The Journal: Benefits vs. Features

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Benefits vs. Features: Notes on Marketing and on Writing
* Of Interest

Quote of the Day

“There’s a responsibility in being a person. It’s more than just taking up space where air would be.” John Steinbeck in East of Eden

This is easily one of the more important and apt quotes I’ve ever included here.

Benefits vs. Features: Notes on Marketing and on Writing

Matt Perryman, author of the recent guest post on marketing, also passed along a book recommendation: The Ultimate Marketing Plan by Dan Kennedy. I didn’t provide a link because I suggest you copy/paste that 7-word phrase into a search engine. You can purchase the book at Amazon, or for a lot less (used) at various places.

You might also see the Dan Kennedy + Russell Brunson — Exclusive No BS Letter Free. Note: This is NOT an endorsement. If you have the energy to check it out, go for it. I couldn’t force myself past their opening barrage, so I neither recommend it nor recommend against it. Just be careful.

Matt also wrote (in deference to a complaint from me about myself), “Beware, it’s full of self-conscious self-promotion and Kennedy is a shameless self-promoter, though usually honest about his intentions. You can learn as much from what he does as what he says.

“The good news is, the process doesn’t amount to carnival barking. In fact, you don’t have to do much but be a good storyteller who understands what his buyers (readers) want and how to scratch that itch — as you say, the benefits versus the features. It’s really nothing more than strategic use of storytelling skills in the right media to the right people.”

Re that benefits vs. features reference, long ago in another life I took the Dale Carnegie sales course. The one big takeaway for me was the bit about benefits vs. features. All products have features (duh), and you can point out those features to your prospective buyer all day long without effect.

The trick is to turn those features into benefits. Or, as Matt mentioned in his post, “Even if you’re selling soap, you aren’t selling soap. You’re selling how the buyers will feel after they’ve used your soap.”

Likewise, your task in marketing your writing isn’t to try to sell a novel or story. Your task is to convince your prospective readers of how the novel or story will affect them. That’s why the story itself is second in importance to the cover and the sales copy.

Finally, if I may be brutally blunt, it’s all-important that you actually CARE about marketing your work. If you are unable to bring yourself to care — or if even the thought of marketing makes you feel sleazy or bores you to sleep (as it does me) — then you are left with one of a few choices:

1. Force yourself to learn marketing and do a good job of it anyway,

2. Hire it done, or

3. Stop worrying about it (and hoping for the income it will generate) and try to enjoy just being a storyteller.

Of course, that last one is assuming that you enjoy writing in the first place. As I’ve said here dozens of times, if you’re a writer, WHAT you write doesn’t matter in the slightest.

If an individual story matters to you — if you make a story “important” — it will be difficult to write because you will have opened the way for criticism from your conscious, critical mind. Once you do that, you are lost. You will become mired in self-doubt and what-ifs. It’s far better to get over yourself, get out of the way, and let the characters tell the story that they, not you, are living.

On the other hand, THAT you write is easily the most important activity in your life, if not the most important aspect of it. In short, if you’re a writer, then writing — storytelling — should be your passion. With or without marketing.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

Sorry. Nothing today.

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.

5 thoughts on “The Journal: Benefits vs. Features”

  1. I would recommend (Google Translate will help) this great article by one of most famous Russian advertisers (I’ve already sent it to Harvey, but it worth reading by everyone in this blogs) – why common ways of advertisement doesn’t work for art:

    Pretty much of insights. Read it no less then 2 times.

    • Wow, Rikki! This article you linked hit it out of the park for me. For a very long time, I had been wondering what ‘benefit’ my fiction provides to buyers, and I couldn’t come up with a satisfactory answer. This article beautifully explained all that I had been contemplating but couldn’t quite put into words. Thank you so much for sharing this! I read it twice as you suggested, and have bookmarked it for additional readings. 🙂

  2. Kennedy book is FREE on Amazon if you have a Kindle Unlimited account; and about $3-4 on ebay. I believe the 4th edition (2011) is the latest.

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