Communicating the Benefits of a Product, Service or Idea
Imagine a salesperson trying to sell a product; a manager attempting to introduce a new procedure in the workplace; or an employee encouraging a supervisor to adopt a cost-cutting idea. In any of these scenarios, the right type of communication is vital.
Interestingly, this communication has a common strand. No matter how hard the salesperson, manager or employee argues his or her case, the people who are listening want to know one thing: the benefits of the product, service or idea.
BenefitsBenefits are the things that make someone’s life easier, more fun and less costly. Benefits solve problems and make improvements. They give someone what he or she values most.
Take an example of a product such as an electric saw for the DIY market. The features of the saw are the power of the motor, the length of the electric cable, the robust safety shield and the toughened steel teeth on the saw’s blade.
But these features don’t sell the saw. What a DIY enthusiast is looking for are the benefits. An electric saw, for instance, cuts wood with less effort and faster than a hand saw. This means the saw’s user can complete a DIY project quickly and move on to the next job. An electric saw therefore makes life easier. It’s these aspects of the saw that sales literature and salespeople must emphasise.
The key issue to bear in mind is that the benefits of a product, service or idea must answer the question everyone asks: what’s in this for me? Features are secondary.
UnderstandingTo communicate benefits effectively, though, it’s necessary to understand them. Asking questions can help:
- What problem does the product, service or idea solve?
- How does the product, service or idea improve efficiency and give value for money?
CompetitionThe answers to such questions are essential to success. Most products, services and ideas face competition. The ones that succeed are those that bring the most relevant benefits to an individual or organisation.
Who Will Benefit?Benefits must meet needs. Anyone who hopes to promote the benefits of a product, service or idea must find out the needs of the potential beneficiary.
The beneficiary may be a consumer, a business client or a work colleague. It doesn’t matter. Effective communication can only begin when the needs of these people are clear.
Market research can establish what consumers want. As for other potential beneficiaries, the best approach is to imagine how they think and what they are looking for.
ProposalAfter such preparation, it’s time to start the communication process.
Express the benefits of the product, service or idea in simple, honest terms. Don’t exaggerate. People must grasp the benefits quickly and relate to them.
ExamplesTo find examples of benefit communication, leaf through the larger ads in magazines and newspapers. The ads that catch the attention and draw readers in are those with a headline that has at least one benefit.
The features of the products or services may also appear, but they are often further down the page and in smaller print. What sells the products and services are the benefits.