Do you know the 4 types of benefits for your product or service?

Here, customer…

Here, customer…

I was at a business networking thing a few months back, and started gabbing with a product manager from, of all things, a valve company. Yes, valves—as in plumbing. As you’d expect, she looked pretty beaten down; it’s not the most interesting subject to peddle.

We started to get into the nitty-gritty about her company’s products—hey, it was new for me, at least—and I was surprised to learn that she really wasn’t selling on benefits. Most of her sell was, well, facts. “X” valve does “X” gallons per minute… that kind of thing.

I asked, “So, what’s the benefit to that?”

“Benefit?” she asked, perplexed.

“To whomever is using it…” I said, now perplexed myself.

I was met with a blank stare, and our conversation started to sputter, like a substandard valve. I graciously excused myself.

Later, as I stood munching by the cheese platter (I’m always by the cheese platter), I was thinking about that short, awkward, chat.

As marketers, we should (hopefully) ALWAYS being thinking in terms of benefits for our customers… the sizzle and not necessarily the steak. And although “valve lady” may be lost on this, the rest of us know the drill.

You’d think that a benefit is just a benefit. Pretty simple. But in fact, there are several different types of benefits. There are, for example…

Objective positive benefits – These are the types of benefits most of us think of first… a product or service saves you time, effort or money. It makes you more in the know or successful. A lot of business seminars fall into this category—like a recent one I saw that promised to teach you “Insider’s secrets to social media success!” The benefit is clear and direct.

Positive emotional benefits – This is when the product or service makes you feel happier, more confident or satisfied… any positive uplift. A good example? Weight-loss products. They almost always focus on your being more attractive, envied or admired… sometimes even over real-life benefits like better health!

Emotional relief benefits – This is a very different direction from a positive emotional benefit. This is about a product or service taking away negative emotions, like embarrassment, fear or frustration. Think of a home alarm system keeping your family safe… or an identity theft prevention service. It’s all about the peace of mind, man.

Problem-solving benefits – A lot of marketers like this one! It’s when a product or service solves a specific problem. Like relieving symptoms from a persistent condition, getting out of debt, or even making your teeth whiter. Like objective positive benefits, these are pretty direct, too—but are often very specific and targeted.

The best marketing I’ve seen will use more than one of these approaches. That’s because different types of personalities respond to different types of benefits. Some are more emotional, some more objective.

A funny but incredibly effective example of multiple-benefit marketing is the Swiffer®, from Procter & Gamble. Introduced in 1999, P&G has sold nearly 12 million of them. And when you look at their marketing, they touch on all the benefit types:

  • It cleans the floor quickly and efficiently (objective benefit)
  • It doesn’t spread dirty water all over the floor, like an old-fashioned mop (problem-solving)
  • Swiffer assures you that it lifts dirt off the floor and takes it away, which is cleaner and healthier (emotional relief)
  • You’ve done a better job for your family (positive)

It’s benefit genius!

A good thing to try: If you tend to sell utilizing just one benefit approach, consider exploring another type or two—it may be a welcome refresher to your marketing.

– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group

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