Marketing Tips 101: Sell the Benefits, Not the Features

December 2023
December 2023

Matthew Pattinson

I'm a 4 Slice Toaster with frozen, cancel and reheat settings to ensure easy operation whilst the variable browning control means your toast is perfectly cooked, just to your liking. When I'm not toasting, I'm living the agency life as managing director of CMA. What a life.

While the channels through which we deliver digital marketing change lanes faster than a cheetah driving a Ferrari, some pearls of wisdom stand the test of time. That’s because when you strip away all the razzle dazzle of an advertising campaign, one thing remains true: it will be consumed by a human. And now, more than ever, humans are discerning creatures when it comes to making purchase decisions.

They don’t want to be sold to. They want to be engaged. They want to be understood. This rationale is at the heart of Harvard marketing professor, Theodore Levitt’s, enduring insight. Levitt famously proclaimed: “Sell the hole, not the drill.” This seemingly simple idea is, in reality, a profoundly transformative concept. It is one that holds the key to unlocking the interests and, by proxy, wallets of your target audience.

Read on to discover why making it about them means they will then make it all about you. 

The Wisdom of Theodore Levitt

Levitt’s wisdom revolves around the fundamental understanding that customers don’t purchase products solely for their features; instead, they seek the benefits and value these products bring into their lives. It’s a paradigm shift that, when embraced and mastered, can revolutionise your marketing approach.

While some-forward thinking businesses are already savvy to this, as an agency, take it from us that many still want to lead with the product. While this can be more irritating than wearing that awful wool jumper your Nan got you, it is understandable. After all, if you’ve spent years developing a product or service, you’ll love the features. It’s your baby, right? Sure it is! It’s only natural then to go all goo goo gaga over it and scale the nearest available mountain to sing about how the Octomo5000 is the best thing since sliced bread. 

It’s not about you though. It’s about your customer. And sure, while you may have the pipes of Celion Dion, if you want them to join in on a duet, you need to change the track. That means selling the benefits, not the features.

The Essence of ‘Sell the Benefits’

Let’s dissect the essence of this concept. When you think of iconic brands like Nike or Coca-Cola, what comes to mind? They aren’t merely selling products; they’re weaving intricate narratives around the benefits and experiences that their products deliver.

Nike, for instance, doesn’t inundate you with technical specifications about the materials used in their shoes or the pattern of the sole grip. Instead, they kindle the dream of becoming the best athlete you can be. They promise you the status of a winner and the thrill of an inspiring journey towards greatness. 

It’s a vision that transcends the shoe and speaks to your deepest aspirations of your soul – rather than the one underneath your feet.

Meeting Desires, Needs and Dreams

When you market your products by selling the benefits, you’re essentially drilling into your customers’ wants, needs and desires. Think about what keeps them awake at night and how you can get them off to sleep.

Do so by demonstrating how your product can help them overcome challenges, enhance their lives or achieve their dreams. This approach is the magic wand that turns a product into a life-improving solution.

The Emotional Connection

Benefits have a unique power – they resonate with customers on an emotional level. By addressing not just the rational but the emotional aspects of your audience, you’re forging a deep and lasting connection. Customers become attached to your product because it’s not merely a physical item; it’s a means to a better life. This emotional bond can be incredibly motivating and persuasive.

Empowering Your Marketing Strategy

So, how do you apply this wisdom in your marketing strategy?

Know Your Audience:

To sell the benefits effectively, you must truly understand your audience. What do they desire? What problems do they need to solve? What are their dreams and aspirations? Tailor your message to address these key points.

Craft Compelling Brand Stories:

Weave narratives around your product that resonate with your audience on a deeper level. These stories should highlight the transformation your product brings, from problem to solution, from challenge to triumph.

Use Emotional Language:

Infuse your marketing content with emotional language. Connect with your customers by evoking feelings of joy, success or relief. Words have the power to move people.

Show, Don’t Just Tell:

Visuals are a potent tool. Use images, videos and graphics that depict the benefits of your product in action. Paint a vivid picture of the positive change your customers will experience.

Testimonials and Reviews:

Let your satisfied customers speak for you. Authentic testimonials and reviews are social proof that the benefits you claim are real and attainable.

Are You Sold?

In the world of marketing, the rule is simple yet profound: Sell the benefits, not the features. By embracing this principle, you’ll unlock the true potential of your product and create a compelling brand story that captivates your audience. So, remember, it’s not about the drill; it’s about the hole. It’s about the life-enhancing benefits your product provides.

With that in mind, are you ready to unleash the power of benefits-driven marketing and transform your strategy? Let’s connect and explore how our marketing, design and development agency can craft a narrative that sells the experience, not just the products. Together, we can propel your brand to new heights. 

Contact us today to embark on your journey to marketing excellence. See what we did there. 😉

Matthew Pattinson

I'm a 4 Slice Toaster with frozen, cancel and reheat settings to ensure easy operation whilst the variable browning control means your toast is perfectly cooked, just to your liking. When I'm not toasting, I'm living the agency life as managing director of CMA. What a life.
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