Home Backbone Marketing, copywriting, Ideas, marketing, selling, Tactics • By-the-book marketers will call this sacrilege!

By-the-book marketers will call this sacrilege!


Nobody wants to merely blend in with all the marketing noise. That’s how businesses die. 

But if you’ve ever read even one marketing book, you might fall for a crippling misconception.

You see, practically everyone knows rule #1: Emphasize benefits, not features. This is an important rule, but if you leave out its counterpart, you will be crushed.


When benefits work against you

If you’ve got a completely different set of benefits that nobody else is promising, then rule #1 might be enough. But what happens when all your competitors are touting the same benefits? Chances are you’ve been caught in this swamp before

Almost any real estate agent you ask will offer to sell your house fast, for the best possible price. Most IT services will reduce downtime, streamline your workflow, and protect your data. And every single copywriter in the world is going to promise you more clients, more sales, and bigger profits 

If your benefits are the same as everybody else, a prospect doesn’t really have a reason to choose you. Instead, they’ll fall back on the cheapest, loudest, or most familiar option. 

Luckily, there’s an easy way around this “me too” syndrome: Start focusing again on the features.

  • How will you sell that house faster for a better price? Tell me the steps you’ll go through. Even if every realtor goes through the exact same steps, nobody has ever talked about them.
  • If you’re a personal trainer, explain that you spend half of each session doing resistance training at the weakest point in your client’s range of motion. List the 27 different muscle groups that you test and work with. Describe the weights and equipment you use.
  • Do you offer IT services that reduce downtime? Show how your software refreshes the data and scans for bugs 37 times per minute. That you analyze 29 data points on an hourly basis. That most problems are discovered and corrected within 11 minutes. Mention the names, model numbers, and versions of all your software and equipment. This information will be meaningless to most of your clients, but it will be a billion times more refreshing than the overused term, “state of the art.”

I always start every project by collecting as many facts as I can about a client or their products. I try to get at least 100, or even 1,000 if I’m not in a hurry. One of my early mentors refused to write a single sentence until he had compiled 15 pages of facts about a product. Fifteen pages.

When everyone in your industry is boasting the same benefits, there’s only one way to stand out. Show your market, in a very concrete and tangible way, exactly how you deliver those benefits.

The old rule still applies. Benefits before features. But never leave out the features.



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