We’ve all been there. You walk into Big Box Electronics. Some young pup starts talking to you about the big-screen TVs you’re eyeing. He mentions scan rate. HD-grade 1280 x 720 pixel resolution. Lines per inch.

You stand there and nod, furrow your brow at appropriate places, and do your best not to look stupid. But that’s how you feel. The more he talks about the features of the TV of your dreams, the less excited you get about buying it.

Because you haven’t been dreaming about 1280 x 720 pixel resolution. You’ve been dreaming about relaxing on the weekend, shoes off, feet on the coffee table, and seeing your favorite team make the playoffs on your new big-screen TV.

And your wife has been dreaming about “being at” her favorite soap opera character’s wedding by watching it on your new big-screen TV.

And both of you – husband and wife – have been dreaming of being the envy of the neighborhood because you are the first with the latest, greatest, biggest TV.

Nobody (Well, Almost Nobody) Dreams About Features

You’ve heard the dictum to “sell benefits not features.” With a handful of exceptions, this is excellent advice. However, few entrepreneurs really know the difference.

There are actually three important things that you need to consider when selling your product: features, benefits, and deeper benefits.

1. Features are attributes your product has:

  • your digital, high-resolution camera

  • your nutritional supplement that contains lycopene

  • your investment newsletter that has a top editor

2. Benefits are the ways your product impacts and improves your customer’s life:

  • Your high-resolution, digital camera produces realistic, sharp images that your customer is proud to show.

  • Lycopene in your supplement protects your customer against cancers.

  • The editor of the newsletter provides your customer with reliable investment information that he can use to be a successful investor.

3. Deeper benefits are the ways – the deeply personal ways – your product fulfills your customer’s dreams.

  • The camera’s sharp pictures let him relive joyous times with his family … even when they are miles and miles away.

  • Lycopene’s cancer protection means he’ll have more time on earth. He’ll be able to accomplish his dreams in good health and without worry.

  • The newsletter’s investment advice means he’ll be the neighborhood expert on wealth and investment. Family, friends, and work associates will admire (and even envy) him.

Beware: Benefits and Deeper Benefits Vary With Different Customers

Let’s say you’re trying to sell a car. This car has 450 horsepower and accelerates from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds.

These two items are features. The car brings them to the sale. They are the same whether you’re selling to a man or a woman.

But not so with benefits.

If you’re selling the car to a woman, you tell her about the power and acceleration. Then you tell her this means she can merge onto the freeway safely and quickly. These are benefits to her.

But these benefits go deeper. She won’t have to worry about her children being crushed by the tractor-trailer bearing down on her. Her children will be safe. And she will not have to grieve and feel guilty.

On the other hand, in selling the same car to a man, you accentuate the visceral power, manliness, and sexiness the features bring. These are benefits to him.

And you might add that the power, manliness, and sexiness will have women looking at him admiringly. And make other men jealous.

It’s important in building your sale to understand that deeper benefits should be sold subtly. You have to present them in such a way that your customer doesn’t realize you’re aware of his deepest desires and fears.

If you’re so bold as to say “The Mercedes XL648 will have women drooling and men glaring,” your customer will resent you … even if that’s what he really wants. State this deeper benefit indirectly: “The XL648 is a real head turner. You’ll be amazed at the attention you’ll get.”

Don’t Ignore Features

If you’re selling a product whose feature set is easily recognized by the customer, you cannot ignore them. This is especially true for technical products. The following computer ad provides a good example:

“Intel Pentium M processor 1.5GHz, 256MB SDRAM, 40GB hard drive, DVD/CD-RW combo drive, 802.11b/g wireless, 14.1-inch XGA display, Microsoft Windows XP Pro”

All of these are features … and almost all are incomprehensible to the average buyer. But if you’re shopping for a computer and one says 1.5 GHz (processor speed) and another says 1.65 GHz, which one seems better to you – even if you don’t know what it means? Obviously, the 1.65 GHz processor.

But in selling this computer, don’t make the mistake of relying solely on its features. Don’t expect your customer to make the mental leap from feature to benefit. Lead him by the hand.

“The 1.65 GHz processor means the computer works faster. [Feature.] So you’ll be able to accomplish a lot more. [Benefit.] You’ll free up more time to play with the kids. [Deeper benefit subtly expressed. The real deeper benefit is that the kids won’t hate you for ignoring them.]”

How do you determine benefits and deeper benefits?

  • First, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Think like he thinks. What does he want from the product you’re selling? How will he feel when putting your product to use?
  • Second, talk to your friends/ relatives who are like your potential customers. Ask them how they would feel smoking a fine, hand-rolled cigar.
  • Third, read, read, and read. Read the newspapers and magazines your customers might read. Read the trade journals they might subscribe to. And read promotional materials for products that are similar to yours.

Show your prospect how your product will deeply change his life, and you’ll be a master marketer.

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