Book Excerpt: Why selling with features and benefits doesn’t work
The cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that processes facts, figures and rational thought. We think this is where we make decisions because this is where conscious thought—the little voices in our heads—resides. We know we are thinking, and thinking rationally, because we hear that little voice talking and rationalizing in our brains.
The limbic system is where we process feelings and emotions, and it is in the limbic system that we actually make our decisions. We think we’re making our decisions rationally, but really we’re making them based on how we feel—our emotions, our hunches and our intuitions. And then we use our cerebral cortex, the facts-and-figures part of our brain, to rationalize our decisions after they are made. It is because we make decisions in our limbic system that decisions feel right or feel like what we want.
A product’s features and benefits are the facts and figures of the marketing world. We create and process features and benefits in our cerebral cortex, along with all of the other rational arguments advertisers use in traditional marketing communications to try to persuade you to buy products and services, make donations or vote for a politician. If you are talking to customers in the language of features and benefits alone, you are talking into the wrong part of their brains! You are talking into the cerebral cortex, which is not the part of the brain that makes decisions. It is like trying to convince somebody of something by speaking Italian when all they understand is English. You can talk compellingly in Italian until you are blue in the face, but they are never going to understand you.
To influence decision making, you need to speak into a person’s limbic system. Your Core Proposition (your 7 words or less) creates an emotional resonance because it speaks into your limbic system. When your your Core Proposition resonates with somebody emotionally, they will align with you. Your Core Proposition is an expression of the cause you are committed to (in the case of Apple, “We change the game in everything we do”), not what you do or how you do it.
The president of a university was a new client of ours. As we were explaining the role of emotional resonance in a Blueprint to her, she told us that the limbic system was her area of academic specialty. She told us it was true that decision making happens in the limbic system and then jokingly added that she wished more decisions were made in the cerebral cortex on a rational basis, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
Our book – “Why Should I Choose You?” (answering the single most important question in business in 7 words or less) – explains in detail how your Core Proposition creates an emotional resonance that makes sales come faster and easier,