Why Results and Motivation beat Features and Benefits

Understand the pain of each customer segment first

Start with the results and motivation

Features are important, but they come at the end and not the beginning.  Puzzled?  Read on and this will become clear. The key points are:

  1. Results and Motivation define the problem
  2. Features and Benefits define the solution.
  3. The problem must be your starting point.

The image shows the relationship between each term.
Business Motivation
There are many ways to define a customer segment and there is no single right answer.  “It all depends” does sound vague, but the longer version is clearer: it all depends on the type of problem you think your product or service can solve.  A customer segment is more than a demographic profile. Whether you are selling to businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C), the main steps are the same. For simplicity, let’s just call then customers.

You need to understand and describe both the pain (problem) and the intensity. The latter is shows a willingness to pay money to address the pain.  One way to do this is to pose two questions:

  1. What results are these customers looking for?
  2. Why do they want these results? What is the main motivation that drives them?

It may help to think of specific customer types and put yourself in their shoes.  As you build you list of results and motivation, different customer segments should emerge.  For this exercise, if different types of customer share the same problem, they really belong to the same customer segment.

You are now ready to look at features and benefits

Now that you are clearer about the problem, you can look at your solution and how best to articulate the value proposition.  The degree to which your solution addresses the problem has a material impact on the value to your customer. A mouth-watering dish of oysters has no value to someone like me, who feels sick at the sight of an oyster!  There are now two further questions for you to ask:

  1. What are the most important benefits that your customer will recognise as matching the desired result?
  2. What are the most important features that will offer these benefits?

A further refinement is to rank these features on a scale of 1 to 10.  A score of seven or less means that the feature is not that important in the eyes of your customer.  Your marketing collateral: text and images on your website, brochures as well as advertisements and posts on social media all need to address one or more of the “hot buttons”.  This means they show how your product and service will achieve the desired result and they take account of the underlying motivation.  Images are a very effective way of striking the right emotional response.

Let’s look at a simple example of a car

What might seem as the same benefit of “fuel efficiency” may not have the same value for each customer segment.  The budget conscious family wants to save money, whereas the “wealthy greenie” is more interested in saving the planet.  The engine is a feature as this is the “means to an end”.  You need link the benefit of fuel efficiency to both the result and what motivates each customer segment.  The last step is to give evidence that supports your claim to deliver the desired result.  This is where you can use images to resonate with the motivation.


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So how can you put this into practice?

Start by looking a product or service that you are familiar with.  It helps to choose something that is of interest to you or your business.

Then try doing this for one of your main products or services.  It is difficult to do this by yourself and you really need input from prospective or current customers.  What do they really value?

Do look around for examples of companies that do this well or badly.  You can learn from both.

You are welcome to add the ones you like best or hate most as a comment to this post.

Simon Fawkes CaricatureSimon Fawkes
Accredited Mindshop Facilitator
Business to Markets Ltd


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