Sell Benefits

Kitchen Table Companies

One of the best classes I ever attended was when I worked at Pulvermedia and Jason Chudnofsky taught his famous class on understanding selling and marketing. The core message: sell benefits, not features. Yes, there are many people who’ve given similar advice, but I was there watching Jason, a very successful businessman, and he was making eye contact with us and sharing his personal experiences with this. You can credit who else you like in the comments, but to me, this was Jason’s message.

Sell Benefits

In rebuilding the front page of Kitchen Table Companies, we heeded the advice of Derek Halpern, who sat in on an interview similar to the ones we give our members inside of Kitchen Table Companies. We also listened to people like Arthur Germain, Carrie Wilkerson, Margie Clayman, Susan Giurleo, and more.

Taglines and Headlines

KTC Tagline

We wanted to put the biggest possible benefit up front: “your small business advisory board.” Small business professionals often feel a bit isolated and out of ideas. They often have something they’d like to run by other professionals to get an opinion. So we wanted that concept up front.

We reinforced that message with these four points:

advice on how to grow your business

Remove Barriers

The other thing to think about when selling is to remove barriers to purchasing. The team came up with this:

Starters can get some basics for free

By starting with a $0 price point (for the very basic area of the forums), people can get into the system, get our weekly tips emails, hear what upcoming interviews and instructional tutorials are up and coming, etc. So instead of forcing a buy right off the bat, we remove a barrier by saying that people can come in and peek around.

SEO In Mind

We wanted a very colorful design that fits our “old timey vintage” aesthetic. Josh Fisher, our creative director, gave us some great graphics, but as you well know, Google can’t see graphics, so we made all kinds of plain text that explains the offer, plus makes search a possible lead generator for our product.

At the End Of It, Value and Benefits

It doesn’t matter what we tell you we’re selling. It matters if it’s working for you. We’ve started collecting Success Stories, plus featuring specific Kitchen Table Companies on our weekly show, Kitchen Table Talks on The Pulse Network. That way, people can get a hint of what we’re delivering inside, and they can hear from our successful members who feel like they are getting a value for what they’ve paid for.

We’re Learning

We ask our members what they need and want every day. It’s a fairly steady thrumming from Joe Sorge’s weekly emails, from forum topics, from our very DNA. We want to help, and we ask what we can do to participate.

My next worry is the onboarding. Once we’ve convinced someone to buy, is it really easy to know how newcomers should interact. But I’m going to observe how well we did or didn’t do with this new front end launch. I’m going to see whether our advice and the lessons of Jason Chudnofsky will give us more opportunity to serve others at Kitchen Table Companies.

How about you? How does your site sell benefits?

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  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    Customers are organic.

    They change. What they want today may not be what they need tomorrow.

    Before you sell benefits, you need to know the customer inside out.

    I feel where most go wrong is that they have this ‘generic’ customer persona in mind and work towards that.

    Gotta stay close to the real customer and move out from there!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      I suffer from the marketer’s dilemma of thinking I’m my customer. 

      • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

        and I make the mistake of writing for my peers… who may never be my customers :(

        • Greg Hartle

          And I do both.  Love the new site design. Clear, to the point, and I know what I’m buying. And thanks for the peek behind the scenes on how it got done.

    • http://twitter.com/ideas2revenue Ideas2Revenue

      I agree with Ivan, and think that he has highlighted a very important point. Not to take away from the messaging of this post, which I agree is that you need to sell benefits…not features. 
      However, to Ivan’s point the reality is that you also have to understand that each customer will have their own definition of value…and as a result the benefits that they see may be completely different from how others see it.The one thing that I often find is that we also forget that the customer is not a thing….but a person like you and I. So, there are always two categories of benefits…business and personal. Yes, someone MAY take action if they recognize the business benefits….however they become more motivated and WILL take action if they recognize the personal benefits as well. The WIFM (What’s In it For Me) approach is key, and the only way to truly be able to articulate the real WIFM…is by knowing the customer inside and out and staying close to them.

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    I saw the new homepage yesterday and it is SO much better – easy to understand, easy to see the different levels of investment, and I think a lot easier to understand the benefits, as you say.

    It’s always difficult to imagine that people aren’t living in your head seeing exactly what you’re seeing, but for sales, doing so is essential. Acronyms, abbreviations, and jargon are just not seller friendly.

    Thanks for the shout-out, sir. 

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Very happy to hear it and thanks for your help. 

      • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

        That is what friends are fieur, monsieur =D

  • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

    No wonder the new site looks so great you had a Web site Advisory board (especially if you have @MargieClayman:disqus on your team. 

    I have seen the value of the site since the beginning. Now with the new look and feel it is even more friendly to go in a share. I am writing a post on my experience at KTC. 

    I really think know people can go in and get a better idea what it is about. 

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Much obliged, sir. : ) You’re part of the family, too. 

    • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

      Sweet, sir :)

  • http://aspindle.com tannerc

    Thanks for sharing a brief behind-the-scenes look at the KTC redesign Chris. It’s great to not only see the process, but to hear about the reasoning behind it as well.

    Selling the benefits works, and I think Seth Godin was the one who put it in the simplest terms I have ever encountered.

    On a rainy day, while walking through New York City, Seth saw a man selling umbrellas (I think for $10). The umbrella sales man was shouting “Umbrellas!” into the fast moving current of the crowd. Seth didn’t actually tell the salesman his idea, but he shared it with readers of the blog: all the salesman had to do was sell the benefit, rather than shouting “Umbrellas!” he could try instead saying: “Stay dry! Umbreallas!”

    Hearing the point so vividly clear like this just seems to click with me. It’s so easy to see the difference between selling points.

    • http://mogostyle.com Raiman Au

      Wow, adding “stay dry” makes quite the difference!

  • http://aspindle.com tannerc

    Thanks for sharing a brief behind-the-scenes look at the KTC redesign Chris. It’s great to not only see the process, but to hear about the reasoning behind it as well.

    Selling the benefits works, and I think Seth Godin was the one who put it in the simplest terms I have ever encountered.

    On a rainy day, while walking through New York City, Seth saw a man selling umbrellas (I think for $10). The umbrella sales man was shouting “Umbrellas!” into the fast moving current of the crowd. Seth didn’t actually tell the salesman his idea, but he shared it with readers of the blog: all the salesman had to do was sell the benefit, rather than shouting “Umbrellas!” he could try instead saying: “Stay dry! Umbreallas!”

    Hearing the point so vividly clear like this just seems to click with me. It’s so easy to see the difference between selling points.

  • Kelly E McClelland

    Wow! This makes what Derek recommended so real and OBVIOUS. I love the new look. Congrats and thank you for leading the way. Very nice!

    Only problem is it shoots down my almost-ready-to-launch site as I realize that it isn’t doing enough despite its nice clean traditional look and feel. Better now than later, eh? 

    Thanks KTC team, Chris and Derek. 
    Kelly

  • http://twitter.com/susangiurleo susangiurleo

    Love. the. new. look.(and copy).  So much more clear about what is behind the page. And the free peek for no cost of entry above fold right is genius.  And thanks for the mention –

    • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

       Susan: I need a designer who can knock out changes like this for me over-night :-)

      • http://twitter.com/susangiurleo susangiurleo

        Me too! I hear Josh Fischer is taken, though : ). I’m an ideas gal, design isn’t my bag.

  • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

    Chris: It was pretty neat to read through the process you all underwent to get the site to where it is now. I’m really digging the redesign! 

    We have a way of making things too busy when we’re making changes to a design. “Oh, I should include this” and “I should include that”. Not so in this case. Everything is spaced out just find and each area communicates it’s benefits.

    Anyway, I think it’s an improvement from before and it looks great. Congrats!

  • Claudene

    I think you nailed it by positioning the product as “Your Small Business Advisory Board”.  That’s definitely the main benefit for me, as a new KTC member. 

    Terrific repackaging of the site and offerings — great job!!

  • http://www.brianhamlett.com Brian Hamlett

    Very fine work there Chris! Your team did a great job of setting up a MUCH easier to understand design/layout that quickly walks my eyes through a series of teasers explaining who you are for, what you offer,  then you’ve got a great “engagement point” with the $0 offer, BUT if I’m NOT ready, I can read a quick testimonial and then get even MORE detail below that. 

    If you remember a while back I talked about the “What’s Next” strategy. Your new design conveys that concept by itself by consistently walking me through to the “next step” until I’m ready to sign-up (which I haven’t yet seen at that point… “what’s next.”) ;)  Very nice!

    One little suggestion…. add similar call-to-actions at the end of your bullet point lists for the “Daily Specials with Dessert” and “Entrees” sections.  As a designer I’ll admit it may/may not look great, but following the “what’s next” (and other) strategy, when I get to the end of your lists… there’s nothing following the flow… I have to go back up and select an option, breaking the flow and my thought pattern.  If you have a big monitor, it may not be an issue as you can see the options, but looking on a little bit smaller one, if I scroll to the bottom of the page, the two call-to-action buttons for these options are no longer visible removing any visible decision influencer off the screen. Just a little thought.

  • http://www.TheFranchiseKingBlog.com The Franchise King

    Stunning!

    Great job guys and gals..

    JL

  • http://twitter.com/thomasmcmillan thomasmcmillan

    what a transformation….way to take that advice and run with it.

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  • http://mogostyle.com Raiman Au

    This could be just me because I’m not currently interested in what KTC is offering, and so maybe I’m going through it too fast, but I skimmed over the most important punchline!

    “ARE YOU LOOKING FOR

    QUICK ANSWERS

    TO YOUR PRESSING

    SMALL BUSINESS

    QUESTIONS?”

    It’s there and it’s bold, but it still got lost in all the text that’s there when I read it =(

  • http://matthewtbrowning.com/ Matthew T. Browning

     The desire to have an advisory board for small business owners is very real in this climate.  Especially with the internet age where information is instantaneous on the web, entrepreneurs are looking for who has been there, done that, and what has worked and failed.  Having that group of people can be the best of things.

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual Business Assistant

     
    I have to agree, chris, especially with the first trait you mentioned. It’s a bias on my part
    – Thanks for the share.

  • http://www.farango.com/ r4

    If you sell products, you need to learn how to demonstrate their value to potential customers. Always, Remember one things that, Sell your benefits not your features. 

  • http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/ Chuck Frey

     I’ve spent my entire career in business-to-business marketing. Feature/benefit writing is now hard-wired into my DNA. One of the easiest ways to do it is in the format of “feature FOR benefit.” For example, “A virtual board of advisors, FOR feedback and direction – whenever you need it.”

  • http://www.quality-web-solutions.com/web-content-writing-india.php Andy

    Liked your post very much. Thanks for the valuable information and tips.

  • http://twitter.com/phillyrealty Christopher Somers

    Great examples for the subject.  I think everyone in sales can relate to this and apply it to their sector.  “Sell benefits – not features” is a great summary that wraps it up at the end of the day.  And to add a story of concrete examples to those benefits really tells the story.  I think too many folks get caught up in the features…

  • http://www.eBizROI.com Rick Noel, eBiz ROI, Inc.

    Totally agree, especially the part about providing value ahead of the sale. Most successful online subscription  businesses have a try before you buy business model, providing real (this is key!) value to the users, even those who remain as free users in exchange for their email address and the permission to direct market to them.Removing barriers is the key (i.e. no credit card #) as the choices are many and the selection process confusing to clients. Successful competitors have removed these barriers already. A strong, sustainable value proposition, with email marketing to create a pipeline of potential clients to whom one can consistently communicate with to promote the benefits of paid membership will drive upgrades and is a proven business model that can be managed efficiently. Social networks can be a great for distribution.

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  • Anonymous

    I don’t know that my site does sell benefits. Will probably have to figure out how to do that.

  • http://twitter.com/JEBwrites Jennifer Beaver

    The design and concept of KTC are both wonderful. Loved the success stories; I have two suggestions for giving them greater value. First, they should explain (elevator speech) what their companies do. There may be another KTC company who needs their services. Second, they should tell us ho! w they benefited from KTC. Something simple like, “KTC helped me by,” or “Since I’ve joined KTC, my company….”

    Thanks

    Jennifer
    @JEBWrites

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2

    My favorite way of distilling a benefit down to it’s highest potency is a formula I learned from Eben Pagan.

    This formula asks that you focus on four elements of your claim you’re making. And here’s how it breaks down for an example such as weight loss…

    Specificity: Instead of “Lose Weight” you say, “Lose 15 Pounds”

    Concrete: This is where you’d add, “Lose 15 Pounds In 90 Days”

    Emotional: Here, you take up another notch, “Lose 15 Pounds Of Belly Fat In 90 Days”

    Connected To A Result: And then you bring it home, “Lose 15 Pounds Of Belly Fat In 90 Days So That You Can Fit Into Your Skinny Jeans”

    When you force yourself to distill your benefits down with these qualifiers you’ll go from flab to fab!

  • http://www.k9stud.com Puppies For Sale

    Most successful online subscription  businesses have a try before you
    buy business model, providing real (this is key!) value to the users,
    even those who remain as free users in exchange for their email address.

  • http://www.your-cup-of-tea.com/herbaltea.html herbal tea

    I had watched the Sell Benefits and Also keep in mind SEO. SEO is the Best way to Promoting your Product on a Internet and Increse the Sell. It also Improve the Visibility of Site.

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  • http://twitter.com/gillie Amie Gillingham

    Hey Chris, I’ve got a question. How well is clicking through to a dedicated landing page for each payment plan from the front page working for you as opposed to a single page that compares account types (with their individual benefits) and lets you initiate your subscription payment from a choice of several plans? We’ve never tested this particular method, nor have I really seen this done elsewhere. 

  • http://staffperformancesecrets.com/ Leon Noone

    G’Day Chris,
    I totally agree with everything you say about benefits. But I’d add one more thing. Choose your business name with great care. And, if necessary, support it with a prospect- relevant tagline or slogan.

    When starting a business, most people give it a name that means a lot to them. They assume that their prospects and customers will “understand” too. As Al Ries and Jack Trout pointed out in “Positioning” way back in 1981, “marketing occurs in the mind.”

     A good business name contains a promise to prospects that’s meaningful to them. The importance of the name and slogan is often overlooked.

    Marketing isn’t everything, but everything is marketing.

    Make sure you have fun.

    Regards

    Leon 

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Great tweaks!

  • http://lastdropofink.co.uk/ Matthew Ogborne

    Utterly agreed and the timing was fantastic. Thanks Chris.

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  • http://hobbyarticledirectory.net/ Nabeelshaukat

    I agree with you! great work,I think that small business community can get a big help from this presentation….i suggest to conduct more small business conforence.

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  • http://www.goingpublic.us/ going public

    This is awesome presentation, this is very informative and easy to understand the small business,and suggest to small business community to take full advantage of this blog.and hope that some more conference on small business,will conduct to boost this sector.

  • http://www.goingpublic.us/ going public

    This is awesome presentation, this is very informative and easy to understand the small business,and suggest to small business community to take full advantage of this blog.and hope that some more conference on small business,will conduct to boost this sector.

  • http://www.basecandy.com free online dating site

    Not selling benefits is probably the biggest mistake new marketers make

  • http://www.howtogetridofacnescarsblogs.com home remedies for acne

    Great tweaks

  • consumer units

    Any good salesman will tell you this and this really is the key to getting a good long term presence. This is what builds brands after all!