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Features vs. benefits: the never-ending trap that we all fall into

Back in the dark ages, when the Job Board Doctor was first learning the mysteries of sales and marketing, he was told that he should “sell benefits, not features.”

Fast forward, umm…many years. I’m still telling clients (and myself) to focus on the benefits, not the features. You think I would’ve learned by now!

It’s a tough lesson to learn. For one thing, it’s a lot easier to list the new, snazzy, ‘gee whiz’ features that your job board has: “Integrates with Twitter! Saves 16 versions of your resume! Reaches over 3 million employers!

To which the job seeker says: “Yeah? So? What’s in it for me?

This is a perfectly legitimate question. Why should I, as the job seeker, care if you integrate with Twitter? As far as I’m concerned, you can cohabitate with Twitter and produce a thousand little Tweets – that doesn’t help me get a job, does it?

Ultimately it all comes down to this: what does this feature do for the customer (whether she is a job seeker or employer)? For instance, instead of the afore-mentioned resume feature, how about: “Create a targeted, persuasive resume in seconds for every job. No more one-size-fits-all!”

Look hard at how your job site talks to potential and current employers as well. Are you simply besieging them with lists of features – or really breaking out how your site can benefit them?

Another trap that we can stumble over: failing to repeat and restate our benefits. Remember – your prospects are overwhelmed with messages. To break through, you must be persistent, delivering the message at least 5 to 10 times before expecting that your prospect actually heard you. Don’t jump from one set of benefits this week to another set next week. If you do, you’ll end up with no one hearing you.

Bottom line: Always answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” Always.

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