Friday, July 9, 2010

CONSIDER ELEVATING YOUR BENEFIT…IF YOU HAVE ONE

Elevating your benefit is a marketing move that should be under constant consideration. I am referring to the benefit that you may or may not have included in your critical sales message. In the branding world, that message is referred to as your selling proposition. In almost every product or service I have positioned, the benefit, if properly supported, has turned out to be the strongest trigger to cause consumers to purchase. However, as I plough through the world of consumer goods and services marketing, I rarely ever see benefits used in the selling propositions I encounter. I think it’s because business owners are so focused on their businesses they forget what’s in it for the purchaser…the benefit.

This shortage of benefits is good news for you. Even though you too are not likely using one in your current selling proposition, your competition is unlikely either. Let’s assume for the moment that one of you, either you or your competition, is using a benefit effectively. If it’s your competition, you are likely suffering at the effect of them having done so. If it’s you that is using a benefit…congratulations. In either case, now is the time to elevate.

A number of years ago, the children’s educational software category was dominated by a brand that used a benefit to drive its selling proposition, and in turn, its sales. The brand is Reader Rabbit and the selling proposition is based on the benefit its brand name infers. The benefit is essentially that your child will be more likely to engage in the process of learning if it is also being entertained by a rabbit. That selling proposition was very effective, and for a long time allowed the Reader Rabbit brand to dominate the category until a new brand was introduced that used a higher order of benefit. Let me demonstrate what I mean by a higher order.

Years ago I discovered that if you asked business owners or their consumers to tell you what the benefit is for any product or service, they will generally give you a performance attribute or a very low form of a benefit. If you then tell them to consider that they have that benefit in their lives, and again ask what the benefit of having that is, they will begin going up what I call a benefit ladder. At the top of all benefit ladders, no matter what the product or service is I’m happy.

That makes sense if you think about it. Here are two different ladders, one for cat litter, the other for allergy medicine. Start at the bottom of each, work up the ladder and you will get the point.

Here is what happened to the rabbit. I am going to say that the benefit for Reader Rabbit is SMART KID. At about that time a second marketing team, one I happened to be a part of, identified a new selling proposition that was based on the perceived mindset of parents. We launched a brand called Jump Start. The Jump Start positioning was based on the perceived benefit of a parent’s desire to give their child an advantage over other kids. I am going to say the benefit for Jump Start is PROUD PARENT. If we had the advantage of showing you a benefit ladder for the children’s educational software category, the Jump Start benefit is clearly elevated and above that of Reader Rabbit.


Sales for Jump Start Kindergarten, the initial product offered by this new brand, were extraordinarily strong. In short time, The Jump Start brand took over the category, and the Reader Rabbit brand became a shadow of its former self. This is an event that happened well over ten years ago. There is a double learning here.

The first is that of continually perusing the next elevated benefit. You should not only be looking for the benefit that will drive your product or service forward, you should be looking for the elevated benefit that will drive it beyond that. If you can get into this mind set, you will alter the success pattern of your business forever. If you are a small business thinking I have just disclosed a secret marketing tool commonly used by the big boys, I have a news flash for you. The big boys are too busy being tangled up in their every day marketing issues to stay present to this critical marketing distinction just like the smaller entrepreneurs. No one is minding the store where this marketing distinction is concerned.

The second learning illustrates this point very well. In the ensuing years, after the introduction, neither of these brands has attempted to elevate beyond the status quo. I cannot say why because I am not in contact with either brand. Perhaps neither brand has figured out what took place. Stay vigilant.

Cheers, 

Keith Chambers

Keynote Marketing Speaker
Creative Marketing Consultant
(310) 473-0010
www.chambersgroup.com


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