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People Don’t Want Toothpaste

August 17, 2019
Matt Southam

Any good marketer will know that you should be marketing the benefits, not the features of what you do. But what does this really mean?

Let’s start this blog with a famous marketing quote by Theodor Levitt. “People don’t want a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole”.

What this quote is saying is that people are not buying the quarter inch drill because they want the drill, they are buying it because they need a quarter inch hole. They are buying the product for the benefit, not the feature.
By understanding this mindset you can begin to market your benefits instead of the product or feature because this is what people are actually buying.

Understanding this subtle difference is likely to increase the effectiveness of your marketing and you can use this way of thinking to discover more of the benifits of the product.

Let’s stick with the drill and look at an example.

When someone buys the drill, it could be that they just want a hole, but at a guess they probably want something more.
The hole may be used to help put up some shelves. But why do they want shelves? It could be to make more room in the garage for their prized motorbike, or maybe they just want more space. Don’t we all want more space?
As you can see from this example, they are not buying a drill because they want a drill, they are buying it for the benefits it will bring.

To help you understand the difference between features and benefits think of it like this:
A feature is what something does, the benefit is how it helps the purchaser.
Start thinking from your clients perspective and you will start to understand why someone buys your product. Using this understanding in your marketing will help you to connect and engage with your audience.

Let’s look at some products and features to understand why people really buy them.

Product: Broadband internet
Feature: 20mb download speed
Benefit: Download your files quicker and allow more people to use the internet at one time

Product: Camera
Feature: 20 megapixels
Benefit: To take better quality photos that can be printed at a large size

Product: Harddrive
Feature: 1tb of storage
Benefit: Backup all your precious photos and videos

Product: Car
Feature: 4×4
Benefit: You won’t get stuck in the snow!

Product: Washing machine
Feature: Quick 45 min wash
Benefit: Get your clothes washed, even when you are in a rush

Product: Deodorant
Feature: White stain protection
Benefit: Keeps your clothes looking good (and your pits smelling fresh)

You could also use this mindset when selling what you do in person.

When someone asks me what I do, I say “I help businesses to look great and get more leads”. This often leads to more questions so I get the opportunity to explain our website design, social media marketing, and graphic design services.

If I responded with “web designer” they may not be as interested.

Let’s look at a few examples of jobs vs benefits

Job: Accountant
Benefit: Keeping you legal and saving you tax

Job: DJ
Benefit: Making a good party great by keeping the guests on the dance floor

Job: Mechanic
Benefit: Keeping your car on the road to allow you to go where you want to go

Job: Stylist
Benefit: Helping people look their best every time they step outside

As you can see marketing your products is really about having the right mindset. Think about what people gain from purchasing you product or put simply, people don’t want toothpaste, they want clean teeth.

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