9 steps to identify the benefits of your product or service

Every marketing and sales expert everywhere advises that you use benefits to sell your product or service. After all, people buy stuff because it benefits them so businesses should outline what those benefits are.

But throughout my work as a writer, copywriter, marketer, sales person, and entrepreneur, there have been many times when I’ve wanted to list the benefits of a product or service but have been left with far fewer than I would like.

Here’s an easy step-by-step way to find all the benefits of the product or service you’re selling. So get a blank piece of paper and get ready to fill it up with more benefits than you know what to do with!

STEP 1. LIST THE OBVIOUS BENEFITS

You can probably list a few benefits already. These are the ones that spring to mind for you. I call these the “pet benefits” because they’re the ones that are at the top of your mind.

STEP 2. TURN FEATURES INTO BENEFITS

Turning features into benefits is a classic sales technique. Here’s how to do it: List all of the features of your product or service and then complete the sentence “that’s great because:”

So the feature “long lasting” you might write: “that’s great because my customer doesn’t have to replace it ever year”; or if the feature is “inexpensive” you might write: “that’s great because my customer can save their money to spend on something else”.

STEP 3. THINK ABOUT YOUR TOP CUSTOMERS

Your top customers – the ones who come back again and again, and who tell their friends and family about you – they buy for a reason. What is that reason? What conditions exist in their business or their life that compels them to return again? (Note: The answer to this question isn’t a benefit. You’ll have to translate it into one or more benefits).

STEP 4. THINK ABOUT BRAND NEW CUSTOMERS

The very first time someone clicks to your website or walks into your store, they are tentative and curious and have questions. What questions are they asking? Their questions are a hint at the type of benefits they’re looking for. Use your secret decoder ring to reinterpret their questions and your answers into benefits.

STEP 5. CATEGORIZE YOUR CUSTOMERS

Customers can be categorized into groups. Demographics is one of the easiest and most obvious ways to categorize customers but there are other ways as well: Why do some customers buy at certain time? Why do some customer group specific products and services together? Why do some customers come back again and again while others only buy once? Why do some customers spend more in one sale while others spread out the same number of purchases over a longer period of time? There are many ways to categorize your customers. Each category of customer buys for different reasons. What is it about your product or service that appeals to each category of customer?

STEP 6. THINK ABOUT THE PICKAXE FACTOR

If your product or service wasn’t available and your customer had to fend for themselves, what would they have to do? What makeshift alternate solution would they use? How much time, money, and effort would be required? I call this “the pickaxe factor” because your product saves them from the hard work of doing it themselves.

STEP 7. LOOK AT YOUR COMPETITORS

Although every business’ products and services are slightly different and offer their own unique benefits, there will be some common points between your offerings and your competitor’s offerings. So look at your competitor’s products and services to figure out why people buy. It’s sometimes easier to look at your competitors than your own business anyway, since you’re so close to your own business. (By the way, here are some other ways you can use competitive analysis to grow your business).

STEP 8. EXPAND YOUR LIST

Now that you have a list of benefits, it’s time to expand the list. For every benefit, rewrite it in two or three different ways. Rewording benefits in different ways is a great exercise because it helps you look at the benefit from different angles. A classic example is the benefit of “saving time”. I used to write that down as a benefit to the products or services I sold. But saving time is only one way to express the benefit and it’s not really the best way to express the benefit. Rather, “having time to spend on other activities” is a better way to express the “saving time” benefit. Once you’ve reworded your benefits, you don’t have to get rid of the original benefit; it’s good to have both.

STEP 9. QUANTIFY YOUR LIST

This could be the most difficult step. Where possible, quantify your list of benefits. If one of the benefits is “save time” then figure out how much time they save. If one of the benefits is “save money” then figure out how much money they save.

BONUS STEP

If you’re really anxious to make these benefits work for you, check out my blog post How to construct persuasive sales benefits to turn this list of benefits into a list of magical, eyeball-gripping, wallet-producing benefits.

As you go through these steps, build up a big list of benefits and save that list somewhere as a source document for all of the marketing and sales efforts in your sales funnel. You’ll end up pulling these benefits into your marketing copy and sales presentations. Schedule ten minutes a month to revisit the list and see if you can come up with any more benefits.

Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and he's a real estate investor and a copywriter for real estate investors.

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