It's About People, Not Products

Posted: Updated:
Scott Flood is the owner of Scott Flood Writing. Scott Flood is the owner of Scott Flood Writing.

Today's companies offer an amazing array of products and services. Surprisingly, the best way to promote those products and services is to stop talking about them.

No, I’m not advocating that products should sell themselves, or that marketing efforts are useless. Quite the contrary. What I’m saying is that so often, companies become so focused on their products and services that they forget why those products and services exist.

No matter what you sell or provide, ultimately it exists to serve people. Sure, your accounting firm may offer auditing services, but you deliver those services to company owners and executives who want to be certain that their books are accurate and legal. Your company may produce an insecticide that’s deadly to cockroaches, but that insecticide is purchased directly or indirectly so people won’t have to worry about having brown bugs scurrying around their homes. Maybe you manufacture ball bearings that keep industrial machinery spinning at tens of thousands of RPMs, but their real reason for existing is so the owners of that machinery won’t have to worry about breakdowns.

Most companies are proud of the products and services they offer, so they figure the best way to promote them -- whether through ads, a website, social media, or any other channel -- is to tell everything about them. They tend to list as many features as they can. And they like to use words that make the products and services seem even better, like “top-quality” and “world-class.” Isn’t that what marketing is all about?

Well, not really. In simple terms, effective marketing is about finding a need, developing a way to fill that need, making the person in need aware of it, and convincing them to buy it. Simply talking about all the features and saying wonderful things about your company is the equivalent of standing there and shouting, “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!”

So what should you do instead of talking about your products and services? Start by getting to know the people who need them. Then help them understand how your product or service will improve their lives, lower their stress, save them money -- whatever its advantages may be. And do it in language they’ll understand.

Rather than say “our veeblefetzer uses a three-segmented fribjit “ -- something the engineering team is deeply proud about, but is meaningless to customers without an explanation -- tell the customer that “you’ll core radishes in less time, because our exclusive fribjit holds the radish in place.” Those two sentences give you a comparison between a feature and a benefit. A feature is what makes your product different; a benefit is why that’s important to customers.

Most of all, though, instead of talking to customers about what’s important to you, talk about what matters to them. Someone who processes radishes is concerned about handling as many as possible, with minimal waste and downtime. If you talk about those factors, and then show how your product achieves what they need, you’ll make it clear that you have a genuine interest in helping them be more productive and successful.

The best way to explain how well your product or service fits the bill is to put it in the form of a story. Instead of forcing the prospect to guess at what using what you offer can do for them, share a story that shows what it did for someone else. We relate better to messages that are in the form of stories, whether we call them case studies or testimonials.If you tell me that Roger’s Produce Processing was able to increase their throughput of radishes by 34 percent and cut waste by 12 percent using your product, it’s easy for me to envision what that kind of performance could do for my radish production lines. But tell me that your world-class veeblefetzer uses titanium zimzams, and I’m not sure why that should be important to me.

Not sure what your customers want to hear or how they say it? Spend some time in the field with your sales staff. Talk to people at trade shows. Hold focus groups with your current customers to develop a better understanding of what’s most important to them. Then use what you learn to transform your ads, your website, your brochures, and all those other materials to language that means more to your customers than to your internal team. That’s what’ll get customers talking about you.

Scott Flood is the owner of Scott Flood Writing.

  • Perspectives

    • Big Data's Role in Site Selection

      In the world of site selection, companies assess the pros and cons of various factors to identify the location that best fits their current and future business needs. The list may seem endless: labor availability, utility needs and costs, real estate options, tax climate, incentives, quality-of-life considerations, even an area’s weather patterns and the likelihood of natural disasters. With the emergence of big data and the use of data analytics in all facets of business...

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • $25M Behavioral Hospital Coming to Central Indiana

      Danville-based Hendricks Regional Health is partnering with US HealthVest to develop a stand-alone behavioral center on the Hendricks campus in Plainfield. Known as the Indianapolis Behavioral Hospital, the facility will provide specialized inpatient and outpatient mental health care to patients of all ages.

    • Demand Fuels $120M Convention Expansion, Hotel Plans

      A $120 million proposal to expand the Indiana Convention Center and build two hotels at Pan Am Plaza in downtown Indianapolis, the city's travel and tourism association says, will put Indy in play for a bigger share of the lucrative convention business. Visit Indy Chief Executive Officer Leonard Hoops says the plans, which include 1,400 new rooms in two Hilton-branded hotels -- one of which will rise 38 stories -- and 300,000 square feet of convention and ballroom space, will help...

    • Bill to Fix Tax Issue For Trailer and Camper Dealers

      U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) has introduced a bill designed to fix what he calls a mistake in the 2017 McConnell-Ryan tax bill that has led to an adverse effect on RV trailer and camper dealers. Donnelly says the tax bill "significantly reduced" a tax deduction for dealers, which has led to higher inventory financing costs.

    • 'Heartbreaking' End For Nashville House

      The 91-year-old Nashville House restaurant is closing. The Brown County family dining staple will serve its last meal at the end of the month. In a post on Facebook, Gina Sarah Rogers, daughter of late-owners Andy and Fran Rogers, said it is "the end of an era and very heartbreaking." The restaurant is known for its country-style fried chicken and ham meals. Business on the property dates back to the late-1860s when an inn opened. It was acquired in...

    • CIB OKs $120M Convention Center Expansion, Two Hotels

      The Capital Improvement Board of Directors in Indianapolis, Visit Indy and Indianapolis-based Kite Realty Group Trust (NYSE: KRG) have unveiled $120 million plans to expand the Indiana Convention Center and add 1,400 rooms. The proposal, approved Friday morning by the CIB, involves two new hotels, including a 38-story property, and extending the convention facilities to the current Pan Am Plaza site. In January, the CIB released a request for interest for a convention center...