Lesson 67: How to stop talking about features and start presenting the benefits to translation clients

Lesson 67: How to stop talking about features and start presenting the benefits to translation clients

In my previous post, I argued that to attract the most promising prospects and turn them into loyal clients, we need to present the value of the work we’re doing. This attitude requires a shift in the way we think about translation and interpreting as a profession we engage in, but also a change in the way we describe our services to potential clients. One of the most basic and easily achievable ways of doing that is to outline the benefits of using our translation and interpreting services, i.e. presenting the benefits to translation clients.

If you look at the majority of freelance translators’ websites (including mine for the time being), we tend to concentrate on describing our background, education, experience, services – in other words, our features. For example, I go on and on about a range of business courses I completed, or the skills that I have. The reason behind it is that we feel obliged to talk about ourselves. In the end, it’s my website, so it’s about me and what I do. Ask just about any marketing professional and they’ll admit that this is not the best approach if you want to sell your services.

The key to writing effective copy (on a website, in emails, on brochures) is to make a move from describing the features to outlining the benefits to the client. How do we do that?

How to identify the real benefit?

The biggest struggle for me has always been to transform the inherent features of me and the services I offer into a range of benefits to my clients. But I’ve learned that there’s a hack to that. It’s called the “so what” or “and that means” exercise.

It’s quite simple. Take any feature of you or your services, say “I’ve never missed a deadline in my whole career as a Polish English translator”. Then look at it from the client’s perspective and ask yourself: “so what?” or continue this sentence with “and that means…. My “so what” in this example could be “you can have peace of mind because your translation will be delivered on time”. This is a better benefit for my client, but if you ask another round of “so what” questions, you’ll come up with an even better line: “because your translation will be delivered on time, it won’t unnecessarily delay your business goals.”

Moving up from features to benefits

Following this “so what” warm-up, let’s look at the stages of moving from features to benefits. The first step is to outline the features of our services. These are the fundamental aspects and characteristics of us as freelance translators or interpreters and the services we provide. If you don’t have a list of features yet, I’d recommend jotting them down.

The second level is to look at the advantages that these features give you, i.e. what features do. To give you an example, if I say that I’ve never missed a deadline (a feature), the advantage to my client will be that they’ll get the translation on time without the hassle. Hardly a benefit, is it?

Level three is all about creating benefits, where we related the feature and advantage to the client’s own situation or concern. According to some marketers, it’s fine to get a bit emotional here (and by that I don’t mean crying or shouting, but appealing to emotions). To do that, we have to know which emotions motivate our client’s choices. I, for that matter, know that my business clients are obsessed with their business goals and delivering them on time, that’s why a translation that doesn’t delay these goals has a benefit that appeals to them. If I wanted to be even more emotional, I could say that with my Polish English translation delivered on time, you’ll avoid the risk of failing to meet your quarterly business goals and having to explain the problem to the board.

How to prepare an outline of benefits?

The easiest way to go about it is to create a three-column table in Word: Feature, Advantage, Benefit. List all features of you and your services in the left column. This may require some brainstorming with colleagues or friends, but try to come up with as comprehensive a list as possible. Then look at each feature, identify its advantage and keep asking “so what” until you get to the benefit.

When I did this exercise in a preparation for the new copy for my website, I came up with 13 features that I then turned into benefits. You’ll be able to see the results soon, when the new website is released. Of course, the next step is to use these benefits in our copy on the website and in our marketing materials.

I hope that this short article has inspired you to take another look at your copy and see it through the eyes of customer benefits! Do you think that this technique is useful?

8 Comments

  1. Giannella , on Oct 22, 2013 at 12:23 Reply

    Absolutely useful technique, Marta!
    There’s a huge appeal in talking about features, specially in high-tech products & services. Sometimes we expect the customer to automatically know what those features mean for their businesses -but that’s totally incorrect. I agree with you, the right approach is to initially talk about what matters the most for your customer, so I find the question “so what” very enlightening!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Paula Gordon , on Nov 1, 2013 at 01:21 Reply

    I wish I had read this post before sending my new brochure to the printer! I didn’t quite make the leap from advantage to benefit, so I’ll have to do that in my cover letters, at least until I’m ready for a second printing. I think your advice here would also work well for crafting an elevator speech. Thank you!

  3. Recep , on Nov 5, 2013 at 15:19 Reply

    I think this technique would be quite useful, Marta- thanks! Will probably implement it in my site.

  4. Ingrid , on Nov 12, 2013 at 03:29 Reply

    Marta, you are amazing! I just got back from the American Translators Association conference and your blog posts pack in as much information as many of the presentations. I love this approach of presenting benefits and was happy to see I had already incorporated some of it into my website copy, but can definitely see there are improvements to be made! Love the blog and your amazing business sense. Thank you!!

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