Most Web sites assume that Web site visitors can figure out for themselves why they should buy your products and services. This might be true, but it’s often not true. Don’t take the chance! Tell your customers – in clear and simple words – why they should buy from you.
There’s a sound psychological reason for this. In her book “Mindfulness”, Ellen Langer, a Harvard psychologist, told the story of an experiment she conducted that’s become known as the “photocopier experiment”. In her experiment, she was testing how people would respond to being asked to do a favor. The university had a photocopy and there was a big line of people waiting to use the photocopier and had somebody come in, cut into the line and say, “Excuse me, could I please use the copier?” Now of course there was this big long line of people there waiting, and most people said, “No you can’t. Go to the end of the line.”
In the next version of the experiment, she had the person come up and say, “Excuse me, could I please use the copier because I’m in a rush?” The only difference was that this person gave a reason. This time almost everybody said yes and allowed them to cut into the line.
Then she went a little bit further in the final version of the experiment, where the person asked, “Excuse me, could I please us the copier because I have to make some copies?” When you think about that, that makes no sense at all! And yet she discovered that the result of this was exactly the same as giving a valid reason. So people were still happy to allow the person to break into the line just because she gave the reason even though the reason didn’t really make much sense.
How do you use this on your Web site?
Obviously I’m not suggesting that you provide spurious and irrational reasons for people to buy your product! But I do recommend that you do provide some reasons. Don’t just assume that people will figure out for themselves why they should buy it.
This is where it’s so important to list the benefits of your product or service. Make sure that the words you use on your Web site are benefit-oriented rather than feature-oriented. Instead of telling your potential clients what your product can do (features), tell them what it can do for them (benefits). In other words, describe the product in terms of the result it offers rather than the product itself.
- If a breakfast cereal has “90% less sugar”, that’s a feature; if it “keeps you active longer”, that’s a benefit.
- If your vacuum cleaner “picks up twice as much dirt” as others, that’s a feature; if it “saves you time because you will use it less frequently”, that’s a benefit.
- If your accounting practice “employs only fully qualified CPAs to do your tax return”, that’s a feature; if that means “we save a typical taxpayer $2000 a year”, that’s a benefit.
It’s very common for business owners to talk about features rather than benefits on their Web site, because products have features, and business owners are often very close to their products. But that’s not the way that your client thinks. It requires an extra step – a very important extra step – to translate each feature into a benefit for your client.