How many washes?

Focus on what your product means for your customers

While sorting the washing today (having a 2-year old son makes this a regular occurrence), I found myself staring at the box of washing powder. 100 washes it proudly boasted. Not 1,75kg which it could also have done, 100 washes.

Why? Well, as impressive as almost 2kg of washing powder sounds, it means nothing to people like you and me who’ll be buying it. And Procter & Gamble knows this. It comes down to the whole subject of features and benefits. Alongside, ‘gets things whiter even at 30°’ and ‘don’t panic, your colours are going nowhere’, one of the main benefits of this box is how many washes we will be able to squeeze out of it. Well that’s why I bought it anyway. I have no idea if it’s accurate but I know that the advertising spoke to one of my needs – a box of powder that’s going to stand the toddler test!

As a copywriter, one of the first things I ask my clients is “who is the intended audience?”. The moment I know this, I am able to try and put myself in their shoes and consider what it is they really want from a product. Which problem is this product going to solve for them? What is going to be pivotal to them purchasing it. And that’s where features and benefits come in again.

Between you and me, I actually like features – especially when it comes to electrical gadgets! And they’re important too, especially when differentiating between similar products, or backing up the benefits with some facts. Yet, too many people, the information is just confusing and at times overwhelming. And rather than being bombarded with gigabytes and pneumatic back support, people quite often just want to know how many images will fit on an SD card and how long they’re going to be able to sit in that office chair before their back starts moaning.

Going back to the washing powder, I started thinking of what a deeper benefit level could sound like. What about: ‘tell your wife you’ve got the kids’ washing sorted for the next four months’, or even, ‘we know you take pride in your family’s appearance; so do we’. I can even now imagine a TV ad with people burying their heads in towels, inhaling deeply and savouring the fresh, clean post-washing effect with the caption ‘home is where the Ariel is’. And this is a sign I’ve probably been sniffing too much of the white stuff (washing powder of course!). And that idea would probably work better for softwash anyway.

Conclusion: Don’t just focus on your product or service; focus on what it means for your customers.