Could You Sell This Pencil?

Taylor Wells

For years, credit union training and community bank training has emphasized features and benefits, features and benefits, features and benefits (repetition intentional).

In reality, staff are much better equipped when they receive training related to benefits and features, benefits and features, benefits and features (flip of words and repetition also intentional).

Why is this?

The reality is consumers don't get as excited about your product's features as you think they do. While the features do matter, you probably won't get someone to sign up for your checking account just because it has no minimum balance requirements. The same applies to lending. Most consumers don't care about the rate (a feature) as much as they care about how much they can save each month (a benefit).

It's the classic "WIIFM" principle, or "what's in it for me?" People want to know how they will benefit. They want to know how you can save them time, money and hassle.

Features tell; benefits sell. Features tell your consumers what, but benefits tell them why. Features bore; benefits soar.

Imagine you were trying to sell a pencil. What are some of the features of an average pencil?

  • The shape (most are hexagonal)
  • The color (most are yellow)
  • The lead (it’s not lead at all but actually graphite)

If you were trying to sell someone a pencil, focusing on its hexagonal shape, yellow color and actual chemical composition (zzzz) would be dry and boring at best. But what if you focused more on the benefits to the user instead of merely the features?

It's like this:

  • The shape helps prevent hand cramping over longer periods of time and enhances creativity. It empowers you to do more, learn more and create more, all in one simple shape!

  • The color saves you time and frustration because, as a busy executive, your desk is likely full of supplies and project notes. When you need to find the tool you're looking for, you need that item to stand out.

  • The lead is actually graphite to protect your safety. It is responsibly mined and provides jobs for hard-working people, ensuring your purchase benefits you and others in your community.

You can see the much stronger marketing approach of talking about benefits over features. Imagine how much stronger your own messaging could be if you used a similar approach when discussing loans and deposits.

Consumers respond much more positively to your marketing when you give them a real reason to act. Make sure your community bank and credit union training focuses more emphasis on benefits to help get this message across.

Taylor Wells
Experience Director