When working with customers, do you use your language or their language?
No, the question isn’t about whether you use English or German or Spanish. The question actually is whether you talk about your product or service in terms of features instead of what the customer wants from the product or service.
A simple question – “Why do people buy ¼-inch drill bits?” – can help small-business owners understand the importance of using the right “language.”
If you ask a group of people that question, you will get a variety of answers, but several people will answer correctly: “Because the buyer wants to make a ¼-inch hole.”
The issue isn’t that the drill bit keeps its cutting edge longer than others or it is made from a certain grade of steel. The buyer just wants a hole.
Marketing language is talking about the benefits of a product as opposed to the features.
Many of the benefits customers desire are personal, such as comfort, safety, ease of use and affordability. These characteristics answer the question, “What do I get from this purchase?”
So do you focus solely on the benefits in your marketing?
The answer is “probably not.” If products or services provide the same benefits, then features become a way to identify yourself in the marketplace. But even then, the product with the most features or most-desired features will portray itself as something elite or in a category by itself, again a benefit for those looking for self-expression.
To fully speak the language of your customers, you need to understand your customers and what motivates or drives them. Market demographics are part of the answer. This means that your customers will be divided into segments, each focused on a different desired set of benefits.
Talking about a product’s features is easy because this is a language we understand. Talking about the benefits the customer wants is a language we may not know. Yet it is the one that best gets our message across.
So what language will you use?
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.