Saturday, March 28, 2009

Marketing Your Benefits - Not Your Features

Entirely too often, business owners forget a very simple concept, "People don't really care how you do it, they just want their problem to go away."

I work with a client who is, without a doubt, the best Carpet Cleaner in the Philadelphia Area - JMS Carpet Cleaning (@carpetjan on Twitter). He knows his chemicals, his processes, and is so committed to your carpet care, that he will do what ever he can to make and keep your carpets clean.

So I asked him the other day, what do your customers want? Do they want their carpets cleaned? Or do they want clean carpets?

It sounds like "six of one, half dozen of the other", but there is a difference. One is what JMS does, the other is what the customer gets. In other words, one is a feature, the other is a benefit. And the truth of the matter is, people don't buy features, they buy benefits.

The JMS staff knows carpet cleaning. Unfortunately, their perspective clients don't. So when they talk to them about Steam Extraction vs Dry Cleaning, or one chemical agent versus another, they might as well be speaking Greek. "Jane Average Homeowner" doesn't know, and honestly, deep inside, most don't care. In fact, a majority of consumers actually get lost when you overwhelm them with what you do - because they aren't as good at connecting what you do to what they want as you are.

What matters to JMS's perspective customers is that their carpets be cleaned for their party this weekend so they aren't embarrassed when the In-Laws come over. Or they want to make sure heir six month old baby, who is learning to crawl, is playing on germ-free, as well as visibly clean, carpets.

Rather than talking about all the chemicals used in the process or which machine will work best - the best thing that JMS Enterprises, and frankly anyone else, can do is to "sell" what the customers wants.

For example, if you are a flower shop, isn't it true that your customers are buying a the ability to show how much they care for someone - through flowers. Or, if you are a hair salon, isn't a true that your customers are looking to feel good about themselves? In both cases, the customer is expecting to get something specific and feel a certain way when the transaction is done - and that is rarely exactly what you provide.

So now, take a look at your own business and at your marketing materials. What are you "selling" to YOUR customers - features or benefits? How does this play out for you and your business? What are your features and what are the benefits of those features to your customers?


  1. You know JJ, I've heard the feature/benefit discussion more times than I care to hear, but your carpet cleaning example is probably one of the best ones I have heard that really hits home the differences. Thank you for making that connection for me. I had a great "ah ha" moment.

  2. I'm glad it connected for you. It is actually an explanation that has resonated with many of my clients.

    It was honestly born out of a discussion that I had with the owner of JMS Enterprises, as we were discussing a bid that he was submitting for a job - and how to make it more effective.