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How to create effective messages

As consumers, being selfish can pay off. It’s practically the point! As we browse products and try to decide on a purchase, we’re constantly asking the question, “What’s in it for me?”

As marketers and advertisers, answering that question can pay off. With every piece of promotional copy you put out, communicating the benefits has to be your top priority.

We have tested thousands of messages.  Those that leave off the benefit will always score low.  And more often than not, messages stop at the feature and never get to the benefit.

“Show me why I should care.”

Advertising and marketing copy needs to explicitly state the reason why a customer should care about their product. Let’s face it: social media has our attention spans diminishing. No one wants to search through the weeds of wordy copy to know why they should trust your solution to their problem.

With so many options to choose from, and with B2B audiences understaffed and not enough time to do their own job much less read your copy, we need to be upfront and clear about why they should care.  And that means going beyond discussing features.

It’s simple: Show them the benefit.

“But wait: I’ve been showing benefits!”

You may be feeling a bit taken aback right now. After all, as advertisers and marketing professionals, it feels like our entire workdays revolve around communicating benefits to consumers.

This is where a critical distinction needs to be made. Many companies that feel like they are effectively conveying benefits to their audience may only be relaying features.

Fortunately, switching your mindset to benefits doesn’t have to be too complicated. And, because this is such a common mistake in advertising, you could even beat a Fortune 500 company to the punch.

Product features vs. product benefits

Alright, it’s time to distinguish between features and benefits clearly. I hesitated to put these definitions in this article thinking it might be too basic.  But I see this so often, it is worth a quick refresher.

feature is a fact about your product, often relating to its design or unique capabilities.

benefit is an impact that features have on the consumer. For example, these could include saved time, improved quality of life, or ease of performing a task.

Let’s look at an example. Since this post is about getting our benefits and features ironed out, we’ll talk about… an iron.

Suppose your company is selling an iron that includes an LED temperature display. In that case, that’s a neat feature that you’ll want to highlight. But don’t make the misstep of stopping there!

Consider what this feature will mean for the consumers that use it. A bright temperature display will make it clear when the iron is ready to use or when it’s gotten too hot.

Putting it all together: finding the meaning

When you’ve identified the feature and its benefit, one more variable will take you to a successful message.

Jim Edwards wrote an excellent book called Copywriting Secretsand I’m going to spill one of those secrets for you now. He posits that the formula for successful marketing is as follows:

Feature + Benefit + Meaning = Successful Message

That means we’re just one step away from having a successful pitch for our iron. We need the meaning. In other words, why should the consumer care?

To find this, take your thinking one step further. Why, exactly, would it be valuable to know the temperature of your iron?

The LED display of our iron allows you to easily identify the temperature of the device, eliminating the need to wait around testing it and ensuring that fine fabrics don’t get singed.

Hopefully, this helps get rid of any wrinkles in your communication strategy!

And if you need help developing and testing messages, we’d like to help.  To schedule a call with one of our professionals, click here.


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