Marketing Messaging – How Many Marketers Get It Wrong

The battle between features and benefits has been raging forever.  In case you missed it, nobody cares about features.

I mean, really…

Do you care that your anti-aging skin cream contains acetylhexapeptide-3?

Or do you just want to look 10 years younger at your next high school reunion?

Easy answer, right?

I see countless examples of benefits oriented marketing messaging, which is great.  But so many marketers miss the point.  I’m guilty of this from time to time, too!  The problem is that when we move into the realm of B2B marketing, benefits take on some new properties.

First, if something benefits a business, how does that impact the sale cycle?  Let’s take a quick example to explore this.

If a senior director is some guy vetting marketing agencies for a new project, what is the benefit he is looking for?  A little quick thinking might yield a list of benefits like this:

  • Increase new lead generation
  • Positive impact on top line revenue
  • Added brand awareness
  • Grow the business

These are all benefits that the company may derive from hiring this new marketing agency.

But why does the senior director care?

There is a reason I called this person both “senior director” and “some guy.”

See, where benefit oriented marketing gets lost is in not just the “why” but also the “who.”  Benefits driven marketing messages lose their power if the benefits are for a company and they ignore the who – the person behind the company.

So, let’s take another crack at defining some benefits.  This time, let’s think about the person – not the title – making the purchasing decision.  Some guy is vetting marketing agencies for a new project.  What are the benefits that will most appeal to him?

  • Look like a star to your boss
  • Get the promotion you have been gunning for
  • Office peers will respect you
  • Your wife will love you more if you’re successful

See what we’re doing here?  The senior director might care about increasing revenue, but will some guy necessarily care?  Well, sure he cares, but that is not the emotional driver that will compel him to choose one vendor over another.

What will compel him to act is a core emotional driver.  This driver will not be found in his loyalty to the company, or on his desire for his boss to be successful.  The driver will be the personal benefit from a given transaction.

That guy wants the freedom more income brings.

He wants success.

He wants love.

He wants recognition.

So if you’re working on a campaign and focused intensely on coming up with a punchy, benefits-driven message, stop and think:  who is this really benefiting?

Now re-think how your benefits are presented.

Determining the who is perhaps even more important than determining the why.  But put them both together and you’ll be pushing the emotional buttons that will lead to new sales.

And that’s the bottom line.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)