You’ve heard a million times that potential customers are looking to buy your service to unlock key benefits. You should tap into these stated benefits and include them in your sales content. Yada, yada yada.

What you might not know is that yes, a potential customer may ‘state’ they are looking to achieve a specific benefit. But, in many cases, these spoken benefits are simply code for a ‘hidden benefit’ that you might not be aware of.

There are two possible reasons why you may not be aware of the real benefit they are looking to achieve:

  1. Your prospect hasn’t told you the real benefit they are seeking.
  2. They aren’t even aware, or are unable to admit to themselves, that they are actually trying to achieve this specific benefit.

How could they not know? I’m going to explain that as we go on.

If you are responsible for any aspect of selling or marketing a service, it’s your job to identify the benefit that your potential customers are looking to achieve, and convince them that your service can deliver this, in spades.

Some benefits are kept hidden by your customers and sometimes not even consciously identified, because they are, well, rather humiliating. Or, at the very least, a bit embarrassing.

These hidden benefits remind us that we are human animals with base instincts driven by our genetic need to survive and reproduce. (You might be starting to guess where I’m going now.)

Because these desires are sometimes not socially acceptable to articulate, we disguise them by verbalising other, more easy to talk about, benefits. For example, a friend of yours might say: “I’m joining the gym….because I want to get healthier”, when really they are thinking (consciously or unconsciously) “I’m joining the gym…because I want to look hotter and get a new boyfriend.” (I know, it’s a bit awks).

No matter how much digging you do, you are unlikely to get a customer willing to admit to these sorts of humiliating benefit achievement desires. Often, they don’t even show up in anonymous surveys. So, it’s time to put your psychologist’s hat on, and try to identify what potential benefits your customers might be looking to achieve, whether they are going to tell you or not.

Here are some commonly stated benefits and what could be the hidden benefits behind them. We’ve split these into B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) contexts for clarity; some of them are relevant to both.

 

  1. What they say: “I want to save time”

Hidden benefits in a B2B context:

  • I find this part of my job boring and I want someone else to do it.
  • I don’t really know how to do this myself.

Hidden benefits in a B2C context:

  • I dislike doing this myself.
  • I know I’m not very good at it but I want people to think I am.
  • I feel like this task is a bit below me, and I want someone else to do it for me.
  • I’m feeling a bit lazy.

 

2) What they say: “I want to save money or increase revenues”

Hidden benefits in a B2B context:

  • Our business is struggling, we need to find a way to increase our revenue fast.
  • We’ve realised we can sell more if we outsource part of the job.
  • We can’t afford to hire someone in house to do this full time.

Hidden benefits in a B2C context:

  • I’m struggling financially and I think this could be the answer to my prayers.
  • I think most providers of this service are overcharging but I still want it and I hate overpaying.

 

3) What they say: “I want to feel better / increase my confidence / be a market leader”

Hidden benefits in a B2B context:

  • We need this because our competition is beating us and we are trying to get the edge on them.

Hidden benefits in a B2C context:

  • My confidence about myself is very low and I need a boost.
  • I want to be more attractive or popular.
  • I don’t like myself.
  • I’m not happy.
  • I just want to be part of the ‘in crowd’.
  • Peer pressure is making me think I need this too.
  • I’m scared that if I don’t do this I’ll lose friends.
  • I can’t really afford it but I think it’ll be fun.

 

Quite eye-opening isn’t it? Some of the hidden ones are pretty sensitive. You can see why people rarely spell these out.

Your job as the marketer for your business is to consider these secret benefits, and gently show potential customers that you can help them to achieve the spoken benefits, as well as the hidden ones. You can do this through sharing case studies, testimonials, written and social media content which outlines how your business delivered both the spoken and the hidden benefits that your potential customers are looking for.

We know it can be quite tricky to work out what those (embarrassing?) hidden benefits might be, so if you’d like some help uncovering them for your own target audience, our Illumination Lab workshop can help.