By Andrew Neitlich

The danger of using secondary benefits

By Andrew Neitlich

My week is 100% about copy writing.

During the week, a colleague of mine taught me an important lesson that applies to anything you write about your business:

Know the difference between a primary and a secondary benefit, and focus hard on primary benefits.

A primary benefit is the bottom line reason someone hires you. A secondary benefit is a softer ancillary benefit, one that often supports your primary benefit.

So, in the case of your business, what is the primary reason clients hire you? Chances are that, if your clients are businesses, there is a single reason:

– You help them make more money in less time

Then there are secondary benefits:

– You make them look better by improving their image

– You give them a new way to reach new prospects/clients

– You get things done quickly

– You make them feel better about the image their business conveys

– Don’t be left behind with a lousy web site or no web site at all

I’m NOT saying that the above are the only primary and secondary benefits. But you have to hone in on the fundamental, driving reason that people buy from you. Your marketing message flows from that. If you focus too much on secondary benefits (things you might care about but your clients don’t as much), you will not generate as much revenue as you could.

Let me give you an example. I asked a web designer why I should hire him. His response: “I can help make the design on your site use more curves and other elements that look better.” Now there is no way, I’m going to pay $50 or more per hour for curves and other elements. Would you? This designer, and many like him, need to come up with a primary reason for people to buy.

Depending on your target market and service offering, there are plenty of primary benefits. Take a stab by posting yours here, for critique and discussion.

Oh, and have a peaceful, joyous Christmas, for those who celebrate it!

  • Good point. I think it’s very easy to get used to seeing things from our own point of view – ie the technical skills involved in web design and to somewhat forget the real benefits to customers.

    Probably a bit of the attitude comes from safety. It’s a lot easier to deliver on a promise of curves than a promise of greater profits.

  • Never thought of it that way. Thanks for the enlightment – I will give it a try..

  • simetau

    Excellent point. I always try to make a point of informing my clients what a website (designed by my company) can offer their business in the way of the bottom line.

    Speaking to them from a marketing point of view and not a designers point of view is a good thought process to get in.

    When they are excited then tell them that you can do curves!

  • You’re exactly right Andrew. Focus has always been a soft spot with me.

  • Cranial-bore has a good point! But the “safety” is not going to help you win more clients. You need be confident of improving their situation, otherwise you shouldn’t really be taking their money.

    The catch with this is coming up with your primary benefit. The more specific (and therefore less generic) the better. Not easy, is it? ;) Thinking cap on…

  • In my area it’s hard to decide what is the primary benefit: “make more money in less time”, “get things done quickly” or “don’t be left behind with a lousy web site or no web site at all”. These are all very very important for all of my clients, I’ve learned the lesson last year. It’s interesting that “don’t be left behind” has higher priority on their list than “get things done quickly” and money comes only in the third place. My clients are web design firms and they need trust and credibility when starting a partnership with a development solution provider.

  • Jonathan Snook

    Norbert: I think the “lousy web site” is an effective sell for people who have gone through the experience before. People who have gotten their site done by friends or web shops who just don’t know what they’re doing.

    Cranial: I think a lot of the hesitation is that we, as hired developers/designers, tend to only work on a small portion of a project and in that way, it’s harder to sell ideas like “more profits”. For example, a company hires you to do their site but they’ve provided the copy. To upsell, you could say that your services will be more effective if you have greater input into the whole process. This would include editing or suggesting copy changes for premium keyword placement, developing overture or adword campaigns (or other marketing strategies). Establish yourself as being committed to their long term goals and not just as a quick hire for a small portion of their overall strategy. Then you can be a lot more confident that you will increase traffic and/or profits. :)

  • Jonathan: Exactly. As I wrote, my clients are webdev companies who outsource some of their projects. Usually I’m not the first person they work with and by knowing the attitude of the average developer, I’m sure they have been burnt at least one time before. They are afraid of outsourcing because they think they don’t have control over you working outside the office. The first step in January is establishing a company and looking for partners & projects instead of staying freelancer and looking for jobs. I have some great developers who sometimes work with me and I’ll probably ask them to join my company as developers; at the end of the next year I don’t want to do software development anymore, except for fun, own products & tools for myself. This is my pledge(?) for the next year :)

    Merry Christmas everyone (those who celebrate it).

  • nydr

    My primary benefits are
    -increasing revenues (make more money)
    -fast turn around time (time it would take to see a product)

    Those are the main two i’ve learned since i’ve been offering services. But people still go for what looks best because it impresses them. that is where the getting what you pay for term comes in. They’ll pay for something really nice but don’t know that it’s just pretty and no one will be seeing it on the web at all. People don’t know that the internet is based on marketing schemes not visual manipulation. The only way you see the link is if it’s either pasted on a page or sent to you from someone you know because every email address now just gets spam protected.

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