Features or benefits: Remembering the marketing foundations

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Bernie Heer, in a blog posting for residential contractors, reminds us of a marketing and sales fundamental — if you focus on the (emotional) benefits, you’ll more likely sell the service than if you allocate your communications to product/service features.

One of the painting contractors I work with likes to say, “Don’t tell me about the labor pains… just show me the baby.”

Although I teach contractors to educate prospects about their building process in order to differentiate themselves from their competitors, the focus of your presentation needs to be on the end result.

Stop talking about the date they’re going to sign your agreement and start talking about the date that they’re going to have their new kitchen or bath or addition and are enjoying the benefits.

It’s important for us to understand the client’s place and state-of-mind, and yes, this includes the bureaucratic procurement officer or expert committee that may be reviewing your RFP response for a public sector technical project. Yes you undoubtedly must follow the compliance requirements — especially in openly bid projects where there can be dozens of responses. You don’t want to be screened on technicalities.

I think you need to go further — and really know the mind-set of the decision-makers, without making assumptions.

So, how do you discover this information?

The first, and best solution, is to make your connections before the RFP becomes anywhere public — and that is why incumbent contractors and (in especially the US under the Brooks Act, design professionals, always have the edge.)  If you don’t have that relationship or connection — if you are trying to walk in the front door when your competitor is already inside, you have a clear case for a “no go” in bidding the work, unless you have some special or unique expertise, local or otherwise overwhelming advantage.

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