Going Beyond the Basics of Benefits: Business and Government Perspectives

I’ve written before about my marketing mantra: Always promote the benefits. I got to do exactly that in a non-business context yesterday when I spoke at city hall to support a proposal to make Tampa’s Citizen Review Board more independent.

I’m grateful that others were able to offer legal perspectives, historical context, and compelling personal accounts. My strategy was different. I assume that the hardest thing for city council members to do is justify their votes about a contentious issue to their constituents. The benefit I provided, therefore, was information they can use to explain their decision in favor of the proposal to other people.

Why did I focus on messaging for constituents instead of the proposal itself? I made this decision based on many years of doing business-to-business marketing. In many cases, the people I reach aren’t the people making the spending decisions. Describing the benefits of my product or service to my immediate audience only gets half the job done. I need to give them the information they need to convince others as well. 

Here’s how that usually breaks down:

  • You have a challenge
  • My product or service is the best solution to that challenge
  • Here’s why my solution will make your job easier
  • Here’s the proof that your entire organization will be more productive and save money with my solution

The reasoning for this is simple. The people who read my marketing materials are usually the ones using my product or service daily, so their primary concern is about what it will do for them. But, in most cases, the people in this audience aren’t cutting the check. Those who ultimately decide what product to buy probably aren’t concerned with how the product or service works on a day-to-day basis — they won’t be using it. Instead, they want to make sure they’re making a choice that provides the best return on investment. 

When I spoke to the city council yesterday, I did something similar to what I do in the business world. I wasn’t necessarily talking about how the proposal works or its legal implications. Others did that for me. Instead, I gave the city council members information they can use to tell their “bosses” — that is, the constituents they are elected to serve — how a pro vote benefits them?

Did I do this well? Maybe, maybe not. I had a three-minute time limit and spoke extemporaneously from a few notes scribbled on a scrap of paper. But would I use this strategy again? Absolutely.