News article

The power of benefits, or “why you should sell the sizzle, not the sausage”

Have you ever given much thought to what a sausage is?

Being honest, it’s probably not something you want to spend a lot of time considering. When Yes, Minister based an episode around the EU wanting to rename a sausage an “emulsified high-fat offal tube”, they weren’t far wrong.

Wall’s standard thick pork sausages are actually only around 70% pork. Other ingredients include such tasty marvels as rusk, dextrose, diphosphates, onion powder, sodium metabisulphite, alpha-tocopherol, and beef collagen.

Appetising, eh?

It’s for this reason (and many others) that sausage adverts don’t tend to focus on what a sausage is.

Instead, they focus on what a sausage does (it smells and tastes great).

There’s an old adage that, when writing about anything, you should sell the sizzle not the sausage. Here’s why.

Focus on the benefits

When you’re writing, and you want someone to do something (like call you to book a chat, or email you to arrange a review) you have to give someone a reason to do it.

So, if you want to attract a new client, it’s not enough to tell them what your firm is. You have to turn features into benefits.

Features are what things are.

Benefits are what things do for someone.

Benjamin Franklin (he of the “death and taxes”) said: “Write your injuries in dust, your benefits in marble”.

Here’s a simple example I often use when working with writers.

A paper clip is made of metal (feature) meaning you can be sure it is strong enough to keep your papers in good order (benefit).

You get 100 in a box (feature) meaning you’ll always have one when you need one (benefit).

They are lightweight (feature) meaning it won’t cost you an arm and a leg when you come to post a sheaf of paperwork (benefit).

Copy often uses a mixture of “hard” and “soft” benefits:

  • Hard benefits are tangible and measurable. Faster, cheaper, stronger, more effective
  • Soft benefits are intangible. More stylish, more fashionable, peace of mind

Focus on benefits when you’re talking to financial planning clients

If you own or run a financial advice or planning business, you’re probably really proud of it. You will have worked hard to build it into the firm it is now, and you naturally want to shout about it.

While this is great, there’s one little thing to think about.

Your average reader isn’t interested in:

  • How hard you have worked to get where you are
  • How proud you are of your success
  • The awards you have won.

Instead, they are interested in themselves – and how you can help them. Can you save them time, money, or hassle? Can you help them to sleep better at night?

Writing about what you are – Chartered, award-winning, a family business – isn’t enough by itself. These are the features of your business.

What you have to show a reader are the benefits of working with you.

So, write a list of your features, turn them into benefits to the reader, and write about those.

Here are some examples you might find useful.

Feature Benefit
50 years’ experience We know what we are talking about. We have a track record of success
Chartered High standard of ethics, better qualifications means better advice
Award-winning You are dealing with a firm that has been independently recognised for quality
Five-star service Less hassle for you, reassurance we’re here when you need us
Local Just around the corner when you need help, we work with people like you

While everyone likes a sausage butty, the work you do as a financial adviser or planner is likely to add a lot more value in the long term.

So, the next time you come to write, think about sharing all the things you can do for a reader, not just what you are.

To find out how we can help you sell the sizzle, please get in touch. Email or call 0115 8965 300.


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