If you are a technology business who is communicating the benefits of your products or services, don’t assume that these benefits have to be quantified. Qualitative benefits can work just as well.
But what are benefits?
As Kayla Carmichael has noted, features answer the “what” question, while benefits answer the “why” question.
She notes that a company’s clients don’t care if your vacuum cleaner has a washable lifetime filter. That’s just a feature, or what the product does.
Your clients care about eliminating extra costs, which is the benefit that the washable lifetime filter provides, and why the client should care.
How do you discover benefits?
Let’s say your boss tells you to write about the washable lifetime filter. Imagine that you’re conversing with one of your clients, and you tell them that your vacuum cleaner has a washable lifetime filter.
Now imagine that your client responds…
You respond that the client only has to buy one filter, rather than buying a new one every few months.
(Yes, your client may ask the “so what” question several times, like a small child. And you should do the same, to dive down into the true benefits of a particular feature.)
To the client’s last “so what” question, you respond that the client will save money!
Now the client is impressed and knows why they should care about your washable lifetime filter.
Quantitative benefits are great
In certain cases, the client may be even more impressed if the benefits can be expressed in numeric form.
For example, let’s say that a disposable vacuum cleaner filter costs $35 and lasts for 6 months. I have no idea whether these numbers are accurate; my last name isn’t Hoover, after all.
Whoops, not those Hoovers. I couldn’t find a picture of William Henry “Boss” Hoover or son Herbert William Hoover Sr.
Back to my guesses about disposable vacuum cleaner filters. If my numbers are correct, you can tell your client that your washable lifetime filter can save the client $700 over a ten-year period. Depending on your price points, the savings may be more than the cost of the vacuum cleaner itself. (Again, I’m not Hoover, so don’t quote me.)
With a couple of fancy leaps of logic, you could then say to the client:
“Would you like to MAKE money by buying this vacuum cleaner?”
Hey, whatever works. I’m a marketer, not a salesperson.
But qualitative benefits can be just as great
You can’t always quantify benefits, because to quantify benefits you need data, and you may not have the data close at hand. The data may not even exist.
This won’t stop your marketing efforts, though, since qualitative benefits can be just as powerful as quantative ones.
I’m going to take the marketer’s easy way out and just cite something that Apple did. I’ll admit that Apple sometimes has some pretty stupid statements (“It’s black!“).
But sometimes the company grabs people’s attention with its messaging.
Take this July 2022 article, “How Apple is empowering people with their health information.”
You probably already saw the words “empowering people” in the title. Sure, people like health information…but they really like power.
There are more examples within the article:
- Referring to an underlying report, the article states that “The first section describes Apple’s focus on personal health and fitness features on Apple Watch and iPhone that offer actionable, science-based insights.” So what? It turns out these actionable, science-based insights “help protect users’ health and safety.”
- Apple’s chief operating officer, Jeff Williams, is quoted as saying “We believe passionately that technology can play a role in improving health outcomes.” Nice, but Williams subsequently returns to the power theme: “…they’re no longer passengers on their own health journey. Instead, we want people to be firmly in the driver’s seat.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Apple has referred to empowering the individual. The company has done this for decades. Remember (then) Apple Computer’s slogan, “The Power to Be Your Best”? If you missed that particular slogan, here’s a commercial.
There’s not one statistic in that commercial. It doesn’t say that the Macintosh computer would equip you to jump 5% higher, or sing on key 99.9% of the time. And Apple Computer didn’t claim that the Macintosh would equip you to draw bridge images 35.2% faster.
But the viewer could see that a Macintosh computer, with its graphical user interface, its support of then-new graphic programs, and (not shown in the ad) the ability to distribute the output of these graphic programs via laser printers, gave Macintosh users the power to…well, the power to be their best.
And some potential computer buyers perceived that this power provided infinite value.
As you work out your benefit statements, don’t give up if the benefits cannot be quantified. As long as the benefits resonate with the customer, qualitative benefits are just fine.
What are your benefits?
Before you draft your marketing material, or ask someone to draft it for you, you need to decide what your benefits are.
I’ve written a book about benefits, and five other things that you need to settle before creating marketing content.
Click on the image below, find the e-book at the bottom of the page, and skip to page 11 to read about benefits.
Feel free to read the rest of the book also.