The ultimate marketing question

by on November 28, 2010

The most important small business marketing questionWhen you are developing your communications for your small business, don’t forget to ask the most important question there is in marketing –  “So f***ing what?”

(Or if you prefer to be a little more proper in your language, you can also use – “So,  why should I care?”)

Seriously, I just want to know what’s in it for me. Please don’t make me do any homework, research or thinking. Just tell me. If you are not communicating  the benefits of doing business with you, what’s gonna stop me from going to Joe down the street?

A little marketing lesson in FAB (Features, Advantages, Benefits)

A collective groan just went up from the marketing students in the room. Getting this concept is super crucial to marketing success, but it’s also kinda hard. Let’s get into it.

When communicating your service or product, before you do anything else, you need to do up a little FAB list.

Features: The characteristics of your product or service. The “what”. What is it? What do you do?

Advantages: You guessed it – the advantages of your product or service. The “how”. How it can be used. How it can help.

Benefits: This is the results customers will get from using your product or service. The “why”. Why should I buy? What’s in it for me? Or the answer to the question “So f***ing what?”

Let’s go into some examples, class

(Disclaimer: I was a teacher before I was a marketer, and yes I’m enjoying this a little too much :))

1. ABC Motor Oil

Feature: High quality ingredients.

Advantage: You car will run better.

So f***ing what?

Benefit: Peace of mind, wherever you drive.

2. Bob’s Bread

Feature: We only use organic ingredients in our bread.

Advantage: It’s a healthier bread with no chemical additives.

So f***ing what?

Benefit: You will no longer be polluting your body or the planet with your morning toast.

Now in some cases, it may feel like maybe the FAB is kind of going too far or stating the obvious. Use your best judgment. If it feels weird, or too salesman-y, ask for a 2nd opinion. As much as possible, try to speak from your heart and imagine that you are genuinely trying to sell your best friend on your small business.

But remember, stating the obvious is often very effective. Again, you’re not making your readers do any work. You’re connecting the dots for them. Think about who your target audience is. What will resonate with them and make them feel warm and fuzzy inside? And most importantly, buy from you! As Brian Clark over at Copyblogger put it, identifying the benefits will prompt the purchase. And isn’t that what all us small business owners want?

Where does this apply?

There is no where that this question is more important than on your website – your online home where you must convince people to buy from you, visit your store, sign-up – whatever your goals are.

The question also applies to any of your marketing communications, such as your promotional materials. Think brochures, advertisements, direct mail pieces, presentations, event signage etc…

The competitive advantage

It blows my mind how many businesses don’t do the benefit thing. They just merrily list off their features, maybe a couple of advantages and they’re done. If that describes your competitors, you’re gonna blow them out of the water!

You must make the benefit of doing business with you crystal clear. Don’t leave any doubts in your customers’ minds. Showcase your benefits wherever and whenever you can. Cause after all, they’re all that really matter in the end.

Try asking yourself the ultimate marketing question, and see where it takes you…

Comments, likes and tweets are always appreciated! Did I mention that I LOVE your feedback?

Like what you read? Want more goodies like these to bolster your small business awesomeness? Sign up for email updates. You biz will thank you (and so will I!). Stoked on connecting with you 🙂

Image source:  Andy Newson /


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Oakes July 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Agree with Martina. The end benefit as I call it, (although I do like your way of saying it) is the most important as it where you focus on the emotions and ultimately that is where people choose brands. They choose categories of products for rational reasons such as breakfast cereal and then choose a brand such as Kellogg’s for emotional reasons.

Without identifying the key end benefit they can’t really develop the positioning which is the basis for all communication. Good post.
Susan Oakes recently posted..I am Confused About Marketing


Martina July 22, 2011 at 7:05 am

I love your explanation of rational vs emotional Susan. Tugging at those heart strings = rock star communications = customers 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!


Gene J. Horton May 25, 2016 at 11:53 pm

I agree with the tips you have listed in this amazing article Martina.
There are several nuggets in their for me!
i feel one needs to put their products out themselves using social media sites.
One may even start an affiliate program in which he could reward his followers for promoting his product.
I am thinking of starting my own small online business where I am going to sell the digital products I am creating.
Your tips were helpful 🙂


Martina Iring May 27, 2016 at 1:36 pm

So glad to hear that the post was a help Gene! All the best with starting your business 🙂


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