by Terry Ledden
Will prospects switch to a telecommunications provider that offers the widest coverage when they currently have no trouble connecting with the people they regularly call? Will prospects buy copiers with "enhanced duplex colour capabilities" when 98% of their copying requirements are double-sided black text? Will they subscribe to an Internet service that offers "lightening fast Internet connections" when retrieving their e-mail is their most bandwidth-intensive activity
Unlikely... unlikely... and unlikely!
New, Improved, Most Reliable, Longest Lasting, Industry Preferred... the list of features and functions goes on and on. In this economy, prospects don't care.
You won't capture a prospect's attention with features and functions, regardless of how Revolutionary, Tested, or Enhanced they may be; unless, first and foremost, your product or service addresses a specific problem, concern, or challenge the prospect is grappling with. Discretionary spending for enhanced features is dead.
You've either got to be cheaper than the next guy or bring something to the party that addresses a specific problem, concern or challenge in a way that differentiates you from the competition.
Your message, whether delivered verbally or in print, must focus on those problems, concerns, and challenges. Rather than tout "widest coverage," ask a problem-focused question. For instance, "Are some of your loved ones outside your calling area?" Rather than promote "lightening fast internet connections," ask; "Does it take longer to download your e-mail than it does to read it?"
Only if the answers to the problem/concern questions are "Yes" will prospects have any interest in the features and functions of your product or service. And, that interest will fade quickly if those features and functions aren't believable.
Prospects are skeptical about feature and benefit claims. They expect that the only thing New, Improved, or Enhanced about so many products and services are the words "New," "Improved," or "Enhanced" prominently placed in the advertising and marketing materials.
To make the features and functions believable, tell the prospect HOW you deliver what those features and functions promise. Do you provide the widest cell phone coverage because you have more cell towers than any other company? Do you guarantee the fastest deliveries because any shipment with a destination over 150 miles is shipped by air and delivered the next day? Is your software never obsolete because you provide free lifetime updates? If so, make those facts part of your message.
Here's an example:
We provide seemless in-flight communication and continuous access to the world for high mobility executives frustrated by isolation from time sensitive business action unfolding on the ground.
Our proprietary antenna signalling and onboard data communication system replicates the executive office in the air with a full suite of productivity tools ranging from high quality voice calls and conferencing, email, document access and in-flight video conference.
If you want to capture your prospect's attention, focus your message on the problems, concerns, or challenges they face. If you want to keep their attention, tell them how you deliver what you promise.