It’s a bitter pill, but the truth is customers are not looking for your products. They are, however, looking for solutions to their problems. This potentially startling point of view means manufacturers need to consider the “customer’s experience” with your product. It’s a valuable point of view for both designing and marketing your product.

As a manufacturer, you need to avoid the mode of thinking: “Here is a product that we can make,” and get to, “Here is a product we make that solves a critical customer problem.” The difference is more than semantic. It’s the difference between
building a product that grows out of pure technical and manufacturing know-how, and a product that is developed by listening to your customers and understanding their challenges.

Once you’ve developed the right product, you also need to present it to your potential users with that same focus on problem solving. Your goal is to convince prospects that your product is the best solution to his/her problem. Again, you have to know what your customer’s problems are in order to develop successful products. To put it another way, walking a mile in your customer’s shoes is more than just good exercise. It’s necessary for successful marketing.

Features or benefits?

This analysis leads to the struggle between focusing on product features or product benefits when communicating with customers. When your marketing communications efforts focus mainly on product features, you force your customer to translate those features into personal benefits—which may or may not be readily apparent in a complex product.

For example, a truck commercial may boast about “more low-end engine torque” and “four-wheel independent suspension,” but not mention the respective customer benefits of increased towing capacity and a more comfortable ride. Some knowledgeable customers will make the connections, of course, but many potential buyers will be left wondering why they need those features.

Talk to your customers, listen to your sales representatives and distributors, and then tie product features to real benefits your prospect will understand and appreciate. If you would like to learn more marketing communications that speak to your customer’s experience, contact your account manager or email smcpherson@cccinc.com.