Features vs. Benefits: The Key to Advertising

Missing Your Benefits

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Knowing how to sell your benefits is an important part of your advertising process and one of the biggest mistakes some people make when writing the copy for a leaflet is not telling the prospect the benefit they will get for buying the product or service being offered.

The problem is many marketing people and, to be fair, many copywriters, mistakenly believe features are the same as benefits.

Selling Your Benefits, Not Your Features

BenefitsHow many times have you seen a leaflet from someone telling you their product is made from the finest materials and their workmen are the most skilled craftsmen in their profession and will produce work of the highest quality?

This is something a prospect would expect from something they are going to spend their money on.

The quality of materials and the skill of a workforce are features, but they do not spell out the benefits the prospective customer will enjoy if they buy the product.

What the prospect wants to know is the old “What’s in it for me?” And only by identifying and highlighting the benefits of the product or service will answer that question.

The difference between a feature and a benefit

It can be difficult to tell the difference between the two, as many features might sound like benefits.

Features for a physical product, for example, will be its dimensions, what it is made of and what it can do. Benefits, by definition, show the result of what a product can actually accomplish for the reader.

features not benifits

You should also never confuse either a feature or a benefit with an advantage. Advantages are like the intermediary between features and benefits; they are effectively what the feature does to eventually result in a benefit.

Examples of features and benefits.

featuresThis example from the US involves a salesman selling a bike with a special saddle. He went to great lengths describing the foam inside the saddle and how comfortable it was. These were features.

The benefit was the cyclist could ride for 30 miles without getting a sore behind (the Americans said sore butt why, I don’t know, however, you get the picture.)

Another example involves the sales message selling a sleeping bag.

“Our sleeping bags have a 1-inch layer of insulation on them. This helps to retain body heat on cold nights. You’ll be warm all night. Which means that you’ll get a night of great sleep and be will be well-rested for a day of fun activities (that you’ll fully enjoy!)?”

These were great features. However, the benefits were as follows.

“While you’re camping, you’ll get a night of great sleep and be will be well-rested for a day of fun activities you’ll fully enjoy. Our 1-inch layer of insulation keeps your body warm all night so you sleep comfortably.”

How to sell your benefits

Copywriters who work in the direct mail industry have space to elaborate the benefits over features when they write their mailing letters, however, this is something denied to those of us who write copy for leaflets as we do not have the luxury of large areas of white space to list the benefits we are offering our readers.

But there is a way to incorporate features and benefits in a headline and that is the “so you can” method.

how to sell your benefitsLet’s go back to the sleeping bag message.

A brief headline for that could say…
“A full inch of insulation so you enjoy a warm night’s sleep”.

Here we have a feature and a benefit in one headline.

Another example could be for a gardening service…
“A beautiful garden without straining your back”.

These are some of the ways you can get your benefits and features in a headline without taking up too much space.

Although features are an important part of the sales message it is the benefits that really sell. A really good way to describe this succinctly is; “Sell the sizzle, not the sausage”.

Of course, not everyone can be an expert copywriter so if you need help in writing copy that will sell your benefits; why not get in touch with us and use our experience to write your compelling copy.

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