Confusing a Feature with a Benefit

I asked Jim Flowers, Director of business accelerator VT KnowledgeWorks, follow-up questions about his commentary on why he launched a blog for VT KnowledgeWorks.

Jim Flowers replied via e-mail, 8/28/08:


You asked how VT KnowledgeWorks  knew it needed a blog, and why. 

Here’s a radical thought.  Nobody needs a blog.  But they quite possibly need what a blog might enable, namely increased exposure to targeted prospects via Internet channels.  VT KnowledgeWorks and its member companies needed/wanted stronger Internet visibility.  We selected a blog as one of the tactical options open to us to satisfy that strategic desire.

This brings up a common and quite fundamental marketing mistake: confusing a feature with a benefit.  Buyers don’t really care about product or service features.  They care about the benefits that features deliver.  For some time consumer marketing has been largely driven by the general notion that people don’t buy things, they buy feelings.  Those feelings are the sought-after benefits, whether they are generated by fast cars, expensive watches, or pricey perfumes.  MasterCard has provided us the gold standard for understanding this idea.  “Product – $20.  Product – $50.  Experience – priceless.”

This is precisely why the best salespeople invest a lot of time and energy into understanding each prospect’s underlying strategic and or emotional needs before making a pitch.  Once the real need is identified, the product or service can be artfully positioned as addressing that need.

So, as regards blogs, not only can they improve corporate visibility; their effects are also quite nicely measurable.  Dollars and/or energy in, page ranking and web hits out.  If logo-stamped helium balloons could do the same thing, we would use those, too.

Jim Flowers, Director
VT KnowledgeWorks
[email protected]

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