Discussion Article: Show me the “Reason why”

You only have to watch commercial TV or look through the ads in a magazine to see examples of content that either adopts or fails to embrace this simple directive. Business schools teach about the inclusion of benefits, as distinct from features, but in truth, it is not quite that simple.

“Benefits” is something of a catch-all phrase about stating qualities but the real test of effectiveness is whether what is stated actually resonates with your specific target market. This approach requires a sound understanding of the target’s characteristics and needs, what information is relevant and in what format and method of expression.

Information as a communication tool

Business owners/managers frequently believe that their own knowledge of their products and services means they will be able to communicate that knowledge to potential customers. Maybe, but a more objective evaluation of the target audience frequently proves otherwise.

In the old world of “bricks and mortar, specialist staff were frequently engaged to tackle the more specific questions and best practice was to ask questions to identify the real need, as distinct from what might be asked. Today, the potential customer may never engage with the business and are far more likely to seek information from multiple sources, including referrals from other s, increasingly over the Internet.

So what can we assume?

Can we take for granted that persons within any particular category are identical in their information needs? The simple answer is “No.” In many consumer categories, there may be commonalities, but in most business, trade and service groups, there are likely to be significant variations.

There are dangers in making broad assumptions if we simply do not know what information is needed and how best to express it. An understanding of the user mindset in any given category is essential. We need to know how general information is appropriate before getting to specifics.

Consider just a few examples from various industries:

Owners of vehicles requiring repairs and/or service will range from individuals barely knowing how to lift the bonnet, to dedicated enthusiasts. Trust in the service provider will probably be at the top of the list, even ahead of cost. To build that trust requires recommendations from existing customers and confidence-building explanations of services and outcomes. Together, these elements will become the “reasons why.”

How about boat owners needing a new engine, or maybe a new set of sails? The mindset in each sub-category will be quite different. Some will prioritize safety, security and cost-effectiveness. Owners of racing yachts want speed with race-winning credentials of the sailmaker. Everyone will want bullet-proof reliability and although cost will usually be a factor, trust will be the ultimate “reason why” a particular supplier is chosen.

In strictly business categories convenience, price, prompt service and supply will likely be the critical elements. For example, trades-persons are notoriously difficult to convert to new products, techniques and suppliers unless there is evidence of support from others within their particular segment. After all, if problems arise, they will usually bear the blame along with the cost and time of rectification. Information presented as “reasons why” must be factual and verifiable.

In several service categories like insurance, fear becomes a primary motivator. However, the cost of presumed security can be significant and cannot always be justified, partly for financial reasons, but also due to numerous tales of declined or reduced payouts. The “reasons why” a supplier will be accepted will likely include previous experience with an insurer and personal recommendations from friends and associates. Online, the more the content replicates these positive experiences, the greater likelihood of success.

Our job as content providers is to anticipate the user characteristics, needs in each and every specific category and provide relevant information in an appropriate way. The key words here are “relevant” and “appropriate. Anything else is likely to be useless, or ever counter-productive.

This article has been produced by the lead-writer at Please contact us for a free initial discussion about your particular category and communication objectives.

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