Marketing the features and benefits of your service business

By June 23, 2016Marketing, Planning
features-benefits

The service your business offers can be compared with others based on its features and benefits, however the differences are not always so obvious to potential customers. By highlighting features and benefits in marketing efforts, you will increase the chance of sales and profits. Features communicate the capability of a service. But features are only valuable if customers see those particular features as valuable. Service features provide benefits which translate into perceived value to the potential customer. Good marketing joins these dots for the potential customer so they can clearly see the value in your service.

The distinction between the terms benefits and features is an important concept in developing and marketing a service.

It is important to remember that customers select services because they want to solve a problem or meet a need. Consciously or unconsciously, your customers will always be asking the question, “What’s in it for me?” Your service offerings have to deliver solutions and satisfy needs, or they won’t be successful. Given that benefits are ultimately more important to your customers than features, it is imperative that you understand the benefits your services provide, emphasise these in your sales efforts, and update your services when new or additional benefits are desired by your customers.

Features

The service feature are the prominent characteristics or properties of your business. When marketing your business, include a list of your key features. This gives people a better understanding of what your business provides.

Defining your service features

Below is a list of six key components of a service with some questions to focus your attention on what your business does or doesn’t do. Use these as a guide to emphasis your service features. For example, if you answer “Yes” to the question “If a response is promised in a certain time, does it happen?”, then elaborate this with a marketing statement such as “You can rely on us to work within an efficient timeline”. Create a list of statements that highlight the features of your service while drawing attention to your unique point of difference.

Quality of service

The quality of your service can be broken down into ten areas:

  1. Reliability – Willingness to help customers to provide prompt service
  2. Tangibles – Appearance of physical facilities, equipment, personnel, printed and visual materials
  3. Responsiveness – Willingness to help customers to provide prompt service
  4. Competence – Possession of required skill and knowledge to perform service
  5. Courtesy – Politeness, respect, consideration and friendliness of contact personnel
  6. Credibility – Trustworthiness, believability, honesty of the service provider
  7. Security – Freedom from danger, risk, or doubt
  8. Access – Approachability and ease of contact.
  9. Communication – Listening to customers and acknowledging their comments; Keeping customers informed in a language they can understand.
  10. Understanding the customer – Making the effort to know customers and their needs.

 

Some questions to ask:

  • If a response is promised in a certain time, does it happen?
  • Are exact specifications of client followed?
  • Are statements or reports free of error?
  • Is the service performed right the first time?
  • Are staff dressed appropriately?
  • Is written material easy to understand?
  • Does technology look modern?
  • When there is a problem, does the business respond to it quickly?
  • Are staff willing to answer client questions?
  • Are specific times for service accomplishments given to client?
  • Are materials provided appropriate and up to date?
  • Do staff appear to know what they are doing?
  • Does staff member have a pleasant demeanour?
  • Does staff refrain from acting busy or being rude when clients ask questions?
  • Are those who answer the telephone considerate and polite?
  • Do staff observe consideration of the property and values of clients?
  • Does the business have a good reputation?
  • Do staff members refrain from pressuring the client?
  • Are responses given accurate and consistent with other reliable sources?
  • Does the business guarantee its services?
  • Are documents and other information provided for the client held securely?
  • How easy is it to talk to a knowledgeable staff member when client has a problem?
  • Is it easy to reach the appropriate staff person
    • in person?
    • by telephone?
    • by email?
  • Can staff explain clearly the various options available to a particular query?
  • Do staff avoid using technical jargon when speaking with clients?
  • Does staff member call if a scheduled appointment will be missed?
  • Does someone on staff recognise each regular client and address them by name?
  • Do staff try to determine what client’s specific objectives are?
  • Are service providers flexible enough to accommodate to client’s schedule?

Function

Some questions to ask:

  • What do you offer?
  • Do you provide high-quality, reliable results?

Performance

Some questions to ask:

  • How quickly do you get back to those who seek your attention?
  • What is your turn around time on small and large tasks?

Cost

Some questions to ask:

  • How do you price your service?
  • Do you set prices that reflect the value you provide – not just the cost?
  • Is level of service and cost of service consistent with what client requires and can afford?
  • What value do your customers place on receiving the benefits you provide?
  • How does your pricing compare to your competition?

Reporting

Some questions to ask:

  • What level and quality of analytics do you gather on service execution including on-time project completion and client satisfaction?

Payment models

Some questions to ask:

  • Do you have a flexible payment model?

A feature is a factual statement about the service being promoted.

But features are not generally what entice customers to buy. That is where a list of benefits comes in. A benefit answers the question “What’s in it for me?” meaning the feature provides the customer with something of value to them.

Benefits + Features = Value

Benefits

Can you clarify why what you do matters? Benefits are generally the reasons customers choose your service. Customers look for benefits when considering a service and these are often what will compel them to stay.

The uniqueness of a service sets it apart from the competition.

This is your opportunity to highlight the unique points of difference of your service. After all, standing out from the crowd is essential to your sales success.

Defining your service benefits

  1. Know your customer

To clarify your benefits, you need to know who you are selling to. Gather as much information as possible on your target market. You want to know enough about your ideal customer so that you can write copy which speaks directly to them.

  1. Think in terms of results

The best way to understand the true benefit of your service is to focus on the results. A customer’s perception of each feature results is what attracts them to a particular product or service. When someone chooses a consultant with fifteen years’ experience, the assumption is credibility, but the actual results are that they will have access to the insight and knowledge the consultant has gained from working in the industry with hundreds of clients. Those results are the true benefits.

  1. Change your point-of-view

Whenever you function from your own point of view, you automatically fill in the blanks with assumptions. Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer. Approach your own service as if you have never seen it. Then ask yourself “What results will that feature bring me?” and “Why would I want to consider using this service?

 

Don’t ever expect the potential customer to draw conclusions about the benefits of your service. Assumptions lead to confusion and possible disappointment.

 

About Caroline

Caroline is a specialist in business creation, growth and change management. Her aim is to empower start-ups and small businesses to drive growth through the development of business ideas, product and service development, strategy and system planning as well as business branding and promotion.

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