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Marketing Writers: Bring the Benefits to Life

Every marketing writer knows the importance of focusing on the benefits. Your product or service may have a whole smorgasbord of amazing features -- but, unless you explain how those features benefit the prospect, your marketing piece is doomed.

But is simply explaining the benefits enough? Sometimes it is. However, in most cases you need to go a step further and bring the benefits to life. Whose life? The prospect's, of course.

Here's what I mean:

Consider this product description for the XBX Lawnmower (a fictional product.)

The XBX lawnmower doesn't just cut your lawn, it also gathers and mulches the grass, effectively cutting any lawn care job down to less than half the time. So you can spend more time with your family.

Now that's a pretty good description of the product benefits. There's nothing wrong with that copy. But you can make it much better if you bring the benefits to life for the reader.

Take a look at what happens when you add some drama:

You pivot to the left, turn and then take the shot. But your ten year old son intercepts, jumps and scores a basket. Saturday morning b-ball with the kids has never been so enjoyable. That's because you've been able to get the lawn cut, raked and mulched in less than half the time it used to take you. Thanks to the all-in-one XBX lawnmower.

Can you see how that copy would affect a prospect emotionally? You're bringing the benefits to life -- into the life of that dad and his kids.

Putting the product benefits into the world of the prospect is one of the most powerful techniques in copywriting.

If the prospect can see, hear, taste, smell or otherwise visualize himself using the product in his own life, work or business, then you're going to have a much better chance of persuading him to buy it.

Real estate agents know this. They'll often advise clients to pack up family pictures and personal items before an open house or viewing. The reason is that the realtor wants potential buyers to visual themselves living in the home, not the current owner.

This is just as true of business-to-business buyers, a group that too many marketing communicators assume make all their purchasing decisions based purely on logic.

A famous case in advertising illustrates this. In the 1980s, IBM was selling computer hardware at a much higher price than their competitors. They used the slogan: "Nobody ever got fired for buying an IBM." Their advertising was directed at engineers, a fairly logical group of people. But IBM led the market because that slogan resonated emotionally with the target audience.

Here's another example. This one is a direct mail letter for Eating Well magazine, written by copywriting great Donna Baier Stein.

Why not top off tonight's meal with Raspberry Angel Tartlets -- a cloud of fresh berries floating on a silky lemon filling...

Each one weighs in at a deliciously diminutive four grams of fat. Yet they're so irresistible you may very well have to shoo volunteer taste-testers out of the kitchen.

You can see how that last line puts the benefits of subscribing to the magazine right into the prospect's life -- quite literally into her kitchen, shooing taste-testers away.

Irresistible.

So the next time you're describing a benefit, think of ways to bring it to life. If you do, your marketing results will come to life, too!


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Steve Slaunwhite is a marketing consultant, award-winning copywriter, and author of The Everything Guide to Writing Copy. He works with professionals who need better results from their websites, e-mails, sales letters, ads, and other marketing communications. He is also the editor of www.ForCopywritersOnly.com. His professional home on the Web is www.SteveSlaunwhite.com. Click here to read more articles by Steve Slaunwhite.

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Comments from our users:

Monday November 5th 2007, 9:26 AM
Comment by: anna S. (South Africa)Top 10 Commenter
It would be nice if the pronunciation of the word appeared after the definition is shown.
Monday November 5th 2007, 10:45 AM
Comment by: Theodore N.
Great instruction. Article details, concrete examples illustrate actual usable ideas.
Thursday November 8th 2007, 4:11 AM
Comment by: Wynand K.
Pity those lawnmowers do not exist ... I'll put one on my "wish list" anyway ! Great article. Thanks.
Monday November 12th 2007, 9:35 PM
Comment by: Mark F.
"Who's life?"

Ouch.
Sunday November 18th 2007, 1:03 PM
Comment by: Skyler M.
Excellent. Right on target. Though I already knew about targeting consumers through their emotions, you provided a slightly different prospective at creating provocative copy. Thanks.
Saturday November 24th 2007, 7:47 AM
Comment by: Quitterie R.
Very interesting, will forwarded to my office, we could use some of the tips

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