One of my favorite print publications is the Onion. It’s
a parody newspaper that lampoons anyone and any topic that’s newsworthy. I read it
for its entertainment value and because I admire their creativity.
One of their recent pieces was titled:
“Area Man Can’t Wait To Get Home To Look Out New
It went on to talk about a guy who had just installed new
Pella windows in his home. What got my attention was the reasons he gave for
being so excited about his new windows:
“They have the best features – constant force
balancing, heavy-duty cam sweep locks and full fine-mesh screens…”
The piece went on in that vein a little more, ending with
the guy’s plan to get a dog so there will be someone to look out his great new
windows when he’s not home.
Silly, of course. Which makes it entertaining.
But if we look beyond the surface we see a lot of wisdom
in this parody. Sure, the typical customer could care less about the “constant
force balancing” and other technical features of the windows. Only people who
design, manufacture and sell windows care about such things.
Why then do so many marketing pieces, ads, websites and
salespeople spend so much time talking about these and other features of their
products? Some days a person can get overwhelmed by all the details and
technical stuff marketers throw at them.
People who sell things focus on features and
specifications because that’s what are important to them. Or they think the
customers care about them. But they usually make this conclusion without asking
Most customers don’t give a hoot about your product’s
features. So stop talking about them.
Start focusing on what your customers want. If you’re not
sure, then ask them. And keep asking them. Ask them in many different ways. Get
your employees in the habit of always asking key questions that help you
understand what your customers want from you.
Then keep track of that information and use it.
The best way to bore people and send them to your
competition is to drone on and on about your “heavy duty cam-sweep locks” or
other boring features of your product or service.
Get your customer’s attention and keep it by talking
about what they want. Focus on what interests them and they’ll pay attention.
You’ll be showing them that you want to help them. They’ll reward you by
becoming your customer.