She retorted, "Why does it always have to be about you? This is about the company I work for."
"Then you have accomplished your goal perfectly," I said "However, we do not live in an altruistic world. While you may see all the ‘good’ in asking for more business, the recipient of this may not and usually does not see any value unless you specifically point it out to them. You must go out of your way to demonstrate the benefits of each and every product. You must clearly demonstrate a value proposition from the recipient’s perspective. You have to put yourself in the recipient’s shoes and continually ask yourself, ‘What’s in it for me.’ (WIIFM)"
I totally lost her...
Buyers do not care about the features of a company or their products, what they care about are the benefit they derive as a result of buying a product or service. Features and benefits are completely different, yet so many marketing professionals struggle to articulate the differences.
In addition to the importance of promoting features over benefits I decided to jot down some other things I've learned over the years about written communications. These are in no particular order and none are more or less important than any other. Here we go:
You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of the recipient. Not only must your communication stand out from the hundreds of messages the recipient is bombarded with every day, you must keep our messages short, simple and specific. You must be respectful of the recipient’s time.
You should not assume the recipient understands a subtle call to action. Therefore, you must specifically ‘ask’ the recipient to do something -- immediately.
You should demonstrate urgency in your call to action. The ‘time to act is now.’ If the recipient does not act right away, the odds of them coming back to it later are slim to none.
You should not use industry jargon. Sure jargon can be a short hand communication method for those familiar with your industry. However, recipients clearly do not understand industry jargon. Therefore jargon must be avoided.
You should assume the recipient knows little or nothing about what you are covering. Therefore, you must go out of our way to explain complicate terms and conditions in laymen’s terms.
You should take great care to make sure your communications are positive and personable. Business relies on relationships -- people only buy from people they trust.
You should always also try to instill upon the recipient the value in referring other people to buy from you. You should ask for referrals wherever possible.
In summary, go out of your way to explain the positive result of products or services rather than barf-up all of the features it may have. People don't care about how it works, they want to know how they benefit from using it... and that's why I care about 'What's in it for you.'