“It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife.” Alanis Morrisette may not have had a firm grasp of the meaning of the word “ironic,” but she did hit on a problem in marketing. Your product or service can have the best solutions imaginable. It can compete beautifully with the competition. But if it doesn’t solve your prospect’s biggest problem, your marketing efforts will fail. You must make the connection between your prospect’s problem and the solution you offer.
So how do you reach this prospect? The challenge is to show how your product can help solve that problem. Try asking yourself the same questions your prospect might ask: “So what?” So what if your product is the best in its class? So what if it is 53% smaller or 27% faster or 10% cheaper? What if size, speed and price are not your prospect’s concerns? What if your prospect is a small business owner whose biggest problem is employee recruitment? It won’t matter what solution you have if no one is asking the question. You need to answer the “So what?”
In describing a product or a service, it just isn’t enough to show the features. You have to help your prospect understand the “why” as well as answering the “so what” question. A truly successful communication will address the benefits that directly meet your prospect’s needs. For example, the small business owner may not be interested in your small, fast, less expensive product, but she does need to hire better, skilled employees. She needs to understand that the state-of-the art equipment will free her up to focus on other issues, like recruiting top employees. In other words, the marketing communication needs to consider open up the possibilities in the secondary benefits.
This may seem to be asking too much of a short, simple advertisement. But that is the challenge. Assuming you have done a thorough job in constructing a buyer persona, you should know that employee recruitment is a likely issue. The communication itself does not need to be excessive. You could say, “Own state-of-the-art technology that will impress your customers and your employees.” Just by adding the last three words – “and your employees” – you can trigger your reader’s association of the product with her primary concern. She may not be ready to immediately purchase that state-of-the art piece of equipment, but the communication will have greater sticking power because it goes straight to the question occupying her mind: “How can I attract better employees?”.
Successful marketing copy needs to consider the bigger picture of the product or service in the world of the target audience. Explaining the features – however fantastic they are – is not enough. Don’t assume that your prospect will understand how your solution is the answer to their problem. That is solving a question they didn’t ask. Instead, you need to think about the benefits, and how these benefits present a solution to your target’s most pressing challenges needs and interests.