Featured Carousel Features May 2019

1,000 Songs in Your Pocket


Written By: Ron Stein

Follow the lead of Steve Jobs in selling benefits.

Does it feel like your company is invisible and you just can’t get the market traction you deserve? Well, you’re not alone.

By the mid ‘90s, Apple’s image had slipped, and the company was quickly fading in the buyer’s mind. Apple was struggling against its competition and, in 2000, Apple hit bottom. It was a shadow of its former self.

Meanwhile, in that same year MP3 players were very hot and flying off shelves. Competitors jockeyed for sales, with each yelling as loud as they could about why their MP3 player was a better animal. More storage. Faster processors. Better battery life. And on and on. It was a geek fest.

In late 2001, rumors began swirling that Apple was about to introduce an MP3 player. The press and tech industry analysts were quick to pounce and scratched their heads — what could possibly be better about Apple’s music player?

Then Apple rolled out the iPod. Instead of talking about bigger, faster, better they simply said “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

Apple got to the heart of the matter; the iPod made you a happier person, maybe even made you feel a bit exclusive, because you could now carry 1,000 songs in your pocket. Apple understood what we really wanted, and that was the difference. Oh, it was a better product too, but that was almost an afterthought.

You’ve probably heard the sales maxim that people don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want to buy a quarter-inch hole. It’s a seemingly brilliant piece of marketing and selling wisdom that reminds us to go beyond features and instead focus on benefits.

Yet, it’s deeply flawed.

This pithy statement doesn’t go far enough. The hole may seem to be the outcome (benefits) the buyer was looking for, but why? To hang family photos, put together a new storage shed or maybe build a cool tiki bar down by the beach.

It turns out that your message is the single most important selling and marketing tool you have. And it has to hit on all cylinders to communicate to future buyers why you are different, not better, than the competition.

And that demands that your business gets to the buyer’s “why” quickly. Beautiful things happen when your ideal customer’s why aligns with your why. This will shape the heart of your message.

Like the sturdy barstools you’ll place around your new tiki hut, there are three legs to a great message: foundation, strategy and action.

The foundation sets the stage and is all about your target audience and how they think. It’s so much more than nailing down the demographics correctly. Get inside their heads and think in terms of who, why and how.

Discover exactly what your target audience wants — why they’ll buy and, just as important, why they won’t. The hole is the immediate result, but not what the buyer had in mind when they got the drill. The why is what people really pay for.

Next comes the strategy leg. Many companies will immediately dive into go-to-market game plan at this point. That’d be like trying to sell a book without a title and a juicy sub-headline. Create a positioning statement based on your target customer’s persona. The goal is to clearly and concisely say what makes your product, service or company unique — and why that’s relevant to your audience.

A positioning statement is only for internal consumption within your organization. It helps to get your entire organization on the same page. Since it’s not meant for public consumption, it doesn’t have to be a literary work of art, just on point.

The ultimate purpose of your positioning statement is to create a roadmap sketching out the essence of how your business is distinct and different from your competitors. This is how you’ll position your business in the mind of your market.

Every product and marketing decision you make must align with and support your positioning statement. It’s your guiding light that helps maintain focus when establishing strategies and tactics.

The third leg of the stool is based on your positioning statement — creating a core message and story that sells. And here’s the fun part: taking action. Use your message in everything you do online and offline. The list is endless — your website, trade show booth, phone calls, pay per click ads, white papers, tagline, emails, calls-to-action, images, webinars. Everything!

Why go through all of this work?

Apple’s drive to inspire users and not just sell them features separated it from the pack. It’s how Apple connected with the needs of its customers — the why. That aha moment in 2001 made it different from IBM, Microsoft and companies you’ve never heard of because they’ve gone out of business.

Are you selling a drill, a hole, or something much more important? 

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