One of the pillars of the Marketing Concept is the idea of selling the benefits of your product or service. Benefits relate to the value that the purchaser or user gets from using what is offered.
The recent observation by HRH Prince Edward that there might some allure in the risk of death from participating in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme is a fascinating case study for several reasons.
The first has to be the lesson it gives to us all about the speed and reach of the digitally connected world. The reputation of any brand can be affected in an instant. Brand identities that have been meticulously crafted over years can be undermined in the time it takes to say something careless.
The second lesson is that there is always a difference between what is said and what it means. As Bandler and Grinder have noted “The meaning of communication is the way it is received”. Whilst the Prince thought he might have been conveying a dark sense of humour his remarks were unlikely to have been heard as ‘funny’ by relatives of Duke of Edinburgh Award participants who had died whilst they were taking part on the scheme.
The third lesson is never confuse an ‘advantage’ with a ‘benefit’. Product and Service advantages are what the seller assumes are appealling dimensions of what is offered. The Prince seems to have ‘fast forwarded’ from a hunch that the demanding and thrilling aspects of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award means that risk of death is a good thing. Oops.
Clearly what has happened is an unfortunate turn of phrase. I’m not sure that Death could ever be construed as a ‘benefit’ when selling products unless you are an arms dealer. I think the Prince is quite right to highlight the appeal of thrill-seeking, and that the DOEA organisers are right to emphasise that the award is about developing individuals as safely as possible. The prospect of challenge and risk must figure as one of the key psychographic choice factors of the target segment who are likely to join the scheme.
There are clearly personal experiential and transformative benefits associated with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and these should be emphasised. The transformative and beneficial effects of Death is perhaps a more challenging ‘sell’.
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