Messaging Tip: Getting your features & benefits to inform & inspire

Ah the elusive balance between informing and inspiring. How do you compellingly speak to the features of your work and the benefits while keeping it short n’ sweet?

If you’re wrestling with this, the approach we used for this Microsoft cause campaign might be really handy.

Quick background: To celebrate their first 20 years of certification, Microsoft Learning decided they’d rather create a year-long campaign to create better careers and better lives for aspiring IT pros around the world than blow out 20 candles on a big ol’ cake. For the campaign, there are 20 different ways for established IT pros to pay it forward. The ways will be revealed throughout the year. Three are currently active.

Now for the handy tip: Here are the first three Calls to Action (CTAs). Note that each one follows the same pattern: Feature. Benefit.

The advantage of this approach is that you can inform and inspire. You can inform them of the action you want them to take while inspiring them by showing the difference their action will make.

No single approach works in every instance, but if your audience responds well to the inform/inspire approach, give this one a whirl.

Bonus: Saw this ad while out and about earlier this week. (I was stopped when I took the picture, for the record. ) Washington State Lottery used it on their current bus campaign: “When you play, students win.” Same approach: Feature, benefit. (The picture is lousy but you get the point!)

When you play, students win.

How do you balance features and benefits?

Benefits, Believers & Poetry

Last week, I had the great, good fortune of spending two days In Twisp, Washington with organizations from Central and Eastern Washington. Talk about inspiring! They were a dedicated group and stuck with me as we covered a whole lotta territory in record time.

One of the many topics we covered (which included, but was not limited to: birthdays, food, dates with babies, rowing and snake eyes) was talking about the benefits of your organization rather than the features.

This is one of those topics that is an eye opener every time it comes up at a training.

Here’s a short list of features and benefits:

tutoring | knowing how to read
family planning | access to choices
education | expanded opportunities and/or connection to heritage
theater | inspiration

Super smart dude Zan McColloch-Lussier over at Mixtape Communications asks the question, “What business are you really in?” For instance, the business of tutoring or of teaching people to read? Most organizations would say, “The teaching to read business!” And yet, when asked what they do, they talk first about tutoring and then about reading.

Tutoring is how you get to your why, i.e. you tutor kids so they can read.

We also had a breakthrough moment around Believers, Agnostics and Atheists. Really, seriously, you can’t convert atheists. (Here’s a short video for those that still think they can.)

This group was also full of poets, musicians and artists. (Happy birthday sounds so much better when there are some singers in the group!). Here is a poem by one of the students on the Inspiration Sector.

When you are at a party and the conversation pauses,
You tell people that you work for causes,
Oh…they say…you work for a non-profit,
You look them straight in the eye…and say stop it!

Solving issues is my nectar,
I work in the Inspiration Sector!

So glad I work in the Inspiration Sector and got to be inspired by this fantastic group of change agents!