Far too often, I see sales material that focuses almost exclusively on the features of a product, with very little thought about the benefits these features provide the end-user. This is a much bigger deal than one might realize at first. It’s not really shocking though, as it can be easy to confuse features & benefits.
So before we dive into the whole “feature vs. benefits” debate and discuss when and how to use each, let’s take a quick look at the definition of each.
Features: Features are what your product or service does, how powerful it is, what functionality it provides. A product’s or service’s features are created by design to add value to whatever it is a business is selling.
Benefits: Benefits are what the end-user experiences as a result of using your product or service. These benefits are actually what your buyer is after–the features your product or service include are the means to an end to get there.
Feature Marketing Usually isn’t Compelling Enough on its Own
It’s easy for product creators, service providers, and marketers to forget that the features their product or service provides may not clearly translate into the benefit a potential customer will receive after purchasing. You may know why feature X will make your ideal buyer’s life easier/better/etc., but they might not immediately be aware of this… which is why telling them how the features will benefit them is crucial.
Your user doesn’t care how many hours it took to develop a feature, how much love, sweat & tears went into crafting it. They care about themselves, and what the feature does for them.
It’s better to show your potential customer why your product or service will benefit them, instead of just telling them what features your product or service has. There’s no emotion behind a list of cold, hard features… and purchases are often based on emotion.
Fortunately, any feature can be translated into one or more benefits. Here’s a few quick examples:
Air bags in a car are a feature. Keeping your family safer in the event of a collision is a benefit.
A litterbox with an automatic scoop is a feature. Not having to constantly clean up after your cat (and easier cleaning when it’s time) is a benefit.
A hood on a jacket is a feature. Keeping your head, neck and ears warm on a freezing night without having to keep up with a hat or scarf is a benefit.
The best way to create a list of benefits your product or service provides is by going through each feature and listing the benefit this feature provides. Oftentimes a feature can produce several benefits, so ideally you’ll have a nice list of benefits to choose from as you craft your sales messages.
You Should Use Features to Back Up Your Benefits
Sometimes telling a potential buyer about the benefits of your product without any tangible information as to why your product produces these benefits will result in a pitch that isn’t compelling enough to convert them into a buyer.
Saying “With our XYZ Headphones, you’ll hear your music more clearly than ever before” is a pretty vague statement. Why will they hear more clearly? In cases like this, it’s important to combine the feature & benefit together into a clear picture to make your case. For example:
“Thanks to our brand-new sonic-senso-matic real-time sound adjustment engine, our XYZ Headphones are able to efficiently produce clearer, crisper sounds across the entire audible wave spectrum–which means your music will sound more clear and vibrant than you’ve ever imagined.”
See how much better that sounds? Without the feature, the benefit is vague. Conversely, if you just tell your prospect that your headphones feature your new patented “sonic-senso-matic real-time sound adjustment engine**,” no one is going to have any idea what that means… which doesn’t create a very compelling case to purchase, no matter how fancy & advanced the technology may be.
(**I don’t think that’s a real thing, so if you decide to invent it after reading this post, I want a cut.)
Features are Still Essential
Unique features can distinguish your product or service from competitors. If you sell a product or service that is similar to competitors, and these products or services offer similar benefits, having more or better features can tip the scales in your favor, so be sure to outline and explain them.
An example is tablets. Pretty much all tablets on the market provide the same benefits to users: the ability to browse the web, read books, check emails, etc. without needing to carry around a clunky laptop. In situations like this, people will often compare features & price to determine which product their going to purchase.
Your Benefits Should Resonate With Your Ideal Customer
If you know who your ideal customer is (and you should… if you don’t, be sure to check out The Customer Avatar Blueprint) then you’ll know what pain points & challenges your product or service best solves. Keep this in mind as you go through your list of benefits and ask yourself, “Does this benefit directly connect with my ideal buyer?”
Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and tell a story that helps drive the benefits of your product home and convinces them to purchase.
Look through your current sales materials (your website, your ads, your marketing emails, etc.) and look at where you describe the features of your product(s) and/or service(s). Do you outline the compelling benefits of these features? If not, take the time to sit down and figure out the benefits that would have the most impact on your ideal buyer and rework the copy to include these benefits.
If you have multiple ideal customer avatars (which is very likely), consider how features may benefit each ideal buyer differently, and craft & target your benefits accordingly to maximize conversions.
It may take a bit of time and effort, but the effort is well worth the payoff.