“What do I need a banana for?”

So it’s up to you to create compelling advertising for a product. All the information you have to go on is a list of product features in a brochure. It does this, it looks like this, it costs this much. Really basic stuff. But you want to get prospective customers excited enough about your product to buy it. Just describing its features the way Mr. Spock would — from intellectual observation — won’t do the trick. You have to find a benefit in the product that will show prospects they need, want or desire it.

banana-splitSo how do you turn features into benefits? By following the WIIFM method. “What’s in it for me?” is the first question the prospect will ask. And it’s the crucial question you must answer. A fact sheet for a banana might list features like “attractive yellow hue,” “soft texture,” “delicious flavor,” etc. But does that make you want to buy a banana? If you’ve never heard of it before? No. Only if it has a benefit for you. In selling, WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) applies to bananas and every other thing under the sun.

“What do I need a banana for?” your prospect asks.

You reply, “Well, bananas are delicious and handy to take on a trip, ’cause they have their own wrapper. They’re great for snacks or sliced on cereal. Each banana has only 100 calories and no fat. They provide the potassium you need every day to stay healthy. And they’re natural and unprocessed, with no food additives. Oh, and by the way, kids love ’em.”

“Okay, sounds pretty good, but I’m looking for new menu ideas. Got any?”

“You can make fantastic banana nut bread with it, or ring a fruit salad with alternating slices of banana and kiwi, or — well, here — here’s our new banana cookery booklet, ‘Go Bananas With Bananas!’ There are literally hundreds of ways you can use bananas in salads and desserts!”

“All right — I’m sold!”

What’s the difference between a feature and a benefit? A feature is a “so what?”, while a benefit is the “what’s in it for me?”, the sizzle of the steak, the one thing that makes prospective customers sit up and take notice.

The old AIDA formula still holds:

• Attention

You must get the prospect’s attention so they’ll listen to your message. A great visual, a compelling headline, or on TV or radio, a curious sound (or silence)…

• Interest

You must tell him or her something that interests him or her in your product. Some way to use it to solve a problem, some way the product enhances their life, makes them look more attractive, saves them money…

• Desire

What would make your targeted prospect desire the product? (Better health, wealth, quality of life, convenience, deliciousness, fun?)

• Action

You’ve hit the prospect with the benefits that should appeal to them. If they have a need that your product can fill, then they may go out and buy it.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is, but often, advertisers present a list of features, thinking surely the prospect can figure out how the features are beneficial to them. It’s best not to count on their taking the time to connect the dots.

So as an advertiser creating a campaign, always ask, “What does my prospective customer need this (product or service) for?” If you can’t think of an answer, well… think harder.

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