written by Meryl Snow for Catersource magazine
We have all said these words – frustrated after preparing a painstaking proposal for a client only to be turned away for our rates. While we know we are charging a reasonable amount for excellent ingredients, top-notch service and outstanding results, the client opts for a cheaper – and or less qualified competitor. In order to find out more about this issue, I sent a survey to 474 event professionals around the country- both large & small – and asked them to rank the reasons why they believe that a client didn’t book with their company.
You didn’t book it because the client didn’t see a difference between your company & your competitor.
Remember, features TELL while benefits SELL. I also ask those polled if they can list 5 benefits of why clients should use their company, and 98% of the time I will get at least three of these answers:
Our service is amazing.
Our food (product) is fabulous.
We’ve been in business for ___ years.
We have attention to detail.
We can work within your budget.
This always makes me wonder – if 98% of you are saying the same thing, then what sets you apart, and how are you different? You’re not.
Your client is so accustomed to hearing these phrases from all of the businesses they deal with, and so these features just don’t mean anything to them. You are setting yourself up to be a boring old commodity, but you do know there are countless differences between you and your competitors.
Those lists above? They simply state the features of your company. You need to emphasize your benefits.
A benefit is how your product makes someone feel – it evokes an emotion in their world.
You simply need to take your company’s features and turn them into benefits.
Here’s an example: Let’s use everyone’s favorite blonde, Barbie!
Arms & legs bend
Let’s say you told the client, “can you imagine your daughter sitting on the floor brushing and braiding Barbie’s hair into all different styles?”
What do you think the mother is feeling? This image will first bring a smile to her face, evoke love for her daughter and then trigger the realization that, “oh good, she’ll be busy playing with Barbie so it gives me more time to work!” With this emotional phrase you have turned a feature into a benefit
Let me tell you a little story that makes this come to life.
I was walking through Nordstrom’s department store into the mall. A red dress on my right caught my attention, so I b-lined over there and just fell in love with it. It was so me. With excitement, I took it off the rack, turned it around- I had to have it! Then I looked at the price tag, yikes – $650! Back on the rack it went.
As I was leaving the mall I passed the stunning red dress again. I paused and said – “it won’t hurt if I just try it on….” Wow- the dress looked so amazing- it fit me perfectly and more importantly, it made me look skinny, well thinner. I bought the dress.
So let’s assume there were 2 red dresses, one for $650 and one for $350. They may seem similar, so naturally I would go for the cheaper price. Until I tried them on – you know how I felt about the $650 dress, while the $350 dress looked just ok. I saw the difference in the 2 dresses and how they made me feel.
Benefits: evoke emotion
It made me look slim and fit.
It made me feel wonderful.
It gave me confidence in my appearance.
Ok- now let’s bring this to the event world.
Feature- Great service
Benefit- “Our service team is skilled, friendly and efficient, which means that your guests won’t have to wait in line at the bar for a drink.” Now this is hitting home to the client. They are thinking, “oh, I don’t want that, that would be embarrassing – I didn’t even know that that could be an issue. “
Feature – Delicious food
Benefit – “Our food is fabulous and trend setting which means you’ll be the envy of all of your friends.” Secretly, every wedding, corporate event, house party want their event to be better than their friends.
As you can see, the benefits are so much more evocative and meaningful than the features – ensure that you are doing your best to transform simple descriptions into client-winning benefit statements.