This is a guest post by Dan O’Sullivan.
Have you ever been trapped at a party with someone who can’t stop talking about himself?
You know the type. He goes on and on about his plans for renovating the guest bedroom, his battles with back spasms last weekend, or the latest accomplishments of his remarkable toddler.
The topics are seemingly endless.
Along the way, you might pick up an interesting tidbit or two about raising a gifted child. But when you finally extract yourself from the soliloquy, you feel annoyed (“That’s 30 minutes of my life I’ll never get back”) and maybe even angry (“The jerk never asked me about my family”).
As copywriters, we notice a lot of Web sites, brochures and data sheets that are the marketing equivalent of that guy. That is, they breathlessly expound about the company’s offering without actually addressing what’s in it for the customer. All features, no benefits.
So, how do you avoid being that guy?
It’s all about adopting the right mind-set. When you’re working on new marketing materials, take a step back and assume the role of a skeptical customer. Ask yourself: Why should she care about your product? How will it make her life better or easier? What are the damn benefits?
Yes, you should still refer to those spectacular features (“The advanced design makes this the world’s sharpest knife …”). But don’t stop there. Think of the skeptical customer, and then state how your product will benefit her (“… so you can slit your throat quickly and easily if you get stuck talking to that guy“).
That may be an extreme example, but try it with any product or service feature. If it helps, use the transitional words “which means” or “so you can” and then state how the feature benefits the customer.
This might seem like obvious advice. But keep in mind that as a company insider it’s easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles of a new product. Just remember: Your customers don’t always care about what matters to you.
Communicating what matters to your customers will make your marketing much more effective — and ensure you never become that guy.
Dan O’Sullivan is a partner at The Hired Pens, a Boston-based copywriting firm.