What are you selling?

1. Overview

Whilst the answer to this question may seem obvious, your approach to it can be the difference between success and failure. This section helps you to define your product or service in a way that maximises success.

2. Features and Benefits

Very often a business responds to the questions ‘What are you selling?’ with a basic description of the features of their product or service. They do not consider what the customer wants, they simply tell the customer what is on offer.

Let’s look at some examples.

Features of a mobile phone:

  • it has a minimalist design
  • it has smart dial technology
  • and it has a 4.3inch Gorilla Glass screen

The second example is the features for someone offering a plumbing service:

  • I am a qualified and experienced plumber
  • I am Gas Safe registered
  • I am on 24-hour call-out

Would you want to buy either of these? Is there anything in the description that excites or interests you? Probably not, after all in both cases it is simply a list of features.

Now let’s look beyond the features and decide what benefits each of these offers for the customer.

A benefit answers the question in your customers’ mind “What’s in it for me?” The customer wants to know if what you are offering has value for them.

To uncover the benefits of your product or service, look at the feature and ask yourself “so what?” or add “which means that…” after the description of the feature.

Let’s see how this works in our examples.

Mobile Phone

Featurewhich means thatBenefit

Minimalist designIt’s a great looking phone to make your friends say “Wow!”

Smart dial technologyIt’s a fast and easy way to make calls and find contacts even when you don’t know the number

A 4.3inch Gorilla Glass screenIt has a large enough screen to see easily and doesn’t scratch or shatter when dropped

 

Plumbing Service

Featurewhich means thatBenefit

Qualified and experienced plumberWe’ve seen most problems and know how to fix things quickly and efficiently

Gas Safe registeredQualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances and you get a certificate to explain the work done

24-hour call-outSo whatever the time of day or night that you have a problem, call us

 

You can see how these benefits are much more powerful than simply stating the features.

An easy way to remember the difference between features and benefits is that features tell whilst benefits sell.

Use this turning features into benefits exercise (MS Word 17kb) to look at the features of your product or service and turn them into benefits for your customer.

3. What makes you stand out?

As well as explaining the benefits to your customer, you want to make sure that your customer understands how you are different from your competitors. After all, most businesses are similar to others in their market – very few are one-of-a-kind.

So what is it that makes you stand out?

This is known as your USP – your Unique Selling Point.

It isn’t easy to find your USP. You have to put yourself into your customers’ shoes. Ask yourself - what is it that they really want?

What can you say that will gain their attention?

(You may also want to think about what will bore them and leave those things out!)

Let’s look again at our examples:

Mobile Phone – let’s say that you discover that your customers are really frustrated with phones that are complicated and that take several steps to find a contact’s details. In this case, your USP could be “the mobile phone that makes finding your contacts quick and easy with just one finger stroke.”

Plumbing Service – let’s say that you discover the biggest problem people have, is having to leave a message when they call, and never knowing if the plumber will call back. In this case, your USP could be “the only plumber to guarantee to call you back within an hour”.

Remember, you must be able to deliver against your USP. Don’t make promises you cannot keep!

Ideas for businesses in Wales

As a business based in Wales, one important plus is the opportunity to use the distinctiveness of Wales and the Welsh language within your business. This may be directly as part of your product or service, or in the way you interact with your customers or as part of your promotional activity.  You may consider using the Welsh character of your business as part of your USP.

Here are some examples:

  • a restaurant could make a feature of local Welsh produce in their menus – and, perhaps, write their menus in both English and Welsh
  • a hotel could add distinctive Welsh touches to their décor
  • for a service business, a USP could be to offer the service in both English and Welsh languages
  • a computer maintenance business could have an English and a Welsh Help Desk

Are there any opportunities to consider for your business?

4. What do you do?

One of the most difficult things for a new business is to quickly and succinctly explain what they do. Someone asks you “What do you do?” and you suddenly struggle to find the right words or go into a long and rambling description. Neither of these responses is helpful.

Being able to sum up the unique aspects of your business and the product or service you offer in a way that interests people is critical to your success.

Here is a simple template to help you.

  • I (do this)
  • for (your ideal customer)
  • so that they can (benefit or result to the customer).

Let’s see how this works in our 2 examples.

Mobile Phone:

  • I sell mobile phones
  • to people who have lots of contacts and want to call them quickly and easily
  • without having to be a technical whizz to find their details

Plumbing Service:

  • I’m a busy plumber
  • working just in the Cardiff area
  • and I always guarantee to contact callers within an hour

Use this template to answer the question What do you do? (MS Word 17kb)

 

Next: Know Your Customer