If you are shopping for a new car, what features do you look for? If you ask my husband, he will tell you something entirely different than I will. While the fact that most cars comes standard with power windows and locks, what I really want is comfort, safety and maybe a little style. My husband focuses more on the benefits of car ownership and what he desires, we can’t afford!

Advertising, whether online or off, should communicate product solutions and benefits NOT just features because they don’t motivate customers to buy. A benefit is something of value that a feature provides. A benefit basically answers the question – What’s in it for me? A great way to accomplish this is to engage consumers in a way that touches them either emotionally or intellectually and solves a problem or meets a need.

There is no magic formula and every business is unique with its own set of challenges and target markets, just like my car buying example. Try to look beyond the basics of demographics (age, sex, household income, family size) when speaking to your target market. Do you know how your product or service will meet an unmet need in the marketplace? Do you know the type of customer your product or service will serve and what their value system is? Do you know what your customer is worried about, their passions, what they are looking forward to or what is on their minds?

Lets go back to the car buying example. I have always been a loyal Ford customer. My husband and son try to convince me that Mazda is the way to go, but for me its all about the American experience with cars manufactured in the United States of America! To my husband and son, it’s all about the driving experience which includes speed, power, excitement and some serious fun!

Again, two entirely different target markets within the same family for the same product! Which will get the final say? Now, multiply that by every other product that a family purchases whether it is shampoo, lawn care products or video games. Who are the influencers and who are the purchasers?

The reality of advertising is that your message must be creative enough to convince a customer why they should want to come to you. Your advertising message must strive to change their opinion about a brand preference at a time when consumers have more choices than ever before.

(Note to all the other car geeks out their – My husband already corrected me that Mazda is owned and operated by Ford!)