Building your brand: Features & Benefits
Part 3 in our series on building your small business brand.
Your brand’s features are what it does and how it does it. They’re like specifications that provide the practical justification for why someone would choose your brand. But people aren’t in it for the specs, they’re in it for the benefits. What your brand can do for them.
Here I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Customers don’t care about you. They don’t care how great you are or what you’ve done or who you’ve done it with. That’s just window dressing. What they care about is themselves and what you can do for them. In other words, the benefits your brand can provide them.
Now, after you’ve done the best for them and improved their lives, and if they’ve enjoyed doing business with you, you’ll build loyalty and they’ll want to give you your business. But they’ll only do that as long as you’re still doing things to improve their lives.
The moment you stop, the heartless bastards will leave you.
Why it’s essential
90% of all buying decisions are emotionally-based. To capture those emotions, your brand’s features need to be translated into emotional benefits that resonate with your target customers. They need to feel how a particular feature is essential to their improvement.
What it covers
This section covers your brand’s features, the associated benefits, your brand’s benefit hierarchy, its loss hierarchy, its core emotional benefit and, finally, its core emotional loss.
How you’ll use it
As an expression of your core offer, you’ll use your brand’s features and benefits in all marketing material, including your website, print collateral, presentations, PR, advertising, and even as the basis of the content marketing strategy.
How you’ll create it
Ok, here we go. Start by writing down all of your brand’s features as they apply to your brand as a whole and impart themselves on all your product or services. For example, if you’re a small and flexible company offering tailor-made services, these features apply to all your services.
If your company offers only a small number of services or products, write down all their features. On the other hand, if you offer a lot of products, break it down by product category.
Here’s a short list of features we identified for our presentation coach:
Regular practice presentations
Focused and instructive critiques
Body loosening, breathing and reframing exercises
Verbalizing exact fear
Varying tone and rhythm for emphasis
Using diaphragm to create a resonant, strong voice
Using eye contact
Using effective and natural facial expressions
Using natural body gestures
Eliminating bad ticks and habits
Using power positions on stage
Using blocking techniques
Using stories and anecdotes
And so on.
When you’re done, organize all your features into general categories. For this client, some of those categories were:
If you have a lot of features, it’s easier to work with categories. But if you only have a few features, then work directly with those.
Direct & Ultimate Benefits
Now ascribe a direct benefit to each feature or feature category.
A direct benefit is the most immediate benefit your customer will get from that particular feature. Don’t worry about writing “catchy” phrases, just express the benefit.
Next, ascribe an ultimate benefit that the direct benefit leads to. An ultimate benefit is the result of the direct benefit.
Here is an abbreviated example from the same client.
Next, build a hierarchy of benefits starting from the most immediate direct benefit and moving up the ladder to the ultimate benefit. You’ll find that there’s room for three to five more benefits. It’s usually these middle benefits that will resonate most with targets.
Here’s an example from one of our logistics developer.
The most relevant benefits for this client are right in the middle:
Compete on convenience
Gain a competitive advantage
Enjoy increased customer loyalty
The ones at the lower end are simply to practical to resonate emotionally, and the ones at the top are too broad, since they really apply to everyone and are what every business wants.
Next, we do the same will losses. That is, what a target stands to lose if they don’t choose your brand. These are often the inverse of the benefits, but doing this exercise will give you the precise language to use to highlight what’s at stake for your targets.
Here’s an example:
Again, the middle losses will be the ones that resonate most:
Don’t compete on convenience
Lose competitive advantage
Core Emotional Benefit
Now, go back to your ultimate benefits and add those to the most relevant emotional benefits you identified. From there, narrow them down to the single most powerful emotional benefit that’s relevant to your target. This is what you’ll be communicating to potential customers. But don’t worry about crafting the right language yet. You can do that later. At this point you just need to know what your core emotional benefit is.
For the logistics developer, we decided on:
Increase customer loyalty and get a competitive edge – deliver anywhere in the city in 30 minutes or less.
This we then further focused down to:
Get (there) ahead of your competition.
This combined both the practical benefit of faster delivery with the emotional benefit of beating the competition, both in getting to the customer and on the marketplace in general, all into one short phrase.
Core Emotional Loss
Finally, reframe the core emotional benefit as a core emotional loss, i.e. what will happen if the target doesn’t use your brand. This is ultimately what’s at stake for customers and can serve as a powerful incentive to purchase from your brand.
For the logistics developer, this turned into:
Don’t let your competition get there first.
There you go, now you have all your most important features written down, along with your associated benefits. You also have your ultimate benefits and your core emotional benefits and losses. With this in hand, you have a clear understanding of why customers should choose your brand.
Next up, we’ll take a closer look at the target.