Since you’re here looking for marketing advice, I’ll assume you’ve heard that one before. David Ogilvy said it in his book, Confessions of an Advertising Man, in 1963.
And while he gave this bit of advice long before marketers started talking about SEO, AI and ecommerce, it still applies.
He follows up with, “You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything. She wants all the information you can give her.”
Not bad, Mr. Ogilvy. You basically just summed up everything we were going to write about in a couple smooth lines. But we wanted to take a deeper dive, so read on.
We get it wrong a lot. We talk to our consumers like they’re that one great-aunt we only see at funerals — with the kind of cold enthusiasm that should only come out during those occasions.
Communicate your product to consumers like they’re people.
People you know and love, people you’re comfortable being around, people you see outside of funerals.
Your brand should connect with consumers on an emotional level, appealing to their aspirations. Have you seen Nike’s newest commercial? If not, we must be doing something right for you to hear about it from us. If so, think about how it made you feel. Motivated? Inspired? Emotional? More willing to drop cash on a new pair of running shoes for those reasons? Probably so. Nike appealed to their consumers’ aspirations, whatever they are, and earned over 20 billion views on Twitter alone because of it.
Your products however need to connect with your consumers at a more practical level. Find their needs and focus on how your product can fulfil them. To do this, lead with your product’s benefits and support with their features, sacrifice your features in favor of your benefits, be as straightforward as possible (remember the moron thing), and demonstrate with data.
Let’s look at some examples.
Runners wearing the Nike Zoom Vaporfly ran four to five percent faster than a runner wearing an average shoe and two to three percent faster than runners in the next-fasted popular running shoe. Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya actually broke the two-hour marathon barrier in them last October — this is the benefit. This is because of carbon plates and midsole foam — this is the feature. Another example is Geico, one of the largest brand advertisers in the US, famously claiming that 15 minutes could save you 15% (or more) on your car insurance. Geico focuses 100% on the benefit (15% savings) without even mentioning the feature.
Amazon and other online retailers will ask you for specific product features.
That’s fine. Just make sure you’re communicating benefits driven by features and not the other way around.
The key features of your product that will be used and leveraged long term or have intellectual property (like patents) can and should be branded by linking the branded feature to the benefit. This will cast the brand over benefit and help you own it.
Bullet your features and benefits with short and concise communication, being as efficient as possible with every word. Your consumer already knows big words, no need to boast your pocket thesaurus.
Don’t just do this with Amazon and the likes. Make sure you’re communicating this way everywhere — packaging, displays, brochures, websites, etc. Attention spans are at an all-time low due to all the advanced tech we have at our fingertips, the instant gratification of social media, and expectation of next day delivery. Save the wordiness for the product description paragraph.
Save your breath.
Follow the rule of three and try to limit the features and benefits to three things.
Make the most important benefit the first benefit. Put the least notable benefit in the middle — it’s often lost and consumers are more likely to remember the first and last on the list (sorry, middle children). Place the second most important benefit in the third slot.
It’s subtraction by addition. The more features and benefits you throw at a consumer, the less likely they will be to remember any of them. If you try to tell them everything, you’ll end up telling them nothing, so tell them the important stuff and move on.
Product development has already designed the product to meet a consumer need or address a pain point.
The marketing team and product management should be aligned from the beginning on what unmet need is being addressed by the product, leverage those conversations in your communication
Relevant consumer insights or those “ah-ha” moments from consumer research or product research are gold — they don’t have to stay in the conference room, make them the stars of your product communication.
Focus on your target consumer or audience.
If your product meets a market niche, identify the niche you’re talking to and call them out.
People with pets, people seeking work attire, runners in search of the perfect shoe, etc.
Pharmaceutical companies do this by calling out people with specific conditions they’re in search of a treatment for, like digestive trouble, heart issues, the list goes on.
If this niche is “specialized,” talk to them in their “specialized” language. Talk directly to your target. If the broader audience doesn’t get it, that’s ok — it’s not for them. And the niche audience will appreciate you even more because they know you’re talking directly to them.
The same can be said reversed. If you have a broad target consumer, speak to them in broad terms.
Consistency is key.
It sounds simple, but with all the moving parts involved, we tend to mess it up.
All consumer touchpoints should communicate the same thing in the same manner. That niche “specialized” language we discussed? It needs to remain in packaging brochures, online merchandising, website, point-of-sale displays, advertising, social media, etc.
One possible exception that affords some latitude is on social media where we can adopt a more casual tone, but the core of the message should be consistent and product features and benefits should be the same.
Partner with retailers to provide them with the brand and product communication. They’ll be grateful for the help, you’ll both sell more product and all the touchpoints will remain consistent.
Stay in your brand tone of voice.
Be on the same level with your consumer. In a lot of ways, you are on the same level as them. You may be on the hunt for a different benefit, but we’re all consumers. Don’t talk down to them, but be confident with your message and remember the consumer isn’t a moron.
She’s your wife.
Connect with us at SmarterLabs.com to see how we can help you create product communication that breaks through, build your brand or create a website for you that will increase your ecommerce business.