Smart Marketing … for Small Business
By Leslie R. Wolff
“Cutting prices is usually insanity if the competition can go as low as you can.”
– Michael E. Porter
Price alone rarely succeeds.There are many reasons. The depth and variety of product or services offered, convenience of location, quality of customer service, awareness, level of professionalism, possible recommendations of a friend. But the key reason one makes a purchase relates to the benefits they receive.
People buy benefits! And all of the above are in one way or another reflects a benefit. Real or perceived, all of us make a purchase because some how we feel we will benefit from it. The more personal the benefit the stronger the importance to us. Will we be more productive, healthier, more attractive, and/or make more money? Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon said it best when he was quoted “My factories produce lipstick, I sell hope”.
In communicating to your audience do you answer the WIIFM question .. What’s in it for me? Do you really understand the benefits of your product or service as perceived by your customer?Have you clearly expressed to me your customer the benefits I going to gain from doing business with you rather than the features of what you have to sell? People don’t buy from you because you are the biggest, oldest, newest, they buy because you have been able to communicate to them what benefits they will receive from you. That can be your competitive edge, because few companies communicate well the “benefits” they deliver.
How do you learn what your customers feel are important? Duh … ask them! Provide them opportunities to communicate with you face-to-face through your advertising, via publicity efforts, in mailing through the internet and the systems you set up for your sales people to gather that input and give you the feedback. You can also create a promotion by running a contest where customers are asked what are the benefits they most seek from a product or service you offer or what they like most about your doing business with you. A major byproduct of that is a strong public relations platform with unlimited potential. Although you can use what you sell as the prizes to be awarded you can look at other prizes that perhaps relate to a more “beneficial” lifestyle.
Look closely at your competition. Examine their marketing materials and approaches. You may gain some invaluable insight you can incorporate into your marketing strategy. Talk to your vendors. Ask their advice and listen. It is in their best interest to help your business grow. Attend industry trade shows and gather feedback from the same techniques of conversation and observation. Information to aid you in identifying and effectively communicating your “benefits’ are all around you.
What the difference between features and benefits?
A feature is “a part of something that distinguishes it. A benefit is something that has a good effect or promotes well – being. Smart Marketing is when you combine both in your communication message.
(Feature) Our refrigerator has more space. (Benefit) You don’t have to shop as often.(Feature) It comes in 12 colors. (Benefit) There is a color to match your style.(Feature) We offer a really good price. (Benefit) It is affordable without hurting your budget.
(Feature) It has 1.5 Gigabytes. (Benefit) You’ll have more than adequate capacity for your needs.
Smart quote of the week –“Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.” – Elmer Wheeler
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Les is CEO of Philadelphia based Smart Marketing Group a creative strategy firm focused on showing clients on how to outthink, not outspend their competition. Smart Marketing … for Small Business is based on his 50 years of experience, expertise in the marketplace. (www.smartmarketinggroup.com) E-mail him your question at smartmarketing4U@ aol.com.