “I made it”.

What was your transformation?