Want your brand messages to pack a punch? Then you absolutely need to know the difference between features vs. benefits and how to use them effectively.  

In this article, we’re going to explore:

  • The difference between features vs. benefits
  • The #1 mistake I see marketers make when telling people about their products and services
  • An advanced tip to help you really amp up the benefit power of your marketing copy and sales talk!

Features vs. benefits is a simple concept but I see even seasoned marketers miss the boat on it more often than you would think.

Learn to use features vs. benefits artfully and it won’t be long before you start to enjoy higher ROI on your sales letters, e-commerce product copy, and even your elevator pitch.

Ready?

Let’s start with features vs. benefits of your product or service.

What’s a feature, and what’s a benefit?

Simply put, features are the factual things about a product. A benefit is how it actually helps you.

For simplicity’s sake I’m going to use this pencil as an example first. Let’s start with some features:

  • The pencil is about 10 inches long and about a quarter inch wide.
  • It is made of wood.
  • It’s red.
  • It has smooth, shiny paint.
  • It has a #2 lead.
  • And a built-in eraser.

A features list like this gives you a clear idea of the product. Even if you couldn’t see it, I could rattle off that list and you could easily picture this pencil in your mind.

So features are great at telling people all the facts of what they’re going to get. A good features list in an ecommerce product description helps shoppers choose the exact product they need which helps prevent buyer’s remorse, so you’ll have fewer returns to deal with. That’s a good thing.

But if all you do is give the buyer features, chances are you’re going to be leaving a lot of money on the table.

Because what features don’t do well is actively tell the buyer how this product is actually going to help them.

And that’s important. Because people don’t buy products or services just to have them. People buy things to solve problems or to create enjoyment or opportunity.

And that’s where benefits come in.

So let’s go back to our previous example and look at a few of the features vs. benefits of the pencil.

FEATUREBENEFIT
#2 leadYou can write or draw with it.
10” long and ¼” wide It fits in your purse or pocket so it’s easy to carry.
Built-in eraserLets you easily correct mistakes.
Red colorIt’s easy to find on a cluttered desk.

Can you see the difference here between features vs. benefits? A feature simply describes the product. The benefit tells how it makes life better or easier for you.

So what’s better: features or benefits?

The answer is you need both.

But remember what I just said: People don’t buy things to have them. They buy to solve problems or create enjoyment or opportunity.

So which do you think speaks to this kind of transformation more effectively: features or benefits?

If you said benefits, you’re spot on!

The most common mistake I see marketers make is not giving enough emphasis to the benefits.

That’s because most people make their decisions based on emotions, not logic.

Facts, or features, speak to the logical side of the brain. Benefits, on the other hand, evoke emotion as well as logic. And emotion is what triggers a person to take action – including to buy.  

With that in mind, let’s go deeper into benefits.

In my years as a freelancer, I learned many advanced techniques from some of the most successful copywriters in the world. These tactics helped me write countless highly effective emails, landing pages, and blogs for dozens of companies from mom-and-pop organizations to Fortune 500 accounts.

I’m going to let you in on a little- known tactic that can help you really zero in on the “deep benefits” of your product or service.

These are the benefits that go beyond just surface convenience or enjoyment. They’re the benefits that really trigger your prospects’ core motivating emotions or beliefs.

The technique is called the “So What? Test”. And here’s how it works:

Let’s use the pencil as an example again.

One of its benefits is that you can use it to write or draw.  But that’s kind of a surface benefit. It empowers you to do something, but it doesn’t speak to a core desire.

So let’s say you’re selling this pencil to a busy mom. She may say, “so you can write and draw with it, so what?

And you may say to her, “kids love to write and draw, with this and a pad of paper they can entertain themselves for hours in the back seat of the car.”

And if she’s a little dense she may come back with “so what”?

And you can say, “so you can have some ‘me time’ without sitting them in front of the tube. They’ll be entertained and you’ll still be a good mom.”

See her eyes grow wide as she reaches for the pencil in your hand?

You’ve just turned this pencil in her eyes from a cheap commodity into an essential tool for personal sanity.

Now this may be a bit of a silly example but you get the picture. Keep asking “so what?” You will eventually find the deep core benefits of how your product or service can help your customer achieve the life-changing transformation they deeply desire.

And when you do, lead with these benefits!

How? Here are a few ideas to start with:

  • Use them in your headlines.
  • Craft your elevator pitch around them.
  • Create products or packages that capitalize on them.

Because these core benefits are what’s going to really get people’s attention and get them to really value what you’re selling.

And when your prospects start to truly understand the value of what you have to offer, that’s what will unlock more leads, more sales, more referral business, and a shorter sales cycle for you and your business.

👉But before you go, there’s one more thing you need to know.

There are two types of audiences that are outliers when it comes to features vs. benefits. These include Engineers (when you’re selling them technical engineering stuff) and Enthusiasts—people who are super geeks about a particular technology or hobby.

If you are marketing to these audiences you will really want to play up the features more so than the benefits.

Why?

Because both these types of audience geek out on features. They already understand at a gut level the connection between features and benefits.

So you don’t have to spell out the benefits to them like you would to most audiences.

In fact, if you do it might actually turn them off because they will think you are trying to manipulate them.

For these audiences, give them all the technical details you can throw at them. Real life case studies and testimonials work well, too.

They’ll be happy, and so will you.

Still not sure if you’re doing it right?

Your sales funnels and brand messaging are features of your business that are supposed to go hand in hand with the core benefit of having a profitable business!

Features vs. benefits is an important thing to get right to ensure your marketing copy stays profitable.

But it’s not the only thing. Every business is different, and there are many things that contribute to the performance of your marketing copy.

If you are not enjoying the kind of ROI from your content marketing you think you should be, it’s time to fix that. Schedule your discovery call with us today!