Sunday, September 16, 2007

Benefit Marketing - Boosting Your Site, Your Sales, Your Products

What a corny headline.

But I'm into this interesting idea on marketing - which is to chase it down from benefits first, not from keywords or cutsey ideas one what the latest fad is.

The latest "fad" is keywords themselves.

All copywriting is actually evolved around what the reader expects - the "What's In It For Me?" is really, "How can I use this to improve my life?"

Headlines have to contain benefits to get emails opened or sales pages read. Bullets need to contain benefits, not features. Articles and forum posts work because - they are open-handed help and useful advice in solving a problem. Read: chock full of benefits.

But - all our current copywriting texts are designed around keywords, only keywords. Benefits are a side line. Now, reading the classic wordsmiths, they say to "tell a story" - what is this, really?

People learn by listening/reading others' stories. Three things people want (according to Earl Nightingale) are Recognition, Change, and Security. A good story does all these, but it hinges on the second. Your delivery system is based on the other two. Email does it well. Articles come close.

How to analyze for benefits? Haven't worked this out, exactly. Now good headlines have an outright or implied benefit. In there somewhere are the keywords.

One approach would be to check most popular articles and analyze them against keywords, but this just takes us back to keywords and "SEO" again, not writing and delivering benefits to your customers and readers.

Now this again is best by narrowing down to your niche - or the niche which you are marketing to. But the trick is that the top directories don't enable this, except by category and subcategory - and some not even then. Lower-level article directories just give you an overall (many year) popularity score. So you have to drill down to find what is popular - and use several sources.

Interestingly, what has made Madison Avenue so unpopular - their abuse of trust through deceptive and misleading advertizing - has created another niche marketing venue through conversation or relationship marketing. People want benefits and want the sales person or copywriter to earn their trust before they commit. And so you start conversations with people you don't know.

We then have the rise of article marketing and comment marketing. What do these do but push benefit, benefit, benefit with every word and paragraph. And these are real benefits, not sugar-coated air business. That's the only way to get viewers to decide to become customers these days. And the only way to keep them - provide valuable service and products that they want more of.

There are apparent exceptions - like our modern car industry which has figured out how to make cars fall apart every few years so you have to buy another, even though you haven't paid off the earlier one. Or addictive foods which make you come back for more, even though they make you more unhealthy.

Myself, I drive a used truck that is paid for and love home cooking. Oddly, I live cheaper - surprised? But the price I've paid in health is less - I can lose weight anytime. And the cost of my truck in repairs and maintenence is far less than anyone's annal bill from their credit service company. I've got probably five to ten years left on this truck before I have to put in a new engine and/or transmission. But even that would be cheaper than a new truck, providing I can keep the body from rusting out.

What's the trick? Quit listening to news and their advertizers. Don't consider that you have to go along with the crowd. In other words, seek your own benefits - not those foisted off on you by people with sales quotas to meet.

What are keywords, but shortened forms of benefits? Almost code. If you check into these, they fill one of Nightingale's three wants above. So we are really just figuring out how to tell people about the benefits we are offering.

And more luck to us in this...

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