When potential clients are listening to you explain your services, there is always one burning question on their minds. When prospective employees are evaluating your firm as a possible place to work, they have the same burning question. And when you’re trying to convince people to adopt a new way of doing something, they also have the same question! The question on everyone’s mind is “What’s in it for me?” Typically, as people listen to you or read your website or other promotional materials, they are trying to find out why they should be interested in your message, what they will get, and how their lives or their businesses will improve . Unfortunately, many times we take too long to let people know why they should be interested, or worse – we never answer the BIG question! By answering “What’s in it for me?”, you can drastically increase the chances that your ideas will be adopted, that potential employees will be attracted to what your firm has to offer and that people will engage you to do business with them.
In our communications, we typically bombard our listeners with features, which are the things or facts about your topic. For a prospective client, features are the services of deliverables that they will “get” (i.e., a tax return, schedules, an audit report, a financial statement, a personal financial plan). Our communications typically don’t include benefits, which illustrate the end result that they will gain when engaging your firm. For example, in our marketing materials or prospect meetings, many people focus on telling prospective client all about their firm, their qualifications, the tasks and services that they can perform. But, it is much more effective to appeal to their self interest by emphasizing the benefits – or the end result – that the prospective client will achieve, such as time savings, money savings, less stress, peace of mind, etc. If you have seen a bulleted list of services without an explanation of what that service translates into for the client, then that is a list of features and is missing the benefits.
Consider training yourself to start writing and speaking in “benefits language.” Dig a little bit deeper to identify what’s in it for your listener by adopting your idea, becoming employed by your firm or choosing to work with your firm. Figure out how to appeal to their self-interest so that they can get excited about what you are offering. You are looking for an emotional response, trying to pinpoint a desire to gain something or reduce some pain or discomfort. This is a different way of communicating and usually requires more forethought and preparation than we’re used to. But, once you get in the habit of doing it, you will start doing it more naturally and won’t have to work as hard to uncover the deeper benefit. We have created a tool called the Features Benefits Exercise to help you start thinking, speaking, and writing in benefits language and you can download your copy by clicking here. The intention is to help you produce what we call “Features/Benefits Statements” that includes both features and benefits. I am not saying that the features are not important, they are and people will want to know about them, but it is also important to highlight the benefits of those features as well.
To create features benefits statements, I recommend doing what I call the “So that” exercise, which is to write the words “so that” next to the feature, fact or service and then write the deeper benefit or the end result of the feature, fact or service. For example, you might write “Personal Financial Planning, so that you can have confidence about the security of your financial future.” Notice that the words “personal financial planning” don’t really invoke any emotions but when you hear the words that come after “so that,” you’re more likely to feel something inside, like excitement and peace of mind or less stress and reduced fear and uncertainty.
When you communicate the difference you will make in the listeners life and articulate the benefits or outcome they can expect, you will enable the listener to envision the possibilities that will result from your service, opportunity, or idea. Take a moment to strategize about a conversation that you will be having or a message you need to deliver in the near future and identify how you can communicate to your listener in benefits language. And, be sure to let me know how it goes!
P.S. Communicating in benefits language and answering the WIIFM question works on spouses and children too. Instead of telling my daughter that she had to clean her room because I said so, I instead told her that when her room is clean, she can find all of her pretty clothes and toys that get lost in the mess when it’s a disaster area. Try it and see how effective your communications become!