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Polling victory, books you should buy, and handshakes in a bottle

That Substack poll feature I tried out last week is pretty cool. It does indeed let you click on your desired response in the email itself, which is something I've long wanted for little "take my email list's temperature on X" polls. Here's what some of you said about the experimentation required for marketing (this is just a screenshot of the poll results, not a live in-email poll you can click on):

Two colleagues of mine have new books out in the wild, available for purchase. I've long thought that books are some of the best money we can spend to make our lives better because, while the "hit rate" might be modest overall, there are enough "unicorn-level" payouts to be had relative to the cover price. Where I personally get more grumpy about business books in general is when they waste my time. Both books I'm pointing you to here are from authors who do not waste people's time:

  • David Baker, a friend and consultant who runs a very successful small practice, writing about how to run a successful small practice: https://a.co/d/bkQmrup

  • Nick Disabato, a designer who has generated million$ in revenue lift with test and research-based design, writing about how to design e-commerce stores: https://draft.nu/storedesign/ (open for pre-orders now; the more preorders the more luxe the printing will be)

I'm a nerd, and I take a ridiculous computer rig with me when I travel by car. But that ridiculous rig does not include an inkjet printer, and so as part of our relocation to Bozeman, MT my wife and I were without a home printer for a few weeks. That's why I was standing at the counter at the Staples copy & printing center when I saw this pretty vivid example of talking about benefits instead of features:

That's a bottle of hand sanitizer, and the biggest, boldest text on the label uses some clever language to talk about a result/outcome of using the product. The smaller text talks about:

  • What percentage of germs it kills

  • What the product is

  • The quantity of the product contained in the bottle

This is benefits vs. features. Outcome vs. inputs. Results of applying the features vs. a list of features.

I like passing examples like this along because it's worth being able to distinguish between a feature and a benefit, and this is a vivid example that illustrates this distinction. The famous quote from Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt, "People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!", implies that only benefits matter. If that's what he meant, I disagree because the context will determine whether any given buyer is more or less interested in features vs. benefits. That context might be the buyer's sophistication, the stage of their consideration process they're in, the time pressure they're under, a question their boss has just asked them to research, or something else.

It’s good, though, to be able to distinguish features from benefits.

POLL (this is a live poll you can vote on):

If you're in the $10k-plus categories, I'd love to share with this email list what book(s) contributed to that ROI for you! Let me know and I'll pass the recommendation(s) along, anonymously unless you request otherwise.

Happy Thursday,-P