I took a small business class at BCIT in September of 2007. It was great, because it allowed me the time and space to finally write that business plan I’d been putting off for the last six years or so before. Part of the course included a chunk on marketing, and any basic marketing course will teach you about the basic marketing principles of features and benefits.
Features are the specific things that the product or service that you are selling possesses. For example, if you are selling a painting, you can say that its done in watercolours or oils, how large it is, its primary colour scheme.
Benefits are how the product or service can help you. That same painting, for example, might look perfect hanging above your couch, or perhaps appreciate in value, and make you a bunch of money.
Truthfully, we don’t often buy stuff because of its features. Socks, maybe. Or a juicer. Most people buy based on emotions, and as artists, I think we have an edge. When you’re happy, what kind of music do you listen to? When you’re sad, or depressed? How do you feel when you stand in front of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers? When you watch the final scene of The Princess Bride?
The advertising agencies of the world spend much of their time trying to elicit an emotional relation to their products, because they know that people will buy something that makes them feel a certain way.
Despite the fact that Rent is now closed, it remains, still, one of my favorite musicals. Yes, I’d go so far as to call myself a Renthead, and be proud of that label. Why? Rent got me in the gut. Big time. I remember so clearly hearing those songs for the first time, watching the 1996 Tony Awards, and being totally blown away. I absolutely remember not being able to see most of the second act when I saw it at the Nederlander in New York, because I was crying so hard. I remember how nervous I was singing Amazing Grace when I auditioned for the local production. I am a rabid fan, because I connected with the show’s message, lyrics and philosophy on a gut level.
What happens when you get people at a gut level is, they become passionate about your cause, passionate about your work. So the more passionate you are, and the more you are able to communicate that in a way that solicits emotions, the better chance you will have that someone will buy your CD, come to your play or film, or buy your painting, sculpture or photograph.