Think benefits, not features

While most of us have already wrapped up our holiday shopping – save for a few final items – we can still take away more from the process than just gratitude from our gift recipients. A GE Capital Retail Bank’s 2013 survey of consumers who spent US$500 or more on a purchase discovered that 81% researched online before buying in-store.

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” – Zora Neale Hurston.

As a part of this overwhelming majority, I’m encouraged by this exhibition of modern consumers’ savvy. But I’m not so sure consumers’ research is fulfilling its purpose of guiding buyers to the best purchase.

With the ubiquity of tech specs and a culture ravenous for the latest and greatest, it’s become commonplace for consumers to be whisked away by the myriad of features on a sell-sheet. And while a 2.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor may titillate buyers’ excitement with its magnificent title, the true value is often lost in the verbiage.

Selling based only on lingo is a daring and unsustainable model. It assumes that prospects are fluent in industry lexicon. Eventually, new technology will phase out the core of a specs-based marketing pitch, leaving you with outdated messaging that doesn’t transition – a dangerous and perhaps costly proposition.

Instead, the best marketers connect these specs with real benefits to create strong value propositions. Take this line from Apple as a prime example of how to relay benefits, not just specs.

“Fourth-generation quad-core Intel Core i7 processors provide the fastest performance ever in a MacBook Pro. You can make quick work of even the most complex tasks in professional apps like Final Cut Pro, thanks to speeds up to 2.8GHz”

Not only does Apple include the dialect to make techies salivate, but it connects with one of its core demographics – filmmakers and creatives. Features and benefits should not be mutually exclusive, and the emphasis should always be on the tangible advantages customers will enjoy.

Now, I’m going to ignore the calories featured in these cookies and enjoy their benefits during the holidays!

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