The ABCs of Good Concept Writing

The ABCs of Good Concept Writing

In 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 new product 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. 

Understanding the basic building blocks for developing the structure and writing a product concept can help your new product win as you plan to launch in the marketplace. 

Features and Benefits Model.

There’s no doubt that if you are doing concept writing for your job (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 features and benefits.

First things first: you need to think through your consumer insight. Why is this new product resonating with the consumer? The consumer insight defines a need in the marketplace on which your new product will deliver and is the foundation of your winning concept. The features and benefits then get layered on top.  

Both features and benefits are key components in telling the new product’s story effectively. Features highlight what your product does or has and includes the bells and whistles of your new product. 

A new product’s benefits include the “what’s in it for me,” or WIIFM, for the consumer. This may include both functional and emotional benefits.  

Including a very simple features statement helps describe your new product and can make it easy for the consumer to understand not just what it is but also how it delivers its benefits. 

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?  

In this model, companies refer to the consumer insight as ACBs, or Accepted Consumer Beliefs. 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. This becomes the base or foundation of the new product concept. 

The features of the product (its bells and whistles) are the RTBs, also known as Reasons to Believe. These support the promise you will be making to the consumer.  

The final step of this concept model is the promise, something you are going to do to make their life easier, safer, better. Benefits can be functional or emotional. When you describe this activity, you will most certainly be describing an end benefit, which, in this model, is simply called “the promise statement.” 

Good Homework Required Either Way

Photo of kids' building blocks and text that says, "The Building Blocks of Good Concept Writing"

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 to ensure you have all three building blocks. Understand your 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. 

Do you need help with your concept writing tasks? Let the new product launch language experts at Writing by Design help during the concept development phase.  

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Headshot of Patti PurcellPatti Purcell brings 30+ 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 CrystalClear℠ concept writing methodology.