There's a hard truth about marketing: People don't care about businesses (and that includes your business).
What they care about is how your business's products or services can solve THEIR problems, meet THEIR needs and make THEIR lives easier.
In other words, you need to explain the benefits of your product or service, not the features.
So what do I mean by features and benefits. Features are the attributes about your product or service. (For instance, the features of my business are I provide copywriting and marketing services.)
Benefits are what the customer will receive from your products or services. (For instance, the benefits of my business are my customers will sell more of their products or services when they hire me.)
That's the secret behind effective marketing -- explaining benefits rather than features. But if you want to go beyond effective to amazing, then you need to add a spark.
You need to get creative.
One characteristic of creative people is their ability to look at the same thing everyone else is looking at and see something different. How can you learn to do that? Try these mind-twisting exercises.
1. Sit down with a sheet of paper. Write down the name of a product or service.
2. Write down a list of all the features of the product or service.
3. Now change all those features to benefits.
Still not sure how to write benefits? Start with this sentence construction "You will receive BENEFIT because of this FEATURE." Like so:
You'll save money because our product needs less fuel to run.
Or ask the question why is this feature important? Why would somebody want this feature?
4. Now push the envelope. Here are four ways to do this:
* Keep asking why. Your product saves customers' money?
Why would your customers want to save money? What else do they have to spend their money on? Maybe they want to spend money. Why would they want to spend more money than they have to? Silliness is encouraged. (Actually for all of these mind-bending exercises, silliness and outrageousness is what you should be aiming for.)
* Change benefits.
What if your product increased your customers' sex appeal rather than saved them money? What would that be like? Or maybe it improves their health? Or enhances popularity? What would that be like? How could you twist the features of your product to match a completely different benefit?
Brainstorm a list of benefits to play around with as another creativity exercise.
* Put two completely different benefits together.
Save time and make you more loved. Improve health and avoid trouble. Avoid effort and gain praise. See how many connections you can make between those two different benefits.
* Reverse benefits.
Maybe your product doesn't save time but takes more time. Why would that be a good thing? Why would someone want to spend MORE time doing something? What are the benefits of something taking more time?
Here's an example of how this works:
Let's say my company produces a product that saves customers time. I'm reversing the benefit, so the customer doesn't want to save time.
Why wouldn't the customer want to save time? Well, maybe if he had more time on his hands he would have to work on those home-improvement projects he's been putting off because he's so busy. Or now he feels like he can't justify hiring someone to do those home-improvement projects because he's not so busy anymore. Or now he's run out of excuses and has to spend a week with his in-laws.
By questioning, challenging and reversing, you start to look at benefits in a whole different way. You may come up with a killer ad campaign, realize you've overlooked a segment of your target market, or uncover new benefits for your old product. You may even discover a new product or improvements to your existing product that would make it a huge seller.
Michele Pariza Wacek owns Creative Concepts and Copywriting, a writing, marketing and creativity agency. She offers two free e-newsletters that help subscribers combine their creativity with hard-hitting marketing and copywriting principles to become more successful at attracting new clients, selling products and services and boosting business. She can be reached at www.writingusa.com. Copyright 2003 Michele Pariza Wacek.
Marketing Plan Template:
A Marketing Plan is a written document that details the actions necessary to achieve a specified marketing objective(s). It can be for a product or service, a brand, or a product line. It can cover one year (referred to as an annual marketing plan), or cover up to 5 years. A marketing plan may be part of an overall business plan. In general terms, it must:
describe and explain the current situation
specify the expected results (objectives)
identify the resources that will be needed (including financing, time, and skills)
describe the actions that will need to be taken to achieve the objective(s)
devise a method of monitoring results and adjusting the plan where necessary
There are many formats for marketing plans and every company does it a little different, but the outline that follows is a very complete format. Using this format will produce a 30 to 40 page plan. Many companies prefer an abridged format that would yield a 10 to 20 page plan.
# Title page
# Executive Summary
# Current Situation - Macroenvironment
# supply chain
# Current Situation - Market Analysis
# market definition
# market size
# market segmentation
# industry structure and strategic groupings
# Porter 5 forces analysis
# competition and market share
# competitors' strengths and weaknesses
# market trends
# Current Situation - Consumer Analysis
# nature of the buying decision
# buyer motivation and expectations
# loyalty segments
# Current Situation - Internal
# company resources
# mission statement and vision statement
# corporate objectives
# financial objective
# marketing objectives
# long term objectives
# corporate culture
# Summary of Situation Analysis
# external threats
# external opportunities
# internal strengths
# internal weaknesses
# key success factors in the industry
# our sustainable competitive advantage
# Marketing research
# information requirements
# research methodology
# research results
# Marketing Strategy - Product
# product mix
# product strengths and weaknesses
# perceptual mapping
# product life cycle management and new product development
# Brand name, brand image, and brand equity
# the augmented product
# product portfolio analysis
# B.C.G. Analysis
# contribution margin analysis
# G.E. Multi Factoral analysis
# Quality Function Deployment
# Marketing Strategy - Market share objectives
# by products,
# by customer segments,
# by geographical markets
# Marketing Strategy - Price
# pricing objectives
# pricing method (eg.: cost plus, demand based, or competitor indexing)
# pricing strategy (eg.: skimming, or penetration)
# discounts and allowances
# price elasticity and customer sensitivity
# price zoning
# break even analysis at various prices
# Marketing Strategy - Promotion
# promotional goals
# promotional mix
# advertising reach, frequency, flights, theme, and media
# sales force requirements, techniques, and management
# sales promotion
# publicity and public relations
# electronic promotion (eg.: Web, or telephone)
# Marketing Strategy - Distribution
# geographical coverage
# distribution channels
# physical distribution and logistics
# electronic distribution
# personnel requirements
# assign responsibilities
# give incentives
# training on selling methods
# financial requirements
# management information systems requirements
# month-by-month agenda
# pert or critical path analysis
# monitoring results and benchmarks
# adjustment mechanism
# contingencies (What if's)
# Financial Summary
# pro-forma monthly income statement
# contribution margin analysis
# breakeven analysis
# Monte Carlo analysis
# pictures and specifications of the new product
# results from research already completed
See also: marketing, marketing management, strategic management, business plan
Article reprinted with permission from Strategic Services. All rights reserved.
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