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How to Completely Change Your Messaging Using Benefits

February 19, 2015

Economist and Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt once famously described effective marketing as “selling the hole, not the drill.”

His message was that it’s far more effective to market a product or service using its benefits than to list its most exciting features in the hopes of attracting your target market’s interest.

Selling benefits instead of features might seem obvious, but it’s something that an incredible amount of marketers fail to do. If your copy is feature-focused, it’s very unlikely that your direct mail campaign is generating the response rate that it could.

In this guide, we’ll look at the basics of selling your offer’s benefits rather than its features. We’ll also explain how changing your direct mail postcard’s copy to focus more on your offer’s benefits can dramatically increase your response rate and ROI.


Position your offer as a solution, not just another product

By and large, customers aren’t interested in how your product works, but in how it can help them. By positioning your offer as a solution to their problems, you attract attention as soon as your target customer reads your postcard’s headline.

Changing your marketing from feature-focused to benefit-focused is surprisingly simple. All it takes is a look at your offer from your target audience’s perspective.

Imagine you own a local accountancy firm aimed at individuals and small businesses in your city. From your position on the inside of the firm, your most powerful selling point might be your professional experience.

Based on this assumption, it makes sense to focus on your experience in your direct mail campaigns. Headlines like “Park Place’s Most Experienced Accountancy Firm” or “Let Park Place’s Most Experienced Accountants File Your Taxes” seem logical.

The problem with these messages is that rather than marketing the benefits of your experience, they market the experience itself – a feature of your business, not a clear benefit for customers.

Instead of viewing your business from the inside out, view it from the perspective of a small business owner interested in buying your service. What benefits do you offer them over other accountancy firms because of your experience?

Experience means high quality work, which means greater savings and a far lower risk of being subject to an audit. It also means smooth, stress-free service – a major benefit for any busy small business owner as tax season approaches.


Turning your offer’s benefits into a powerful benefit statement

By breaking the features of your business down into the benefits they offer, you can make your direct marketing message more engaging and relevant for prospects, as well as far more effective for your business.

Let’s continue our accounting example above. Instead of choosing “Park Place’s Most Experienced Accountancy Firm” as your postcard’s headline, try one of the following benefit-focused headlines:

  • “Too busy for tax season? Our experienced team can process your taxes so you can focus on your business.”

  • “Tax uncertainties? Minimize your risk of facing an audit with our experienced accounting and tax services.”

  • “Is your business growing rapidly? We’ll manage your accounts so you know exactly which direction your business is heading in.”

Each of the above headlines references a benefit, not a feature. The first focuses on the time busy small business owners can save, the second on minimizing the risk of a tax audit, and the third on making a growing business simpler and less stressful.

If you’re struggling to attract the attention of your target audience using direct mail, don’t write your campaign off as a failure just yet. Look at your campaign from your prospect’s perspective and you could find the powerful benefit statement you need.