3 min read

The #1 Marketing Tip Your Startup Needs to Know

Updated to include the new Samsung Galaxy S4 ads and how they compare to Apple’s on August 12, 2013.

So what’s the #1 marketing tip your startup needs to know? Well, it is a tip that focuses on how to sell your startup product or service to customers (or investors!). And, it’s actually quite simple.

Sell the benefits, not the features

Might sound obvious, but in reality, most startups fail to do this.

Let’s take a look at a simple example to illustrate the difference.

How most startups sell their product or service

How startups should sell their product or service

If you were buying a hammer, which would you buy? Why would you buy it?

Do you really know if those features (in Hammer 2.0) will make your life better? Maybe the rubber will be grippier and easier to hold. The polished head looks cool, does it make your life better? Does the curve claw type make it easy to pull stuck nails?

Don’t describe what it is. Describe what you can do with it.

In the 2nd example, look at how clear the benefits of this hammer are stated. Your construction job will be a lot easier with a 70% shock reduction for a repeated-use job. And you don’t have to worry about losing it, the bright yellow will make it easy to spot. And if any nails get stuck, the rip claws will make it easy to remove them.

Listerine does a great job of describing its benefits

When you’re comparing products on a shelf, do you go with the one with 6 clear benefits? Or the one that doesn’t list any at all?

6 Benefits in 1

Apple vs. Samsung

Apple shows the benefits of an iPhone 5

No mention of features like camera, video, auto-focus, crop, apps, email, etc. Just benefits of those features in action.

Samsung shows the benefits of a Galaxy S4

Again, no mentions of specific features like a huge screen, touchless glass, or automatic video-photo conversion. Just the benefits, again, in action.

Which phone would you chose? Samsung makes an extremely compelling case. While Apple relays the benefits to the inner-photography, Samsung’s approach appeals to the backyard, BBQ-ing American, which is, a much larger, more mainstream USA audience than Apple’s approach.

Benefits alone, Samsung Galaxy S4 wins hands down in this ad comparison.

Are you selling features or benefits?

So how are you selling your startup product or service?

Startups are so intimate with their solution they forget this fact: 98% of people are consumers, not creators. They don’t want to think. So think for them. Tell them why they will benefit or they will find a competitor that does.

Are you telling your customers about an endless list of so-called amazing features?

Or are you listing a dozen benefits that can truly make your customers lives better?

Put another way:

Conversion rate = Desire - Friction— Galen Ward (@galenward) May 22, 2013

You’re probably already working on lots of ways to minimize friction–quicker checkout, easier signup, free trials, etc.

But are you maximizing your customers desire of your product? That’s going to drive way more conversions than just making it easier to use your product.

Maximize the number of customers that use your product by maximizing their desire to want it.

Sell the benefits, not the features

Do you have great messaging around the benefits of your startup product or service? Leave a comment to share with others.