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Direct Selling: Information Plus Emotion

How to create your higher-order benefit

July 2008 By Brent Niemuth
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Answer this question: Why do people buy from you?

Seems like a simple question, but it can be difficult to answer for many companies. The fact is, people buy for various reasons, but ultimately, most people make their buying decisions based on emotions—how they “feel” about a product or the emotional connection to the brand. As we know, brands are based on relationships. Relationships between companies and their customers. And relationships—good ones anyway—are based on emotion, shared values and things you have in common. So how can your brand make an emotional connection with your customers? You need to identify a “higher-order benefit” that means something to them.

What exactly is a higher-order benefit? Think of it as the emotional takeaway for customers. It’s the intangible benefit they leave with after doing business with you. A higher-order benefit is a relatively new and often misunderstood concept in the world of branding. As consumers evolve, become more savvy and demand more from the brands they buy, companies have to figure out ways to stay relevant. Let’s face it, the days of selling our items to customers based on unique features alone are gone. We can no longer simply say, “Our product is faster and smaller than the competition, and we’re offering it to you at this price.” The consumers are now in charge. We’re playing in their arena by their rules. And they want more than just a good product at a good price. They’re asking, “What’s in it for me?” We’ve been telling them WHAT we’re selling, but they want to know WHY they should buy.

When building a brand, it’s important to answer the following three questions:
1) Who are you?
2) What do you do?
3) Why does it matter?

Three little questions with big implications. The first one is relatively easy. The second one is a bit harder. But the third is the most difficult. Why should people buy from you? Why are you in business? Why does it matter? That’s where the higher-order benefit comes in. It answers the “why.” But it’s nearly impossible to answer the third question without first answering the previous two.

So, let’s walk through the process of discovering your company’s higher-order benefit.

Who Are You?
This isn’t simply stating the name of your company. What you want to identify is the true personality of your brand. How do you want to be perceived? What does your brand look like? What does it sound like? What are the characteristics of the brand? It’s easiest to think of your brand as a real person. Literally!
 

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