First things first!

If you’re playing baseball (or any ball game that involves three bases and a home plate), what is the first thing on your mind as you come to the plate? Yeah, yeah… hitting the next pitch over the fence and winning the game with one swing of your bat. Of course. But that doesn’t happen often.

Back to reality. The first thing you want to do is get to first base. That’s a good start. You can’t bat a run in and you can’t score one yourself if you’re sent back to the bench with your head hanging low and your bat dragging behind. Gotta get to first, first.

Same thing in business. You gotta get to “first base” if you want to get the lead, the prospect, the customer, the client, the subscription, the sale. It won’t happen if you’re “sent back to the bench” which, in marketing, happens when someone leaves your ad, email, flyer or Web site to go check out another one. That’s like saying “Yer out!”

Now, as much as I agree that first base is important, I think it will be much more profitable if, instead of merely getting to first base (which can be accomplished by having a 7-foot yellow chicken wave a banner and hand out chicken nugget samples in front of your diner) you get to what I call “Firm Base”.

My business philosophy is that from first base… well, you might get some reaction, and possibly some action… but from Firm Base, everything is possible.

What is Firm-Base? It’s when you have someone’s full attention, when they are truly interested in what you’re telling or showing them, not just merely curious – as is the case with the big yellow chicken. Full attention is the key!

Now, as was pointed out in one of my recent articles, “interrupting people’s brain pattern” to get – and hold – their full attention long enough for them to do what you want them to do (so you will generate the leads and prospects you want, acquire the customers and clients you want, and make the sales you need so you can make the money required for you and your loved ones to enjoy the good things in life) is not an easy task. So many things are competing for their attention!

But it is paramount that you DO get their full attention if you are to achieve any significant level of success marketing your business, regardless of the type of business, and regardless of what marketing methods you use – Web sites, business cards, flyers, banners, networking events, emails, ads, articles, etc.

Here is a powerful tip: to grab people’s full attention, start by telling them WHY what you are marketing should be of interest to them. And THEN, you hold their attention by telling them HOW you will provide them with the benefits promised in the WHY.

WIII-FM is the most listened-to radio station in the world (What Is In It For Me?). You want to get people’s full attention? Tell them right away what is in it for them if they do what you will ask them to do – visit your Web site, subscribe to your ezine, purchase your product, join your business opportunity.

In other words, tell them WHY they should “bother”? WHY? WHY they should stop doing what they’re doing, WHY they should pay attention to you, WHY they should give you, a stranger, five to ten or more minutes of their time, WHY they should be interested in what you have to say, WHY they should ask questions, WHY they should remember you afterwards and go visit your store, your office, or your Web site, or refer you to some of the people in their sphere of influence, WHY they should subscribe to your ezine, WHY they should buy your product or avail themselves of your service, and WHY do business with you? WHY! What is in it for THEM?

Now, if you’ve done a great job with clearly stating the WHY – you are now standing on Firm Base – it will make the interested party ask “How do you do that?” or say “Tell me more!”, even if just in their own head. That’s when they “open up a drawer in their mental filing cabinet where you can put all the information they need, or want, to do whatever it is you want them to do (buy, refer, visit, support, order, register, sign up, subscribe, join, donate, etc.). That’s the ONE and ONLY purpose of the WHY – get them to ask HOW?

Until people know WHY, the HOW is totally irrelevant, of no interest to them. You want the chance to tell them HOW smart and qualified you are, HOW good your offer is, HOW helpful your newsletter is, HOW fantastic your product is, HOW incredible your MLM or home based business opportunity really is? Then get their attention FIRST with a solid WHY.

Now, here’s another potent tip: your WHY should be entirely made up of BENEFITS, while you save all the features for the HOW. Continuing with our baseball comparison, you get to Firm Base with a potent WHY, you round the bases on your way to home with an effective HOW.

The HOW is your 30-second commercial. It tells the listener HOW – HOW you do what you claim you do, HOW you deliver the value, HOW you provide the benefits you’re promising, HOW you are different from all the other accountants, realtors, lawyers, insurance brokers, coaches, speakers, financial planners, home based business builders and Internet marketer they know. HOW!

Bluntly put, if what you’re offering does not hold any BENEFIT for me (real or perceived), I do NOT care how nice you are, how long you’ve been in business, how many degrees you hold, how many awards your company has garnered, I do NOT care that you currently have a two-for-one offer, that you offer free shipping, that there are 10 glowing testimonials on your Web site, that I can get a thousand dollar of bonuses if I order your eCourse today… I will NOT CARE!... until I can SEE the BENEFIT for me!

This is so common sense it’s pathetic. However, as we all know, common sense is not common practice – ESPECIALLY in marketing and advertising.

One more thing about benefits and features: you need to know the difference.

This is a serious problem I observe daily in marketing campaigns everywhere: most marketers, it seems, don’t know the difference between the two. Let me shed some light on this. A feature is what something IS or HAS (a 28 inch blade on a lawnmower) while a benefit is what something DOES (saves time mowing the lawn). And even better if you can express the benefit(s) in terms of what that thing does FOR me, the buyer (What Is In It For ME!!!).

For example, which one of the following two approaches do you think has a better chance of enticing Bob (who’s eying a big Toro in the store) to pull out his credit card?:

“Good day sir. That baby’s got a 28 inch blade, you know?” (Bob thinking: “Who cares?”)

“Good day sir. That baby will cut your mowing time in half. Now what could you do with that extra time?” (Bob dreaming: “I could go fishing, play golf, or detail my sports car…”)

The first statement talks to the head – features. The second – benefits – goes straight to the heart. “Ka-ching!” Put another way, “Features tell, benefits sell!”

Here is a (often disputed) fact of (business) life: people buy on emotion and justify with facts. You get to Firm Base by getting people’s full attention. You get that by giving them the right information – the BENEFITS. You get to home plate by giving them an excellent (and justifiable) reason – the features – to take action. People DO buy on emotion, and justify their actions with “facts”. The sooner you’ve accepted this axiom of communication, the sooner you can use it to become more effective and persuasive in ALL your marketing messages.

Look, you’ve done a good job if you’ve made it to first-base through your marketing messages, but in my opinion, it’s not enough. Not in today’s fast-paced business world. If you want massive success, you have to get people’s full attention, aka “Firm Base”… from where EVERYTHING is possible. I call that approach “Firm-Base marketing”…

I wish you ALL the business success you desire and deserve. Remember that the success you desire is function of your ambition, but the success you deserve is function of your ACTION!

Daniel G. St-Jean
BizzBooster, and The Sparkplug of Personal Development
Author of 7 Simple Keys To Spark Change In Your Life Now!
Co-author of 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life – volume 2

Author's Bio: 

Daniel G. St-Jean is half of The BizzBoosters Inc. He and his partner Laurel Simmons have produced a powerful new Special Report entitled Discover How You Can Easily Avoid the Biggest Marketing Mistake Made by 97% of Businesspeople—Even Gurus—That’s Costing Them Thousands of Customers and Millions in Sales! Go get your complimentary copy NOW at