“This is fun!!!” my 3-year-old, Jamie shouted, as he looked at me from the passenger seat of a go kart.

I couldn’t have agreed with him more, as we swerved and sped our way around a tight track, with the wind blowing through our hair on a late summer weekend morning.

Of course, the part of the story that I’m not leading with is how much trouble it was getting Jamie to leave the house. As any parent of a toddler knows, if you want to leave, they want to stay. If you want to stay, they want to leave.

You’re also not dealing with someone who’s totally stable. Their behavior is capable of turning on a dime. How do you navigate these troublesome times?

Some call it bribery. Some call it leading with the benefits. Maybe it’s a combination of both.

“If you’re good, we can do the go karts,” I told him in the moments preceding our trip to the park. “We can go really fast and feel the wind blowing through our hair.”

Eventually, he reluctantly agrees to leave the house. He looks at me, unsure he can trust the person who made him finish his green beans the night before. Then he climbs in his car seat, ready to go.

That first sentence…”If you’re good…” There’s a note of bribery in there. That’s not the important part for marketers. The second sentence is all about stressing the benefits of the trip.

Whether you are a parent or a marketer or both, the importance of benefits is that they sway the argument in your direction.

The Importance of Benefits: They Sway The Buying Decision

We like to tell ourselves that our motives change when we grow up. But the truth is that our decisions are based on emotion. They’re based on how something makes us feel.

That feeling of going really fast in the open air is more important than the size of the go kart engine. Unless you are extremely mechanical, or you’re a car person, the size of the engine doesn’t matter. Speed matters. That feeling of warm summer air blowing through your hair matters. That feeling of being with your kid while they have a look of pure enjoyment.

I didn’t buy that time on the track because I was enthralled with the engine. I bought it for how the experience would make me feel. That is the importance of benefits.

Your Marketing Makes The Case for Your Product

Don’t just spew out the facts as you write your marketing copy. It’s a good way to sink down into the middle of the pack, and get lumped in with the ordinary.

What if I framed my conversation with my son this way:

“If you’re good we can go do go-karts. They are made with a 212cc, 6.5 horsepower engine!”

I barely know what I wrote in that last sentence, and don’t profess to understand it. I’d receive a totally blank stare from my son if I said it. He just wants to go fast, and that’s how most adults would feel too.

Your customers just want the benefits. Your product specifications might help justify a purchase, but they’re not going to make the sale. That’s the importance of benefits – they help your readers identify with your offering, and of course, they help you sell.

Writing about your products and services requires a certain level of creativity. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone, and truly understanding what you do from your customers’ perspective.

It requires understanding the feeling of the wind through your hair.

Matt Brennan is a Chicago-area marketing writer and copy editor

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