Chapter 17 Owning a powerful benefit (what is the ‘itch’ that only Brand YOU can scratch for your consumer?)
What is a benefit? A paycheck? A social service cheque? Unemployment payments? How about a bonus payment at the end of the year? Yes, these are benefits of a sort. But the type of benefit we are talking about is different. What benefit do YOU – the brand – offer to your consumers?
The benefit we are talking about is the consumer’s real reward that they get from your being a part of their lives. It goes much beyond money, a home, food and clothing, toys and other ‘things’. They can get those things elsewhere. Sometimes, they can get much more elsewhere – hence the high divorce rate prevalent in society today.
No, we are talking about providing a real scratch for an itch that the consumer has – and you are the scratcher. We are talking about the result of a deep understanding of what your consumer – your boss, your family, your co-workers – need and are currently missing in their lives, and being able to fill that gap, scratch that itch for them in such a way that the result is nothing short of a gigantic AAAAHHHHH for them.
Are you with me? Good. But, how do you go about building your ‘owned benefit’?
Start by reviewing your capsule. What was the core idea there? You have to push past the simple descriptive features of what you offer – these can be replicated and matched easily enough. No, you need to offer real benefits, and there are three types of benefits that you can offer:
1. Functional Advantage:
a. Brand X – ‘Helps you go longer, stronger…’
b. Brand Y – ‘Strengthens the digestive tract!’
c. Brand YOU – ‘Makes sure his family has the best lifestyle money can buy!”
2. Emotional Payoff
a. Brand X – ‘You will feel primed to pounce on every opportunity!’
b. Brand Y – ‘It will give you wings!’
c. Brand YOU – ‘Stands by her spouse through thick and thin!’
3. Experiential Reward
a. Brand X – ‘You’ll feel that second wind kick in…’
b. Brand Y – ‘Tastes like a blast of cold Rocky Mountain air…’
c. Brand YOU – ‘When I delegate a task to her, I have total peace of mind because I know it’s going to be done!’
Your owned benefit must meet the following criteria:
1. Is it Desirable: “I want that!”
No explanation should be required. It should answer the simple question – ‘What’s in it for me?’
2. Is it Deliverable: “I can tell this person can do what they say”
Will the consumer see the promise as being fulfilled? Don’t disappoint your consumers… you will lose them!
3. Is it Defensible: “Only this person owns this, and it is unique to them”
Can you own the association? It must be seen as your promise, and nobody else’s!
Remember – the benefit you own must be singular. The old adage of “you can’t be all things to all people” is never more true than here. Choose carefully.
A quick look at the technical difference between a Feature, a Function & a real Benefit might be helpful at this stage, as you start to work out your unique owned benefit, because the sad thing is that even seasoned marketers sometimes get this wrong.
1. Feature: a descriptive fact – something a product HAS.
E.g. The car you drive, the suit you wear, the accessories you carry.
2. Function: an operational advantage – something a product does.
E.g. The charities you support, the job you do, the sports you play.
3. Benefit: the real reward from the features & functions.
E.g. the real itch that you scratch for your consumer, which comes from what kind of a person you are, the values you hold. That makes you the father you are, the boss, the co-worker and the colleague.
Let me introduce you to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow postulated a theory that has come to be central to helping marketers understand consumer behaviour as it pertains to brands. It basically says that there are five stages of needs that all human beings evolve through:
The hierarchy helps us to understand the way our needs – and those of our target consumers – develop and evolve over time, and in different situations. Why is this important? Because the benefit we offer our consumer has to answer that need – and any tool that can help us to reach a better understanding of needs and need states must be used!
Basically, the model says that until basic physiological needs – food, water, shelter etc. – are met, we cannot worry about higher level needs, such as health, friendship, self-esteem or overcome our prejudices… indeed, the hierarchy is a very powerful tool to help us understand ourselves and our reactions in various situations as well.
Look at the hierarchy – what happens when one level of needs is not met? Is it possible for someone to be successful in love when he or she is concerned about his or her safety and wellbeing?
So, if you are to be successful in offering a true benefit to your consumer, you need to truly understand your consumers’ as well as possible. Since we are talking about multiple consumers, you need to really dig deep and build a broad-based understanding that will stand you in good stead as you try to offer benefits that make you irreplaceable in the lives of those people.
Another useful tool is called the “mental mirror”. Here’s how it works:
a. HOW DO THEY FEEL NOW?
b. HOW ARE YOU MAKING THEM FEEL?
a. Sheepishly confused by the complexity of financial documents
b. Publicly confident with the ease of the numbers as explained by you, their go-to person for accounting enigmas
a. Defeated & lost because of the flu
b. Calm and relaxed, resting in bed, knowing that everything will be alright
a. Exhausted & bitter from lack of sleep because the baby is teething, and crying all night
b. Positively refreshed by the respite that you bring by staying up all night with the baby
a. Dejected by the onset of old age
b. Jubilant at the way you make them feel about their future
Take your time with this. Identifying the real benefit Brand YOU offers, or are going to offer is central – and vital – to your long-term success.
Chapter 18 RTB (Reason-To-Believe – why should anyone buy what you’re selling?)
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need an RTB – a reason for people to accept the unique brand that is YOU. They would simply see YOU for what you are – an invaluable, irreplaceable part of their lives.
Unfortunately, that is often not the way it is. People can be quite cynical sometimes, specially when the new Brand Identity you have developed and are trying to bring to life is a significant deviation from what you have demonstrated and owned in the past. At least initially, it will need some convincing – and a good Reason To Believe can be essential part of your new Brand ID.
If you can do without, please do. If you can’t, then remember to keep it simple. Ask yourself if your consumer will demand ‘proof’ of what you have promised – the benefit you will deliver. If the answer is “Yes”, then choose the simplest proof that is directly related to the benefit – and the key word is ‘simple’.
There are three major criteria to keep in mind when selecting a powerful RTB:
1. Is it plausibly unique?
Is it unique, first? If not, then it could be hard to own. For example: ‘dependable’. You might indeed embody this trait, but can you own it entirely? And second, is it uniquely true about YOU? Only YOU? If it isn’t, then it may not work. Now if you can tweak it so that ‘dependable’ becomes something more, then it might be more powerful. “Never misses a ball game”. “Never fails to deliver insightful commentary that is bound to have you in stitches.” And so on.
2. Is it persuasive?
Does the Reason to Believe that you have come up with really ‘prove’ the benefit? Will your consumer nod his or her head upon hearing this and say – yes, I get that! If not, probably needs a bit of re-thinking. Remember, if it is needed at all, it must be convincing, or it is worse than useless.
3. Is it a ‘put-away’ shot?
Does it nail the positioning as YOURS? Is it a slam-dunk? Again, if it isn’t, then perhaps don’t bother with it at all. Because this is your final attempt to convince someone of the benefit of starting / continuing to engage with your brand, and after this, there is nothing else left in your arsenal. It better work.
Where can you find a “Reason To Believe” that meets the criteria above? Here are some possible areas:
1. Is there something about you that is unique – anything? How about your heritage? Ethnicity? Education? Experience? Character? Personality? Passions? All or any of these might make an interesting start point. Remember, what and who you are IS actually unique – and if you are struggling to find a uniqueness, its only because you have never actually looked at yourself in this way before. Also, if you are struggling to define your own uniqueness – guess how hard it must be for someone else to identify what makes you into a brand worthy of attention and engagement?
2. What are your passions? What do you believe in, strive for, drive towards? Are you a scoutmaster? A calligrapher? A football coach for the local primary school? These passions can provide a unique and compelling RTB that supports the benefit you are trying to own.
3. Who are the people that choose to be with you – choose your ‘brand’ – and why? Do they ‘get’ the benefit that you want to offer and own, or is it for other reasons? E.g. do you want people to acknowledge you for your creativity – but the real reason that they hang with you is that you are wealthy and can spend money fecklessly when you are with them? Or are you striving to be recognized for your accounting skills – but the boss only sees you as someone safe to flirt with (because you might not openly reject him / her for fear of consequences).
So, in a nutshell – have an RTB only if you must have one. Having said that, if your desired Brand Identity requires a significant departure from the Identity you currently have (not the one you THINK you have) then you will almost certainly need a powerful Reason To believe. And it better be a slam-dunk.
Because after you present your RTB, that’s it… if your target audience still doesn’t buy into Brand YOU, then they are probably never going to. Let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that, but if it does, I will do my best to help you re-evaluate the work you have done so far, and get you on the right track. My e-mail is omar at brandhotline.com. Hopefully, you won’t need my help, but if you do, I’m here to help.