Condoms in DRC – Defining customer value and language – back to basics in marketing and sales

A central business problem (and opportunity – these usually come in pairs) is to figure out who your customers are, what they value and how they talk about what they value.

A key concept FAB – Features and Benefits. Companies reflexively think about their products and services in terms of features. This is especially true of technically based ones – software, internet, medical, etc. Customers on the other hand buy Benefits. And most crucial to the concept of Benefits is that the customer decides what they are. Value is defined by the customer……

A classic example from the world of Web marketing is: people do not search for inexpensive airline tickets, they search for cheap tickets.

So, to round out this little rap, we need to understand who our customers are, what they value, and how they talk about that value.

Amy Lockwood

Amy Lockwood

Here is a link to a TED video I stumbled on that illustrates some of these principles: Amy Lockwood: Selling condoms in the Congo

Planes Change. Values Don’t – No Sloganeering

Plane change. Values don't United Airlines

Recently I was on an commercial air flight and was greeted by a bit of corporate sloganeering that accompanied by meal (yes, you guessed correctly that I was on an international flight). The napkin shouted out in bold blue text, “Planes change. Values don’t. Your priorities will always be ours.Continue reading

More on Why Business Plans Fail – part two – the connection to customers

In the preceding post about key causes for business plans to fail, we discussed the lack of a robust process to convert strategy into tactics, to convert the plans into the day-to-day work of the organization. This posting will take up another major failure mode. That is the failure to have a compelling customer perceived value proposition and the corollary failures to understand markets and customers more generally. Continue reading

FABing Is Still Important in Sales and Marketing – a revisit

FABing, variously Features and Benefits, Features, Attributes, & Benefits, has always been a great tool for getting people to focus more self-consciously, more analytically on what they are doing in their sales and marketing work.

Here is an article by Michael Fortin that develops and extends the traditional concept of FABing: “The Oft-Confused Features and Benefits

TED Talk by Tim Brown of IDEO – Why Design Is Big Again

I have not read Tim Brown’s book Change By Design, but this TED talk strikes me as very valuable in itself. I look forward to reading the book which has just been published. The focus on involving end users, rapid prototyping, systems thinking resonates for me. Lean practitioners will find much in common here. It is great to hear a designer talk forthrightly about the ephemeral nature of most design efforts and even alluding to how much design is gratuitous design.


Understanding Your Customers Comes Before “The Five P’s of Social Media”

In his posting The Five P’s of Social Media–Where Do You Start? on the Fast Company site, Lon Safko writes about where to get started in social media that:  “The Five P’s are; Profiles, Propagate, Produce, Participate, and Progress”. His discussion is worth a review.((1))

I might add a preface to to these “Five P’s” that is a fundamental precursor to success in web social media (as well as all other marketing).

Focus on your customers, clients, and prospects first – what is your value to them?

Focus on your customers, clients, and prospects first. What is it that they are interested in? What is the value they desire from you? What language do they use to talk and think about the problems you might solve for them? Use the proven tools of FABing to keep your focus on what your customers are actually interested in. Don’t fill up your web space with content that they are not interested in and which is not presented in their language.

FAB refers to Features and Benefits (some say Features, Advantages, and Benefits). This is a simple, powerful axiom of marketing (and sales) that proves elusive even to seasoned practitioners. Simply put: Customers buy Benefits not Features. Features are the physical, functional attributes of a product or service. Benefits are the values, as perceived by the customer, of using a product or service. Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. Thanks to Brendan McLaughlin at Westglow Technology Consulting for pointing this article out to me. []