So What? How to Elicit Benefits from Features

"So what?" is a lovely question.

It can lead to a punch on the nose if you tactlessly say it to others to challenge their ideas but, when you use it to question your own decisions it has endless uses. Today I'm going to describe a process for applying it to elicit benefits from features and to determine if a marketing task is really worth it!

This article will require you to roleplay in your own head, or better still, get the help of a colleague or friend to play the role of the "So what customer".

Eliciting Benefits From Features

Now, imagine, if you will, for a moment your business...

...Think of a service or product you provide...

...How do you currently describe it to potential customers?...

...Okay, now put yourself in the position of one of your customers or potential customers and ask yourself, "So what does that mean to me?"...

...You should be able to elaborate on your initial description to provide more specific and relevant information about your offer...

...Put yourself in the shoes of your customer again and ask, "So what does that mean to me?" in response to your elaboration...

...Aim to keep this dialogue going until you run out of answers to the "So what?" question...

...If you write these responses down you will begin to see a hierarchy of benefits leading from what is usually a simple feature...

...The final response should describe the core benefit to your customer although the journey on the way to this will uncover lots of other useful benefits to consider and use...

Next time you communicate (when networking, talking or writing) about your product or service you might want to start at the other end of this hierarchy (the end with the juicy benefits) and build your message around that.

Remember, most people buy benefits not features.

A feature might describe something in technical terms. A benefit, however, will describe it in a way that your customer can associate to their position, needs and goals.

Here's a slightly cynical but appropriate quote you might find useful "Bend the facts to fit the conclusion. It's easier that way."

Justifying Marketing Spend

There's another great use of the "So What?" question - during a Lean Marketing Detox. Not sure what a detox is, then read your f'ree ebook that came when you signed up to Lean Marketing Champions!

During a detox you list all your marketing tasks and evaluate them to work out what works and what doesn't. The "So What?" question comes in really useful during the "Cost Money" justification section. You will be putting all of the Cost Money tasks on a chart one by one and then asking yourself the question "So What?".

For example, you may have "Get A New Logo" as a Cost Money task. You'll use the question in the following way...


Get A New Logo.


So you'll have a New Logo - So What?


My current logo sucks and I've seen people sniggering behind my back after receiving my business card. If I want to be taken seriously, the Word Art logo I'm using now will have to go. I think a new logo will help me to make more money.


I just feel like a change. One of my competitors has just changed their logo and it looks lovely - dead cool. I'm not sure red is in this season either. I just want to do it to keep up with the competition.


I'm about to change address anyway, so I'll have to get new stationery. The current logo was a good 'temporary solution' while I got myself up and running but now I want something that can become a permanent part of my identity. I think it's necessary to get this right now.

If you opted for ANSWER 1 then your task will have been redeemed.

If you opted for ANSWER 2 then your task was a genuine, 'recreational marketing', time wasting, little nasty - DUMP IT. Reprimand your temporary stupidity - destroy that task and then pat yourself on the back - good work!

If you opted for ANSWER 3 then it's a toughie. This one hangs on by the skin of it's teeth but we'll be dealing with it using the 'Pain or Gain' Matrix.

If you want to know more about the Truth Chart, The Pain or Gain Matrix and the "So What?" chart, then read the Detox book that came when you signed up - if you can't find your book (or never got round to reading it - shame on you!) you can access it here -

As you can see, The "So What?" question can really have a number of meanings. It could mean "So what will you get if you do take this action?" or "So what could be the consequences of not taking this action?" or it could just be a blunt question that prompts truthful justification.

I love "So What!"

Speak Soon,

'Dangerous' Debbie Jenkins
[email protected]

(c) Copyright 2005

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