How to turn the cool stuff you know into something people want to pay for


There’s a rather magical process of translating the nerdy things you like to do for people into something they want to pay for: Features → Benefits → Outcomes.

Let’s say you’re a tile polisher. You’ve been trained in Italy and most people in America don’t really get how much goes into tile polishing—there’s burnishing, leveling, color-matching, and at least half a dozen other processes. You had to apprentice for two years before you could list yourself as a member of the International Association of Tile Polishers.

You love what you do—and if only people can see your work, they love it too! In a matter of hours, you can make an entire home’s tile look a thousand times better—saving them thousands in re-tiling! And yet—sadly—most people don’t understand how cool being a tile polisher is. And it’s hard to sell them on the service when they don’t really understand it. They sometimes ask, “why can’t I just go to Home Depot and rent a tile polishing machine?” Sigh.

It’s so frustrating. You try to explain: multi-level burnishing, charismatic leveling, grout reduction… You just can’t get that kind of quality from a machine. You try to talk at parties, but no one wants to listen.

Finally, you have an epiphany: When my clients rave about my work, they tell everyone how cool their kitchens look, and how much money they saved. They almost never talk about the burnishing techniques I showed them!
You have realized: Your customers don’t care how you do what you do—they care about the results. Your marketing needs to tell people how cool they will look, how much money they will save, how great they’ll feel when they get your service done—and you’ll just have to keep the burnishing techniques to your Tile Polisher Society meetings.

* * *

While I just made this whole thing up, there is a direct parallel to any technical service you might provide to clients (or, any cool product you make). Because you are a technician, you love every nerdy detail of what you do; but your clients probably don’t care at all. In fact, a key reason they are paying you is to not have to know about it!

When we have a skill, we often want to go into vast detail about the technicalities of that skill. And all that stuff has meaning—to us. But what our customers pay us for is the outcomes that come from it.

There is a process you can use that will always help you do a better job of translating what you love into something your clients will want to pay for: Features → Benefits → Outcomes.

Translating your features into benefits

Let’s take the tile polisher. He’s very excited about the burnishing techniques, and his current website goes on and on about how cool it is, in thick, long paragraphs. In his mind, that is a feature of the service he offers. He thinks it’s really cool, the way a developer of word processing software thinks it’s really cool when they add a new grammar checking feature.

But from conversations with customers, our tile polisher has discovered that the real reason most people hired him was that they felt embarrassed at their unsightly tile. So, the main benefit for them was relief from embarrassment. Or you could say, looking cool.

And this is super important, by the way: Everything is about the perceived reality of the customer—not an objective reality, or your reality. You might think it’s dumb to be embarrassed by old tile, but you’re not the customer. You have to get inside their head in order to see what gets them out of bed in the morning. Different groups of people think differently, and they all probably think differently than you, because you’re the technician.

Learning more, he discovers that, now that their patio tile is so beautiful and sparkling, they are having a lot more garden parties. This has resulted in several more friendships. So you could say that an outcome was more friendships. When he starts talking about those things, people start to feel excitement, and his life gets a lot easier.

See how this works? You look at the cool stuff you provide and see how they see it.

This is a practice, and the more you do it, the more it will improve your copy, what you say when someone asks what you do, and anywhere else. Practice it as best you can, and see how it works for you!

If you’d like some help translating your skills into things people are yearning to pay for, contact me now.