In some recent new product concept writing assignments, I’ve discovered that there seems to be a lot of confusion from company to company around some of the ABCs necessary for building a good concept. It’s true we have our share of acronyms in talking about the building blocks of good concepts—RTBs, ACBs, etc.—but it appears that there are two very different (yet similar) ways of building concepts depending on your internal culture and nomenclature.
Features and Benefits Model.
There’s no doubt that if you are looking to write a concept (or give direction to a writer to help you write a concept), that you have done your fair share of looking at your new product’s potential benefits. A new product’s benefits to the consumer can be functional or emotional, or may deliver both. In any case, there has to be something about the product that helps deliver these benefits, and these are called the product’s features. Both features and benefits are key components in telling the new product’s story effectively. Including a very simple features statement that helps describe your new product can make it easy for the consumer to understand not just what it is but also how it delivers its benefits. In this model of building concepts, we generally talk about the new product being built on a consumer insight, which defines a need in the market place that your new product will of course deliver on!
Promise and RTBs Model.
Though this school of thought uses different language, it is built in similar fashion to the model above, but here, instead of thinking about what benefit your new product brings to the market, you simply think about what promise your product is making to the target consumer. What will the product do for the consumer? Why should they care? When you describe this activity, you will most certainly be describing an end benefit, which, in this model, is simply called “the promise statement.”
The promise, then, needs support to build a compelling story. A concept would never be complete without support or it would feel like an empty promise to your consumers. How will it deliver on its promise? What features are built into your new product to help it deliver this end benefit to the consumer? These are your RTBs, or Reasons To Believe, that the promise you are making is true and believable.
And, in this model, the promise and RTBs are built on ACBs, or Accepted Consumer Beliefs, which are the same as consumer insights in the prior model. New products need to deliver on something in the marketplace that you know or believe to be true in order to be compelling, and whether you call this a consumer insight or accepted consumer belief doesn’t matter. It just means you’ve done good homework and are ready to find a solution to this need—hopefully with a new product that delivers on the need.
Good Homework Required Either Way
When we work with clients, we don’t care which language or model you use in building the concepts—building the concepts is the same either way. What’s most important is that you and your concept writers do diligent homework on distinguishing between features and benefits (or promises and RTBs) upfront so you eliminate overlap and tell a logical, compelling story for your consumers that will drive sales in the future.
Patti Purcell brings 25+ years of journalism and marketing skills together to provide national and international companies with outstanding concept writing services via the company she founded in 2006, Writing by Design, LLC. She and her growing team, based in Wisconsin, have written hundreds of concepts and achieved many successful A.C. Nielsen BASES test scores over the last 10 years using their Crystal Clear™ concept writing methodology.