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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

The Difference Between Product Features and Benefits

Last week, the Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) tribe learned how AIDAR demonstrates each step of the sales/marketing process. This week, Lucy explains why understanding of a product’s benefits is crucial to selling a product into a target marketplace. Remember, fire = print.

Lucy called a meeting the next morning to announce the new matches that Marka had recently invented. She gave each FEI tribe member a pack of matches to try out.

“These are beautiful,” Numo said. “Look at all the features! The durable wood! The rough match head! I can’t wait to tell potential buyers about every detail!”

Lucy smiled. “I admire your enthusiasm, Numo. But you just described the features of a match. We’re not selling features—we’re selling benefits. There’s a difference.”

“Please enlighten me,” Numo said sincerely.

“Features aren’t compelling,” Lucy explained. “Even irregular togas and three-wheeled chariots have features. By clearly communicating the benefits of our new matches rather than their features, our marketing activities will be more likely to inspire action within our target markets.”

“If features are straightforward descriptions of a product, what are benefits?” Numo asked.

“Benefits provide value for the customer,” Lucy answered. “Benefits tell potential buyers what they’ll get out of the product and how it will help solve problems in their everyday life.”

Zoot bent his match until it formed a ‘U.’ “What problems could this dumb thing possibly solve?”

“Just check out this presentation I’ve put together,” Lucy said enthusiastically.

She flipped the lights and started the O-projector. A sad man in a toga appeared on screen, crouched before a burnt-out campfire.

“Before matches,” Lucy began, “this man would’ve had to trek 20 minutes back to his cabin to get a torch. Now thanks to matches...”

Lucy moved to the next slide, which showed the happy man warming his hands over a newly-lit fire.

“Voila! Matches provide convenience. When you need a fire but aren’t near a hearth, reach for a match.”
The next slide showed a confused woman in a ripped toga.

“These matches also provide safety. Our matches will guide you home safely each night.”

The next slide showed the happy woman using a match to navigate through the dense Olympian forest.

“Finally, matches provide peace-of-mind.” The last slide showed a serene-looking man patting a bulge in his toga pocket.  “A carton of matches in your pocket means heat and light are only a flick away.”

“A product with benefits is a differentiated product, right?” Marka asked.

“Yes,” Lucy replied. “And now that we’ve created differentiation for these matches, we can figure out how well they should sell.”

Numo turned his attention from his flickering match and said, “And once we know that, we can figure out how to get back our investment.”

“The next step is setting price,” Lucy continued.

“I say we make the matches $400 a piece,” Zoot joked. “That way we only have to sell a couple boxes.”

No one laughed at the rare comedic flop by Zoot.

Now that FEI had figured out its core competencies, position within its targeted marketplace and product differentiation, more strategic activities such as setting price could begin. It was like Prometheus once said, “Know what you’re selling, or no one will buy it!”

Today’s FIRE! Point
Benefits create product differentiation and eliminate commodity-like pricing pressures. When marketing your product, focus on how it helps solve problems and generally make life easier for those in your target market.

FIRE! In Action
Five Guys Burgers and Fries Makes a Quality Product and Succeeds: It Really is That Easy

The chain offers fresh, 80 percent lean meat burgers and water-boiled Idaho potato fries. This no-gimmick burger experience has generated $500 million of revenue and more than 436 locations.

Next week: Lucy explains the perils of price discounting to the tribe.

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