Benefits are to marketing what cheese is to pizza

Do you like pizza? I do. I love it and mostly because of the cheese.

I’m trying to write about content and since I can’t stop thinking about pizza, I’ll use this as an analogy.

Let me get back to the cheese, I mean content and the ‘raison d’etre’ for any marketing piece…

Key benefits

I love talking about benefits (not as much as pizza but it’s a staple in any marketing kit). Many brands, technical sales people and even some marketers talk about ‘specs, features, bells and whistles’.

Well, no one cares. Customers want cheese! They want benefits!

What are ‘key benefits’? They answer important questions, like:

  • How will this product/service make my life better?
  • What does this mean to me, emotionally?
  • Will this make me feel good?

I’m not sure if I’m making complete sense so to personify my point I’ll talk about cars. And I recently went through the painstaking agony of looking for and buying a new one!

The ads, the brochures, the sales people were talking about miles to the gallon, 1000 litres of boot space, 360 Nm of torque… I’m bored and I don’t care!

Fortunately some car brands are tapping into the idea of selling benefits and some are doing it brilliantly.

Benefits such as safety, fun, the experience of driving, creating an image of being different, status and so on.

These benefits capture our attention on the level of our emotional needs. Volvo is an example, they have done a good job of appealing to our fears (emotions) and showcasing a happy family travelling safely (benefit).

Next time you watch a TV commercial for a car, have a think about what emotion and benefit it’s playing on. What resonates with you? Why?

Here’s a challenge. I dare you write now to write down a list of ten benefits that your product or service offers your customers…. Go on, do it now….

Looking back at your benefits and keeping your ideal customer in mind, do these benefits really resonate with your target audience? If they do, great you can move on to create coherent messages, website copy, headlines and taglines etc.

If they don’t, you need to go back to the drawing board and be really honest with yourself.

Tips for speaking directly to your customer’s pain points

  • Ask questions. Asking the right questions can work really well to drive home the pain point / solution offered. You can lead with your key benefit in the answer.
  • Bullet point lists, being clear and concise. Clarity is power so never be afraid to use those bullet points!
  • Describe your customer’s pain point or the solution they’re trying to move towards and get real with them.

Here are some examples of these three methods in action:

If your website design, adverts, brochures and any other marketing collateral can highlight benefits in order of priority, your marketing will have a much higher return on investment.

Sense check time

With your benefits prepared and a method of writing selected, with your customer persona always front of mind it’s time to sense check.

  • Is the solution that you’re putting forward answering the pain or problem?
  • Is the solution truly benefiting your customer?
  • Can this benefit be understood in a single sentence or Tweet?
  • Does this benefit offer your customer something superior to what’s already on the market?  

Make sure that you are crystal clear about your benefits. Clarity is power and complexity is the enemy of execution.

Tasty toppings

And remember. No pizza is complete without toppings. Add personality and taste to your masterpiece, this is your chance to make your benefits captivating, compelling and interesting.

I’d equate the toppings to your ‘tone of voice’. We really want to get across how flavoursome your offering is and tantalise the taste buds.

Start out by writing a list of your brand values (not adjectives) – the character or principles of your brand. For example, quality, experience, trust, integrity….

Now think of adjectives that would be used to describe your ethos, personality and so on. Go wild and have this list at the ready for when you start writing copy.

Tell a story

Remember you can talk about dough, cheese and toppings or you can tell a story… Arriving in Rome on a warm summer evening, sitting outside a family restaurant in the shadow of the Colosseum enjoying a Capricciosa pizza and glass of crisp wine…

Stories invoke emotions and they’re memorable so create your story or a story of your clients.

You can work through these exercises and then hire a professional copywriter to help make the words polished or craft great stories.

This will really help to get a starting point down on paper as no one will ever know your business (and your customers) as well as you do.

Guest author : Sian Lenegan is a marketer and managing director of Sixth Story, a branding and digital agency. Sian’s focus is on helping businesses to ignite growth through the power of branding and connecting with audiences.

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