November 24, 2015
Turning features into benefits
The consumer will not care about what you do, until you start to care about what they get. Many brands get stuck at the Indifferent or Like It stage because they talk non-stop about themselves, almost like the consumer does not even matter. It should be one of the most obvious elements in marketing, but it seems lost on many. If we look to the previous century, we see many of the Consumer Packaged Goods brands of the 1970’s and 1980’s screaming their features over and over. Tide gets rid of grass stains, Dove is ph-balanced and Pampers has stay-dry lining. It was all about finding a space in the consumers mind, a wee little space and then extrapolating that one thing to give the perception that you are the best brand. Competitors were able catch up and duplicate the performance of these features, negating any competitive advantage. Even store brands easily duplicated these features and grabbed 10 to 20% of market share. What did the marketers do? They kept finding smaller and smaller incremental features to scream, while trying to hold onto share. As the consumers evolved to wanting more from brands, these brand leaders were stuck talking features. Let’s put this in human terms: if you were on a date, would you be more successful telling your date what a great job you have, what an amazing volleyball player you are and every amazing thing you did since College. Or should you ask about them: What is it that made you become a lawyer? What is your favorite part of the job? When you do well, how does that make you feel? Like in dating, stop telling about yourself all the time. Show interest in your consumer as you would a dating prospect.
The tool we use is a Customer Value Proposition Ladder that helps move you from shouting your features and to start talking about benefits, both rational and emotional. It is a four step process that starts with the consumer, defining the target, outlining any need states or pain points and then helping paint the picture of the consumer with consumer insights and potential enemies that torment them.
We then list out the product features, listing out your top strengths, claimed and any unique points of difference that can separate your brand. We try to get in the shoes of the consumer and using their voice, we ask “So what do I get?” This sets up the rational benefit. And finally, still in the voice of the consumer, we look at the rational benefits and ask “So how does that make me feel?” This tool forces you to change your focus of your brand where you are shouting at consumers to a new perspective where you as the consumer are asking the brand what you get and how you feel.
Using a fictional brand of Gray’s Cookies, use the brainstorming to complete a Customer Value Proposition Ladder Worksheet, with an example below:
Some CVPs can end up very cluttered, but the more focused you can make it the easier it will be for you to choose which one you will stand behind, and which one benefit you’ll communicate. At the brainstorm stage, we try to limit the numbers of 3 or 4 of the best of each whether that’s enemies, insights, features, rational benefits or emotional benefits. If you are uncertain, you might choose to do some qualitative research with some type of benefit or claims sort to hear which ones are the most own-able and motivating.
People tend to get stuck when trying to figure out the emotional benefits. I swear every brand creative out there says: trusted, reliable, self-confident and yet like-able. It seems that not only do consumers have a hard time expressing their emotions about a brand, but so do Brand Managers. Companies like Hotspex have mapped out all the emotional zones for consumers. I’m not a researcher, but if you’re interested in this methodology contact Hotspex at http://www.hotspex.biz
We leverage this type of research and would encourage you to build your story around the emotions that best fit your consumer needs. Leveraging Hotspex, I have mapped out 8 zones in a simplistic way below we call our Emotional Cheat Sheet:
Within each of the eight emotional zones, you can find emotional words that closely align to the need state of the consumer and begin building the emotional benefits within your Customer Value Proposition. The challenge here, like any in marketing, is to narrow down your focus to owning one potential zone, not all of the zones. While it is tempting to want to be noticed, in control and knowledgable, those are 3 distinct emotional zones and if you try to build a reputation by telling consumers you own every emotion, they will either be confused by who you are or in disbelief that you are any of who you claim you are. Neither of those lead to building a brand reputation.
Once you decide on which benefit you will stand behind, you can begin to move forward with a classic positioning statement that includes four key elements:
- Target Market (a)
- Definition of the market you play in (b)
- Brand Promise (emotional or rational benefit) (c)
- The Reason to Believe (RTB) the brand promise (d)
Get in the shoes of your consumer and use their voice to speak to your brand about what they want.
Below is a presentation from our workshop on How to find a winning brand positoning statement.
Here is a related story on how to find the target market: Target Market
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