Are Features All that Matter?

by | Dec 14, 2010 | Marketing & Selling

Like so many other marketers, Seth Godin, author of such marketing must reads as Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us,
Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync?
and All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World,
has taken some space on his blog to comment on the marketing machine that churned out the 2008 presidential election. In his post “Marketing lessons from the US election” he made the following comment.

More than a billion dollars spent, two ‘products’ that have very different features, and yet, when people look back at the election they will remember mavericky winking. You can say that’s trivial. I’ll say that it’s human nature. Your product doesn’t have features that are more important than the ‘features’ being discussed in this election, yet, like most marketers, you’re obsessed with them. Forget it. The story is what people respond to.

And, although I agree, I have one small bone to pick. If you don’t understand and know what your product’s features and benefits are, how will you know what stories to tell? This is how I see it:

Step 1 to a Powerful Marketing Story: List the features.
This is the easy part. What features does your product or service have? Is it downloadable? Does it come in CD format? Does it use recycled paper? Is it purple, red or brown? List all the features you can come up with.

Step 2 to a Powerful Marketing Story: List the benefits.
This is a little trickier. What benefits do the features you just listed give your client? Does it save them time? Does it save them money? Does it save the environment? Come up with as many benefits for each feature as you can.

Step 3 to a Powerful Marketing Story: Write your stories.
This is the hardest part, but the return on investment is enormous. Look at the benefits you just listed. What kinds of stories can you tell that will illustrate those benefits and bring them to life? That’s how you’ll get your message across memorably!


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