News flash: Your customers aren’t buying features, and they’re not buying benefits.
As much as you’ve been told that that’s what they want, they simply don’t.
You might have been told to sell the sizzle, not the steak, but that kind of language is completely backwards.
And worse, it keeps the focus on you.
Your customers aren’t buying what you’re selling. Your customers are buying a solution to a problem they have that your product or service solves.
They don’t want features, they don’t want benefits, what they want is a solution to a problem.
And they’re willing to pay good money to solve a particularly sticky problem.
Which means, on the one hand, you’re off the hook
You don’t have to explain the inner workings of your solution.
You don’t have to talk about how many steps or how complicated it is.
You only need to focus on the unique problem that you solve.
For a good example of this, look no further than the diet industry.
Have you seen an ad for a weight loss program? If you’ve been on the internet, even a minute, chances are, you have.
What’s missing from those ads?
Think about it.
We’ll get to what’s missing in a minute, but while we’re here, let’s talk about where those types of ads excel.
Before and after pictures.
These pictures, and their corresponding captions, do a really great job of letting you, the viewer, imagine yourself transforming.
You see people describe what life was like before (dark and bad) and what it’s like now (light and good).
What’s missing then?
You got it: specifics of the program.
There’s nothing prescriptive about these ads.
Nothing that indicates what you’ll learn, not really.
The names of these programs aren’t “A salad and 20 pushups a day to a new you.”
Now, my guess is, you’re not in the diet industry.
And you think that what people need is more information. More knowledge. More… salads.
But that’s where you’re mistaken.
Your product or service is all about transformation as well.
Focus on the transformation and you’ll find much greater success.
Focus on the what and the why, and leave the “how to” for your customers.
Why would someone need to solve this problem that they’re having?
What’s life like now?
What will life be like after they transform?
Focus on that.
Don’t focus on what happens inside the chrysalis.
How to find the problems that your ideal clients are having: Elevator Rants, from Same Side Selling
The concept of elevator rants comes from the book, Same Side Selling by Ian Altman.
Think about this: two of your ideal customers get onto an elevator. They’re at work, and they’re heading to lunch after a particularly stressful morning.
The stress involves a problem that your company just so happens to be able to solve.
In the time it takes them to get from the fifth floor to their car, what are they complaining about?
What type of language do they use?
What aren’t they saying?
What are the ten most frustrating things they’re dealing with, that, if they knew about you, would magically disappear?
And what aren’t they saying?
Spend some time on this. It’s NOT the same thing as an elevator pitch, where you do the talking.
No. In this elevator, you’re a fly on the wall.
These frustrated customers don’t know about you or your solution. They’re still working with someone else.
So start telling their stories.
Who are they, specifically? You don’t have to name names, but you do want to paint a picture.
Why did they come to you in the first place?
What does life look like for them now?
Transformation stories are the backbone of content marketing.
Once you start telling the stories of your actual customers, their transformation stories, you’ve naturally mapped out a path to purchase.
This type of storytelling will mean that you never run out of content.
Plenty of people, including the people who hire us for content marketing, worry that they’re being repetitive.
That what they have to say has been said before, and better, on competitors’ websites.
But I’m here to tell you that’s not true, and even if it were true, your customers still need to hear it from you.
They need to see that your solution works, that you can solve their problem.
How are you going to do that?
Through transformation stories.
The more stories you tell, the more likely your prospects are to see themselves in those stories.
So if you can keep talking about their problems, and the transformation process — their stories — chances are they’re going to be able to picture the transformation process for themselves.
The buyer’s journey
Remember that your prospects are all caterpillars.
Your customers are hopefully all butterflies.
Your product/service/offer is the catalyst for change.
So tell those transformation stories.
Tell stories about every part of your customer’s journey.
And once you tell enough stories about transformation, your prospects are going to see themselves in those stories and they will be more connected to you.
Marketing is the bridge between where your prospects are now and where they will be after they transform.
You want your prospects to transform even if they don’t buy your specific solution.
You want every one of those caterpillars to turn into butterflies.
The key is to define marketing based on your target audience.
Focus on the problem that your product or service solves.
Conclusion: People buy solutions to their problems, and relate to stories that are about them.
If you focus on the problem, not the solution, you’ll never run out of content. The best way to get people to connect with you is to tell enough stories about people like them, so they can visualize the transformation that you promise so they can see themselves in your stories.