Features versus Benefits Worksheet

Part 1 – List five main features of your product/service in the space provided, list the co-ordinating advantages that relate to the feature, and then convert those features and advantages into the benefits that customers/clients realize from using the product. Have a number of people in your business or people who know your product if you are a small business fill out the Features versus Benefits Worksheet.

People buy benefits, nothing else!


Name of Product: ___________________________ [Make a sheet for each product/service]

Part 1


Feature Advantage Benefit
“The components of a company, item or servicethat yield an advantage &a benefit.” “The way a company, itemor service can assist in thesolving of problems orfulfilling of needs.” “The results/return acustomer can expect orreceive in: dollars, time,etc.”  What’s in it for me!


Part 2 – Summarize Major Items from Part 1


Feature 1:  



Feature 2:
Feature 3:
Feature 4:
Feature 5:



SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis

Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats

Performing a simple SWOT Analysis will help a firm understand it position in the market.



In terms of product strength, what are the distinct advantages the company has over the competition?    


How else is the product / service favorably differentiated from the competition?

In actual performance     
In quality and reliability     
In production efficiencies     
In breadth of line and / or options    


What are the company’s powerful marketing assets?    


What are the corporate strengths?

Financial resources     
Business Relationships     



What are the handicaps or weaknesses in the company’s products?    



What are the company’s corporate weaknesses?    


Other known threats include?    



List the identified opportunities for the company’s products for the next 3-5 years.    


Unexploited Opportunities

Can the current line of products and technological capabilities be leveraged effectively into other markets?  
  • Yes
  • No



If yes, detail.




Identify those threats to your business that may come from inside your organization.

Internal Threats    



Identify those threats to your business that may come from outside your organization.

External Threats    


Preventive Actions to Be Taken  


Other Comments and Insights:


Features versus Benefits Worksheet

Part 1 – List five main features of your product/service in the space provided, list the coordinating advantages that relate to the feature, and then convert those features and advantages into the benefits that customers/clients realize from using the product.

People buy benefits, nothing else!


Name of Product: ___________________________ [Make a sheet for each product/service]

Part 1


Feature Advantage Benefit
“The components of acompany, item or service

that yield an advantage &

a benefit.”

“The way a company, itemor service can assist in the

solving of problems or

fulfilling of needs.”

“The results/return acustomer can expect or

receive in: dollars, time,

etc.”  What’s in it for me!


What you can do for Market Research

What you can do for Market Research?

Marketing research is limited only by your imagination. Much of it you can do with very little cost except your time and mental effort. Don’t forget that many governments – local, state, and federal – have on line data bases like the census that can be targeted for your specific industry and location. Here are a few examples of techniques small business owner-managers have used to gather information about their customers. What you can do for Market Research – with the interenet and help from local Colleges just about anything you want/need when it comes to marketing research.


License plate analysis

In many states license plates give you information about where a car’s owner lives. You can generally get information from state agencies on how to extract this information from license numbers. By taking down the numbers of cars parked in your location you can estimate your trading area. Knowing where your customers live can help you aim your advertising for good effect. Or, how about tracing your competitors’ customers using the same approach to win them for your business.


Telephone number analysis

Like license numbers, telephone numbers can tell you the areas in which people live. You can get customers’ telephone numbers on sales slips, from checks and credit slips, and the like. As noted before, knowing where your customers live can give you an excellent idea of the way they live and what they are like.


Coded coupons and “tell them Joe sent you” broadcast ads

You can check the relative effectiveness of your advertising media by coding coupons and by including phrases customers must use to get a discount on some sale item in your broadcast ads. This technique may also reveal what areas your customers are drawn from. Where they read or heard about the discount offered in your ads will also give you information about their tastes.


People watching

You can learn a great deal about your customers just by looking at them. How they dressed? How old do they appear to be? Are they married? Do they have children with them? This technique is obvious and most owner-managers get their feel for their clientele just this way. But how about running a tally sheet for a week keeping track of what you’re able to tell about your customers from simple outward clues? It might just confirm what you’ve thought obvious all the time, but it might also be instructive.


Customer Survey

If you are a business owner, these questions are for you. Have you conducted your own private interview of customers? Have you personally talked to at least 50 to 60 customers to find out what they like or dislike about your business, products and service?


A personalized business survey is a simple thing to prepare and implement. If you do it regularly, you can find when and where things are breaking down in your service.


Use a piece of 8.5 x 11 inch paper with the following types of yes and no questions:


1. Is the service we provide meeting your highest expectations? If not, what areas can we  improve?                               

yes _____  no _____


1. ________________________

2. ________________________

3. ________________________


2. Are we providing the brands and lines you want and expect? If not, please list what is needed.        


yes _____  no _____


1. ________________________

2. ________________________

3. ________________________


3. Is our business clean and pleasant to be in at all times? How can we improve it?


yes _____  no _____


1. ________________________

2. ________________________

3. ________________________


4. Do you feel the business is truly a part of the community? yes _____  no _____


5. Is it a friendly place? yes _____  no _____


6. Are the prices competitive? yes _____  no _____


7. Do you feel you are getting good values? yes _____  no _____


You may want to include more specific questions, but the key is to keep the survey short and to the point. Keep it personal by preparing and signing it yourself. Leave room for written comments.


Questionnaires should not be stacked at the cash register for casual distribution. Personally present them to customers along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope.


What can you learn from this? Plenty. What can customers learn? Well, it shows you care and that is always a sales plus.


Do, Don’t Overdo

The key to effective marketing research is neither technique nor data – it’s useful information. That information must be timely; your customers’ likes and dislikes are shifting constantly. You’ll never know everything about a particular problem anyway. It’s much better to get there on time with a little, than too late with a lot. If you spend too much time gathering too much data going for a sure thing, you may find your marketing research is nothing but garbage.


How To Do Market Research?

How To Do Market Research?

You probably do some market research every day in the course of your routine management activities without being aware of it. You check returned items to see if there’s some pattern. You ask one of your old customers, who has stopped coming to your shop, why he hasn’t been in lately when you run into him on the street. You look at a competitor’s ad to see what that store is charging for the same products you’re selling. The internet brings a significant amount of secondary research as well as allowing primary research on your website. How to do market research starts with knowing your benefits to customers and then using the internet and marketing techniques to understand how the customer sees your benefits in regard to the competition.

 Marketing research simply makes this process more orderly. It provides a framework that lets you objectively judge the meaning of the information you gather about your market. The following flow chart shows the steps in the marketing research process:

  Define problem (limit and state clearly)

 Assess available information

 Assess additional information, if required:

 1.review internal records and files

 2.Interview employees

 3.Consult secondary sources of information (Internet and the library)

 4.Interview customers and suppliers

 5.Collect (or have collected) primary data


  • Organize and interpret data
  • Make decision
  • Watch the results of the decision


Defining the Problem

This, the first step of the research process, is so obvious that it is often overlooked. Yet, it is the most important step of the process.

 You must be able to see beyond the symptoms of a problem to get at the cause. Seeing the problem as a “sales decline” is not defining a cause; it’s listing a symptom.

 In defining your problem list every possible influence that may have caused it. Has there been a change in the areas your customers have traditionally come from? Have their tastes changed? Put all the possible caused down. Then set aside any that you don’t think can be measured, since you won’t be able to take any action on them.

 You must establish an idea of the problem with causes that can be objectively measured and tested. Put your idea of the causes in writing. Look at it frequently while you’re gathering your facts to keep on track, but don’t let it get in the way of facts, either. (Incidentally, while this Guide speaks of “problems,” the same techniques can be used to investigate potential opportunities too.)

 Assessing Available Information

Once you’ve formally defined your problem, you should assess your ability to solve it immediately. You may already have all the information you need to determine if your hypothesis is correct, and solutions to the problem may have become obvious in the process of defining it. Stop there. You’ll only be wasting your time and money if you do further marketing research.

 What if you aren’t sure whether or not you need additional information at this point? What if you’d feel more comfortable with additional data? Here, you’ve got to make a subjective judgment to weigh the cost of more information against its usefulness.

 You’re up against a dilemma similar to guessing in advance your return on your advertising dollar. You don’t know what return you’ll get, or even if you’ll get a return. The best you can do is ask yourself how much making a wrong decision will cost and to balance that against the cost of gathering more data to make a better informed decision.

 Gathering Additional Information

Think cheap and stay as close to home as possible. Before considering anything fancy like surveys or field experiments, look at your own records, files, and search the internet. Look at sales records, complaints, receipts, or any other records that can show you where your customers live or work or how and what they buy.

 One business owner found that addresses on cash receipts allowed the pinpointing of customers in his market area. with this kind of information he could cross reference his customers’ address and the products they purchased. From this information he was able to check the effectiveness of his advertising placement.

 Your customer’s addresses alone can tell you a lot about them. Obviously you can pretty closely guess your customers’ life-styles by knowing what the neighborhoods they live in are like. Knowing how they live can give you solid hints on what they can be expected to buy.

 Credit records are an excellent source of information about your markets, too. In addition to the always-valuable addresses of real live customers, they give you information about customers’ jobs, income levels, marital status. Granting credit, so it can be seen, is a multi-faceted marketing tool – though one with well-known costs and risks.

 When you’ve finished checking through your records, go to that other valuable internal source of customer information – your employees. Employees may be the best source of information about customer likes and dislikes. They hear customers’ minor gripes about your store or service – the ones the customers don’t think important enough to take to you owner-manager. They are also aware of the items customers request that you may not stock. Employees can probably also give you pretty good seat-of-pants customers profile from their day-to-day contacts.

 Going Outside for Marketing Research Data

Once you’ve exhausted the best sources for information about your market, your internal data, where do you go? Well, the next steps in the process are to do primary and secondary research on the outside.


Secondary research first.

Naturally, since it’s called secondary research, you do it before you undertake any primary research. Secondary research simply involves going to already published surveys, books, magazines and the like and applying or rearranging the information in them to bear on your particular problem or potential opportunity. Treat all internet data except that you collect from your website as secondary data.

 For example, say you sell tires. You might reasonably guess that sales of new cars three years ago would have a strong effect on present retail sales of tires. To test this idea you might compare new car sales of six years ago with the replacement tires sales from three years ago.

 Suppose you found that new tire sales three years ago were 10 percent of the new car sales three years previous to that. Repeating this exercise with car sales five years ago and so on, you might find that in each case tire sales were about 10 percent of the new car sales made three years before. You could logically conclude that the total market for replacement tire sales in your area this year ought to be about 10 percent of the new car sales in your locality three years ago.

 Naturally, the more localized the figures you can find the better. While, for instance, there may be a decline nationally in new housing starts, if you sell new appliances in an area where new housing is booming, you obviously would want to base your estimate of market potential on local condition. Newspapers and local radio and TV stations may be able to help you find this information.

 There are many sources of such secondary research material (while the internet is great, so information is NOT on the internet, so check other souces). You can find it in libraries, universities and colleges, trade and general business publications, and newspapers. Trade associations and government agencies are rich sources of information.


Primary research, the last step.

Primary research on the outside can be as simple as your asking customers or suppliers how they feel about your store or service firm or as complex as the surveys done by the sophisticated professional marketing research giants. It includes among its tools direct mail questionnaires, telephone or “on the street” surveys, experiments, panel studies, test marketing, behavior observation, and the like.

 Primary research is often divided into “reactive” and “nonreactive” research. The “peanut shell study” at the beginning of this Guide is an example of nonreactive primary research: it was a way of seeing how real people behaved in a real “market situation” (in this case how they moved through the store and which displays attracted their attention) without influencing that behavior even accidentally.

 Reactive research (surveys, interviews, questionnaires) is probably what most people think of when they hear the word “marketing research.” It’s the kind best left to the experts, since you may not know the right questions to ask. There’s also the danger that either people won’t want to hurt your feelings when you ask them their opinions about your business or they’ll answer questions the way they think they are “expected” to answer, rather than the way they really feel. If you feel you can’t afford high-priced marketing research services, ask nearby college or university business schools for help.


What is Marketing Research?

What is Marketing Research?

Basically, marketing research is understanding your potential and actual customers. Find out what catches customers’ attention by observing their actions and drawing conclusions from what you see. To put it more formally, in the words of the American Marketing Association, marketing research is “the systematic gathering, recording, and analyzing of data about problems relating to the marketing of goods and services.”


Marketing research is an organized way of finding objective answers to questions every business must answer to succeed. Every business owner-manager must ask:


  • Who are my customers and potential customers?
  •  What kind of people are they?
  •  Can and will they buy?
  •   Am I offering the kinds of goods or services they want – at the best place, at the best time, and in the right amounts?
  •  Are my prices consistent with what buyers view as the products’ values?
  •   Are my promotional programs working?
  •  What do customers think of my business?
  •  How does my business compare with my competitors?


Marketing research is not a perfect science; it deals with people and their constantly changing likes and dislikes which can be affected by hundreds of influences, many of which simply can’t be identified. Marketing research does, however, try to learn about markets scientifically. That simply, is to gather facts in an orderly, objective way; to find out how things are, not how you think they are or would like them to be; what people want to buy, not just what you want to sell them.


Why Do It?

It’s tough – impossible – to sell people what they don’t want. (Remember the Nehru jacket?) That’s pretty obvious. Just as obvious is the fact that nothing could be simpler than selling people what they do want. Big business has to do market research to find that out. The same reason holds for small business.


Business owners often have a “feel” for their customers – their markets – that comes from years of experience. Experience can be a two-edged sword, though, since it comprises a tremendous mass of facts acquired at random over a number of years. Information about markets gained from long experience may no longer be timely enough to base selling decisions on. In addition, some “facts” may be vague, misleading impressions or folk tales of the “everybody knows that…” variety.


Marketing research focuses and organized marketing information. It ensures that such information is timely. It provides what you need to:


  • Reduce business risks,
  •  Spot problems and potential problems in your current market,
  •   Identify and profit from sales opportunities,
  •  Get basic facts about your market to help you make better decisions and set up plans of action.


YOUR MARKETING PLAN – Turning Art into Science

Simply stated: Marketing is the process of identifying prospects and determining how best to turn them into customers. But there is nothing simple about marketing. It is at once fun and frustrating, obvious and elusive, conceptual and tactical.

And… it is bigger than many entrepreneurs realize.  It requires knowledge of history, sociology, culture, geography, and human nature, as well as competitive trends, positioning, and pricing.

We can go on at length about its inherent contradictions and challenges, but probably the most useful analogy is to think of marketing as an art form.  Learning any art is invariably a lifelong process, with no guarantees of success. So it is with marketing. But as any art is broken down into its major components, made measurable, and regularly practiced, it becomes more easily mastered.

The more involved we become with a particular art form, the more we are able to get past the mysteries that awed us as outside observers. We become aware of a particular mind-set and of patterns that help make solutions more easily identifiable. Many of our reactions become automatic; for example, a black belt in karate reacts to a punch or a kick from an opponent nearly without thinking.

Just as courses in art can help bring out the talent we may have in that field, so can similar training in marketing. It is essential if one is going to write a marketing plan and … no company can survive and grow without a written plan!

Marketing Misconceptions: The Limits of Our Understanding

An important distinction between marketing and other art forms is that many entrepreneurs who may not believe themselves to be talented in such fields as art or carpentry, or even in more familiar business areas such as financing and accounting, think of themselves as experts in marketing. Much as in politics, individuals form opinions and viewpoints concerning marketing that they feel very strongly about–typically with insufficient information or expertise.

That’s because we are constantly exposed to marketing approaches and strategies–when we walk through shopping malls, watch television commercials, stand in line at a bank, eat at a restaurant, or read direct-mail catalogs. Who among us doesn’t have a view about how a clothing store’s selection could have been made more attractive, how ads for food or beer turned us off, how a bank might speed up its lines, or how a restaurant could improve its service?

In these and dozens of other situations, we are reacting to some aspect of a company’s marketing approach. Certainly having a view about someone else’s business–even if it is based on insufficient or incorrect information–is fairly harmless.

The problem comes when you have strong views about your own business based on erroneous assumptions. Indeed, having misconceived views about your own business can be downright dangerous. You can quickly move down the wrong path and, before you have time to correct your mistakes, go out of business or suffer sever losses.

Obtaining the necessary information and coming to the correct conclusions about which marketing direction to take, however, is no easy task. It is the essence of moving marketing from the realm of art into that of science. Clearly such a move isn’t just desirable, it is essential

Income Statement Ratio Analysis

Income Statement Ratio Analysis


The Balance Sheet and the Statement of Income are essential, but they are only the starting points for successful financial management. Apply Income Statement Ratio Analysis to Financial Statements to analyze the success, failure, and progress of your business.

 Ratio Analysis enables the business owner/manager to spot trends in a business and to compare its performance and condition with the average performance of similar businesses in the same industry. To do this compare your ratios with the average of businesses similar to yours and compare your own ratios for several successive years, watching especially for any unfavorable trends that may be starting. Ratio analysis may provide the all-important early warning indications that allow you to solve your business problems before they destroy your business.

The following important State of Income Ratios measure profitability:


Gross Margin Ratio

This ratio is the percentage of sales dollars left after subtracting the cost of goods sold from net sales. It measures the percentage of sales dollars remaining (after obtaining or manufacturing the goods sold) available to pay the overhead expenses of the company.


Comparison of your business ratios to those of similar businesses will reveal the relative strengths or weaknesses in your business. The Gross Margin Ratio is calculated as follows:


                                    Gross Profit

Gross Margin Ratio = _______________

                                      Net Sales


(Gross Profit = Net Sales – Cost of Goods Sold)


Net Profit Margin Ratio

This ratio is the percentage of sales dollars left after subtracting the Cost of Goods sold and all expenses, except income taxes. It provides a good opportunity to compare your company’s “return on sales” with the performance of other companies in your industry. It is calculated before income tax because tax rates and tax liabilities vary from company to company for a wide variety of reasons, making comparisons after taxes much more difficult. The Net Profit Margin Ratio is calculated as follows:


                                         Net Profit Before Tax

Net Profit Margin Ratio = _____________________

                                                Net Sales


Management Ratios

Other important ratios, often referred to as Management Ratios, are also derived from Balance Sheet and Statement of Income information.


Inventory Turnover Ratio

This ratio reveals how well inventory is being managed. It is important because the more times inventory can be turned in a given operating cycle, the greater the profit. The Inventory Turnover Ratio is calculated as follows:


                                                      Net Sales

Inventory Turnover Ratio = ___________________________

                                            Average Inventory at Cost


Accounts Receivable Turnover Ratio

This ratio indicates how well accounts receivable are being collected. If receivables are not collected reasonably in accordance with their terms, management should rethink its collection policy. If receivables are excessively slow in being converted to cash, liquidity could be severely impaired. The Accounts Receivable Turnover Ratio is calculated as follows:


 Net Credit Sales/Year

 __________________ = Daily Credit Sales

    365 Days/Year


                                                                   Accounts Receivable

Accounts Receivable Turnover (in days) = _________________________

                                                                      Daily Credit Sales


Return on Assets Ratio

This measures how efficiently profits are being generated from the assets employed in the business when compared with the ratios of firms in a similar business. A low ratio in comparison with industry averages indicates an inefficient use of business assets. The Return on Assets Ratio is calculated as follows:


                                    Net Profit Before Tax

Return on Assets = ________________________

                                         Total Assets


Return on Investment (ROI) Ratio.

The ROI is perhaps the most important ratio of all. It is the percentage of return on funds invested in the business by its owners. In short, this ratio tells the owner whether or not all the effort put into the business has been worthwhile. If the ROI is less than the rate of return on an alternative, risk-free investment such as a bank savings account, the owner may be wiser to sell the company, put the money in such a savings instrument, and avoid the daily struggles of small business  management. The ROI is calculated as follows:


                                     Net Profit before Tax

Return on Investment = ____________________

                                            Net Worth


These Liquidity, Leverage, Profitability, and Management Ratios allow the business owner to identify trends in a business and to compare its progress with the performance of others through data published by various sources. The owner may thus determine the business’s relative strengths and weaknesses.