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• It is made of wood.
• It has a specific diameter.
• It contains a lead-composite filler of a certain type.
• It usually has an eraser at the end.
And so on.
These features describe the objective qualities of the pencil. So if buying were a rational process, selling would be a matter of identifying the features of your product.
But as you just learned, buying is an emotional process. And that means you must express the features of your product in some way that will stimulate desire. You do that by converting features into benefits.
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For example, the features of the pencil might be converted into the following benefits:
• It is easy to sharpen.
• It is comfortable to hold.
• It creates an impressive line.
• It makes correcting easy.
The Third Principle: The Difference between Benefits and Deeper Benefits
The reason some marketers do a better job than others is because they understand the difference between benefits and deeper benefits.
In our example, for instance, what might be the deeper benefit of having a pencil that sharpens easily?
To figure that out, master marketers ask themselves, “Who is my target customer? And why, exactly, does this customer want little things (like sharpening pencils) to be easy?”
Of course, there’s no single answer to such a question. It depends entirely on who that target customer is. If he’s a busy executive, his deeper reasons are going to be different than if she’s a busy housewife.
Perhaps the executive wants more ease because he’s buried in minutiae. Perhaps he senses that if he could just get a little more spare time in his day he could catch up with his work. And if he could finally get his in-box conquered and his e-mail cleaned up, perhaps he could write that memo or make that phone call that would boost his career.
Master marketers who understand these deeper motives—the desire to be more successful at work, for example—can create stronger advertising copy because they will be appealing to emotions that are closer to their customers’ core desires.
The example I’m using is, admittedly, far-fetched. But I’ll continue to push it to make the point. Our master marketers have dug a bit below the surface now. They recognize a deeper desire than mere ease, and they are going to appeal to it. But before they do, they stop and deconstruct the deeper benefit. They ask themselves more questions: “Why does my customer, this busy executive, want more success? Is it because he wants a better salary? And if so, why is that? Is it because he wants a nicer home? And if he wants a nicer home, why? To please
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WHERE TO GO TO LEARN FINANCIALLY VALUED SKILLS
There are many ways to learn financially valued skills. You can learn pretty much everything there is to know about sales and marketing, for example, by reading
• Scientific Advertising, by Claude Hopkins (Chelsea House, 1980)
• Ogilvy on Advertising, by David Ogilvy (Crown, 1983)
• Tested Advertising Methods, by John Caples (5th edition, Prentice-Hall, 1997)
• The Copywriter's Handbook, by Bob Bly (Owl Books, 1990)
• Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Dr. Robert Cialdini (Perennial Currents, 1998)
• The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown, 2000)
• Selling the Invisible, by Harry Beckwith (Oxmoor House, 2000)
But most people don't like to learn from books. And with good reason. Books are designed to communicate ideas, to excite, to inspire. But they are usually not written to guide you along a path of knowledge. For the sort of learning we're talking about here—acquiring skills—you are better off taking actual courses.
The Agora Learning Institute (agoralearninginstitute.com) specializes in teaching people financially valued skills through home-study programs and seminars. Other groups that do the same thing include Nightingale-Conant (nightingale.com) and the American Management Association (www.amanet.org).
It takes a long time (in my experience, as much as 5,000 hours of study and practice) to master any complex skill. That's true of financially valued skills as well. But you don't have to be a master of selling, marketing, product creation, or profit management to start making good money. Achieving a level of competence (which takes only about 1,000 hours) is enough.
Since you probably already have some skills in these areas, you will need to spend that much less time. And if you combine a good program with the help of a good mentor, you can accelerate your learning very significantly.
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his family? To impress his friends? And why does he want to please his family and impress his friends?”
Marketers who can figure out the answers to questions like these hold their prospects’ hearts in their hands.
NOW IT’S TIME TO GET GOING
If you do everything I’ve recommended so far, you’ll be in a position to demand a much higher salary:
• You will be operating in the profit-making vortex of your company.