You’re probably not selling what you think you’re selling

What’s your product? What do you sell?

Are you sure?

Pop Art woman on the phone

Get to the point in your marketing.

You see, I think you might be mistaken. Let me explain.

A Harvard marketing professor once said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want to buy a quarter-inch hole!”

Of course, this is a bit over-simplistic, like many analogies. But for our purposes, it’ll work. Essentially, the professor meant that people don’t want your product. They want what your product does.

Customers don’t care about the features. They want to know about the benefits.

But most marketing tells people about the features. Which is one reason why most marketing is crap.

Let’s use me as an example. I’m not selling copywriting and marketing services. I’m selling increased profits. More sales. Better ROI on your marketing investment. Any idiot can slap a few words on a webpage or a brochure. But I’ll make damn sure those words bring in the profits.

It’s exactly the same if you’re a purveyor of things rather than services.

You need to find the benefits of what you offer, not the features. A good way to do that is ask yourself if your reader is going to say ‘so what!’ and turn the page after reading what you have to say. Not sure what I mean?

Take cat litter, for example.

Your reader’s problem is smelly, messy cat toilets. Your cat litter has a new formula, and it solves this problem for them.

“We’ve developed a new type of cat litter.”

~ So what?

“Our new cat litter is designed to form clumps.”

~ So what!

“Our new cat litter forms clumps, locking in odours and making it easier to remove dirt.”

~ Bingo!

You’ve reached the benefit. Now you can turn it into copy that will appeal to your readers (although even if you leave it at that, it’ll get the job done better than most ads).

See what I mean? Benefits vs features. It’s not the whole story when it comes to marketing that works, but it’s certainly a good start.

In my book, Business For Superheroes, we’ll talk more about features and benefits, so go ahead and get your copy  here. We’ll also talk about cost and positioning and the way you go about selling. But for now, I’d like you to go through that little cat litter exercise for your business.

List all your features, then keep saying ‘so what!’ until you get to the benefits. That should be the basis of your marketing.




Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.


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