The Write Stuff, LLC
An ongoing series of informational entries
Sell Features Instead of Benefits?
A cardinal rule in copywriting is that you must always emphasize the benefits of a product to the prospective buyer.. The mantras go like this: “People don’t buy features, they buy the benefits those features bring”; or “”Always provide a feature/benefit list.” and “ Make your copy benefit-rich.”
But there are situations where you need to emphasize the features of your product more than the benefits. It’s whenever the benefits are obvious or well understood and your product’s features will be the decisive factor in whether or not it will be included in a component or system design.
Some examples come to mind:
The scale here is different, but the issue is the same. Engineers already know what the benefits of the design will be, but it’s performance that counts. Extolling end user benefits to them at this point can be a turn-off. Their over-riding concern is that your product meets all of the design specifications: functional performance, reliability, durability, compatibility and maintainability. If they are convinced that it does, the odds are in your favor that your product will be spec’d into the design and eventually you will get orders. But you need to provide them with convincing evidence in the formats they prefer, which are usually charts, graphs, data tables and case studies. You need to back up your specs.
Engineers are analytical and can never seem to get enough data, so make it easy for them to call and ask for more details and have knowledgeable people available to engage with them in a technical dialogue. Fit your product into their acceptance space. Engineers usually don’t make the final purchase decision, but they can tee it up for those who do.
B2B marketing has multiple audiences with different information needs The challenge is to get the right messages to the right people via the right channels at the right time.
We can help with that.
Our Latest Blog Entry
June 14, 2021
Tell Me a Story, Daddy…….
From the age of our earliest memories, we have listened to and learned from stories. Remember the lessons of Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, Three Little Kittens, Peter Rabbit, and the Night Before Christmas? Decades later we remember those stories and repeat them word for word to our children and grandchildren. They stay with us all of our lives. They belong to our mythical culture and convey the wisdom of ages in the simplest of terms. We trust them. we remember them, and we repeat them.
What stories do your customers and prospects want to hear?
Tell Me A Story
Don't tell me about the products you sell.
Tell me about the problems you have solved for other people in my situation.
Then tell me what it will be like working with you as you solve those problems for me.
Then tell me how my life will be different after you have solved those problems.
Be sure you tell me what I will get; NOT what you do.
Because I don't have time to figure out if what I need is what you do.
Tell me a story ….. but make it MY story, not yours.
Oh, and by the way, do you have at least one satisfied client who will testify
that the story you are telling me is true?
Is this the kind of story you are telling?
Bob Martel, MS, PE, PhD
B2B Copywriter & MarCom Consultant
Let Me Tell Your Story to the World
Our Second Blog Entry
May 15, 2021
Thirteen Ways to Get Your Message Across
1. Know Your Audience.
What do they care about? What will get their attention? Why should they listen to you? (Being the boss isn’t good enough.) What prior information do they have on the subject? What’s in it for them? On a 1 – 10 scale, are they receptive – neutral – hostile?
2. Use the Best Communication Channels
Print, e-mail, social media, bulletin board, radio/TV, video conference, group meetings, slide presentations: Which channels will connect with your audience most effectively? Use multiple channels to provide reinforcement and more complete coverage.
3. Choose the Best Time.
...of the year, month, week, day. Some messages are urgent and time-sensitive; for others, choose a time when your audience will be available and there will be few distractions. Avoid other calendar events that could reduce the impact of your message. Use these time slots whenever possible:
1st or 2nd week of the month
Tuesday or Thursday
10 – 12 am, 1 – 3 pm.
4. Have a Clear Objective
What is the main purpose of the message? News? Visibility? Credibility? Education? Information? Persuasion? Action? Choose one. How will you measure your success?\
5. KISS: Keep it Simple – and Short
Use plain speaking words in the active voice. In the general public the average vocabulary and reading levels are about the 8th grade. (Your audience may be an exception). Young audiences are used to tweets and sound bites. Most people won’t read, listen to or watch a long or complicated story. You have about 6 seconds to grab their attention and less than 1 minute to hold it. Sum up the essential background and get to the point. No one needs to have a history lesson or know how the watch was made.
6. Make it Crystal Clear.
Use short sentences with action verbs and the simplest words possible. Be direct; no nuances or ambiguities. In print, organize the message logically with headings, subheadings and bullet points (remember the Rule of 3.) Don’t exceed 4 bullet points on a PowerPoint slide. Use boldface and colors for emphasis. Be sure to answer the “So what?” question.
7. Ask for Action
Ask for the response you want and tell them how to do it. (phone, e-mail, reply, check box, take a short survey, mail-it-in). Make it easy and convenient and repeat your request at the end.
8. Give an Incentive
To encourage action, offer a premium: A free report, discount coupon, free sample, trial membership, lottery ticket, an opt-in benefit. Few can resist the word FREE. Point out any consequences of failure to act.
9. Repeat Your Core Message
Near the end, summarize your key points (no more than five). In print or web copy, make them stand out with headline fonts, boldface or color, and a bullet list. (Few get it the first time.)
10. Tag It
Create a memory hook in a short headline tag. (Jingles and slogans do work!) When you’re finished, what’s the one thing you want them to remember?
11. Anticipate Questions
Don’t deal with all the if’s, and’s and but’s in your main message. Cover them in a FAQ list and provide quick and easy access to it.
12. Ask For Feedback
Provide contact information so that people can follow up with questions or comments.
Check with some key members of your audience to see how your message was received. Did they read it? If so, did they “get it”? Was any part confusing? Did something get lost in translation? Find out what the “buzz” was about. Be open to constructive criticism.
13. Imbed It In An Event
Take advantage of company or industry meetings to announce and convey your message. Generate curiosity and interest by promoting the announcement in advance (Example: Apple Computer’s expected announcement of new products at the annual Consumer Electronics Conference.) If you don’t have a convenient forum, create a special event with your message as the keynote or theme.
Remember: The natural consequence of communication is —
For help with marketing communications
e-mail [email protected]
or call and talk with Bob at 1-860-338-3169
Our First Blog Entry
April 2, 2021
Captivate Your Audience With Customer-Centric Copy
Today, top marketers are putting content on their websites not to persuade, but to engage with their customers, meeting buyers where they live and providing information that they want.
With a great experience, customers are 5X more likely to make a purchase. From visiting your website to learn about your brand, making a purchase and getting a response from customer service, to staying up to-date on with what’s going on with your business, every interaction should be seamless, fluid, and positive and friendly for the customer.
How can you put your customer front-and-center in your marketing communications? How can you ensure that your messaging is going to evoke those feelings of being included, understood, appreciated, and inspired that you want your customer to feel when they visit your site or open an email?
You need to create the content that your audience wants, and they want what interests and benefits them. It’s all about them, not about you
Center on Your Customer Instead of Your Brand
Customer-centric businesses are 60% more profitable than those that are still driving their brand-focused strategies. In order to remain competitive today, providing value-driven content is essential. When your inbound marketing is done brilliantly, it won’t just generate more leads. It will establish lasting relationships with your buyers.
This is the gold key of marketing. Repeat customers spend 67% more than new ones, on average.
So what can you do to ensure that all your digital content resonates with your customers?
Change all your WE’s to YOUs
Don’t have a WE-WE website, full of copy like “We do this…We do that …We have…We are…
That’s self-centric, the opposite of customer-centric. More importantly, nobody believes it anymore or even cares. It’s a sure turn-off. Change all those WE’s to YOU’s and YOUR’s.
Write about what your customers care about, what they worry about, what they want to learn and what they hope to achieve. How do you find that out? The old-fashioned way: Research
Know Your Buyers as Well as Your Best Friend
Get into their world. Listen, watch, observe – and dig. Read what your customers are saying on social media to discover pain points. Put out customer surveys when someone visits your website or makes a purchase. Read customer reviews for your business – and your competitors’. Talk to your customers at conferences and trade shows. Ask a lot of questions. Ask them what they need, what they want, what they like.
You need to get to know your buyers like an old friend, becoming able to anticipate their needs, recognize their style preferences, and understand the best ways to communicate with them. You also want to know their goals ( in relation to your brand) and what they value the most (quality, usability, customer support.)
In B2B communications you need to do this for all the people who influence your customer’s buying decisions. For example, engineers want design specs and performance data; end users care about usability and customer support; purchasing agents will inquire about your business reputation and warranties; CFOs will focus on ROI and financing options. They are all on your customer’s buying team, and any one of them can kill a deal. You want all of them to know, like and trust your brand and prefer it to your competitor’s. Your content must recognize and appeal to multiple audiences.
The more deeply you know your buyer personas, the better you will be able to write content perfectly suited to them. The more your content speaks to them, the more they’ll respond by signing up for your newsletter, following your brand on social media, engaging with your sales reps, and making repeat purchases.
Customer-centric content works.
Make Customer-Centric Communication a Priority
To move from brand-centric to customer-centric communication, transform your customer relationship paradigm from “WE” and “OUR” to “YOU” and YOUR”. Not only should this be reflected in all of your marketing and sales copy. it should be embodied in how your marketing and sales people think and talk about your customers. The more you can make your customers feel like you live in, understand and care about their immediate world, the more likely they are to stay engaged with your brand and continue being loyal customers.
This is an abridged and revised version of an article originally posted by Michael Brenner on Content Marketing in 2017. titled If Your Content Isn’t Customer-Centric it Isn’t Working. Credit to Michael Brenner and Content Marketing is gratefully acknowledged.