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Creating Marketing that Entices Prospects by Stressing Benefits

According to a basic marketing tenet, “If you give people what they need, you can make a living, but if you give people what they want, you can make a fortune!” Focused, in-depth market research is the best way to determine what excites customers and how to get their attention and their business.

In today’s highly competitive, over-saturated financial services landscape, marketing professionals increasingly recognize the valuable contribution that research can make. While virtually everyone begins a serious marketing initiative with some form of research activity, the degree of skill employed and the amount of relevant intelligence unearthed can vary dramatically.

Marketplace Intelligence = Marketing Power

Focused research is the critical first step in the quest to develop—and successfully promote—market-driven products and services. Its value to an organization goes far beyond the ability to gather accurate facts and information.

The accumulated insights and intelligence derived from systematically collected and carefully analyzed research information can help an organization

  • develop customer-focused products and services
  • create focused marketing and distribution strategies
  • craft a targeted positioning strategy that will create relevant differentiation and competitive advantage within a well-defined market niche
  • ensure that the right distribution channels deliver the right products and services to the right target markets using the right messaging.

Good research enables a company to look at products and services from a customer’s point of view and develop realistic market perspectives and relevant insights. Research can reveal not only who will buy a product or service, but also when, where, how and why they will buy it. Armed with this marketplace intelligence, a company can then develop marketing messages and promotional approaches that will successfully guide customers through the purchase decision process.

Tell Them You Have What They Want

Every marketer knows that customers are looking for products and services that solve their problems and satisfy their needs and wants. Therefore, the test of an effective marketing message is its ability to make a strong benefit statement. The reality, however, is that most financial services marketing does not focus on the customer. Most companies spend millions of dollars attempting to attract customers with features—e.g. performance, yields, product options, ancillary services, etc. Very few communicate the single most powerful element that can help them close the sale—a compelling benefit statement that clearly addresses the result that the customer hopes to achieve.

According to an old adage, people don’t go to the hardware store to get a ¼ inch drill bit, they go to satisfy their need for a ¼-inch hole. As a result, successful marketers have long sought to compellingly illustrate the benefits of a product, rather than the product itself. For example:

  • Don’t sell fireplaces; sell the glow of embers and the comfort of heat.
  • Don’t sell marketing books; sell the ability to improve your business.
  • Don’t sell cell phones; sell social connectivity.
  • Don’t sell sky boxes; sell prestige.

The most successful consumer product marketers understand that benefit-driven marketing will resonate with their target markets and sell products. To cite just a few:

  • Bayer doesn’t sell aspirin, it sells a daily preventative for heart attacks.
  • Tic Tac doesn’t sell breath mints, it sells social acceptance.
  • Calvin Klein doesn’t sell perfume, it sells sex.
  • Coca-Cola doesn’t sell a soft drink, it sells “the pause that refreshes.”

Time Well Spent

Conducting a focused, in-depth research initiative and rigorously categorizing and analyzing the accrued data are labor intense activities. It takes time and patience to find the right answers and properly identify marketplace preferences and priorities. It is important not only to probe, but to probe well. The return on the corporate investment, however, is more than commensurate with the resources expended. Good research provides a strong foundation on which the company can build market-driven products and marketing initiatives that will contribute to the bottom line for years to come. As Abraham Lincoln put it, “If I had but three hours to chop down that tree, I’d spend the first two hours sharpening my ax.”

The Bottom Line

Financial services providers that haven’t done the requisite marketing homework still try to entice customers by highlighting the features of their products and services, rather than the benefits they can provide. However, those who are customer-driven and have established effective competitive differentiation are missing an invaluable opportunity if they fail to take the logical ‘next step’ and begin to communicate with customers, on their terms. In brief, tell them you can give ‘em what they want. Your reward will be increased marketplace acceptance and significant incremental returns.