Writing Good Content: Benefits Vs. Features

The Smarter Message for Better Business and SalesHow do you capture the attention and imagination of your target audience? What tools do you use to persuade, once you’ve made contact? Here’s one that’s sure to help: explain the benefits of your offering. So basic—yet benefits often get overlooked or delivered in an unclear way. Emphasize the benefits to reach, connect and sell.


A Focus On Benefits = A Focus on Your Customers

I’ve written about the importance of customer-centric content before. (See Writing Good Content: Keep The Focus On Your Customer.) The Benefits vs. Features discussion helps to illustrate customer-centric and company-centric copy.

When we focus on benefits, we address our customers’ interests, hopes, fears, needs and desires. When we focus on features, generally our message shifts to products, services and aspects of our company—to things. If we talk too much about features, we can end up signalling to prospects and customers that we care more about ourselves than about them.

Yes, buyers need to know details about the products or services we offer. And how we’re uniquely qualified to help them. But choose the times (and places) for that messaging wisely. Because, no matter what, buyers are more interested in themselves than in us. And, they think we should be, too.


The Difference Between Benefits & Features

Use benefits to describe the value and advantages that you can deliver to buyers. Benefits are about state of mind, body and life. For instance, because of what you do, customers may:

  • Save money, time or effort
  • Get a task done quickly, easily, conveniently
  • Become happier
  • Earn more (and be able to do more)
  • Enjoy life on their terms
  • Spend added time with loved ones
  • Invest with confidence
  • Love going to work
  • Feel relieved
  • Stop worrying
  • Have a great time

Use features to describe things you offer. Features are the details that flesh out what you’re selling so buyers get the facts and can believe they’re in the right place. Here are some examples of features:

  • Waterproof
  • Fast-acting
  • Web-enabled
  • Clear, colorful LCD screen
  • Constructed from tough aluminum tubing
  • 4 high-speed USB ports
  • 3 bed, 2.5 bath
  • All-wheel drive
  • An 18-page special report on banking
  • An industry leader since 1958

See why benefits are more customer-centric? They get to the heart of matters for your target audience. That’s always a good thing when your goal is to sell or build brand awareness.

Benefits and features are both important. But they serve different purposes for visitors.

Here’s another example of the difference:

I walk into a store needing a gift for a good friend. As usual, I’ve waited till the last minute. The service rep shows me an item. I think it might be perfect.

I look over the item’s features to reinforce my impression that it’s a good choice. I decide it is. But the major reason for my decision to buy (and to return to this store in the future) is probably certain benefits:

I’m really not looking forward to running from place to place for a present. This will save me hours of time and work.

My friend’s going to love this. I’m happy.

Awesome—I can scratch this chore off my list and relax!

The next time I need a gift, I don’t even need to think twice—I’m coming here!

On its site, this store should highlight these and doubtless other benefits that have an emotional appeal to shoppers.


Keep The Benefits Of Benefits Straight!

Features inform. Benefits convince. They work together.

In some cases, features can also aid selling because they may excite, enthuse and move readers toward the decision to buy. (These readers most likely are already motivated to purchase.)

If possible, include both benefits and features on your site, in your email marketing campaign piece, or your web or print ad.

Just be sure to bear in mind the emotional power of benefits and the best places to showcase them when you’re reaching out.


Contact Liz Manning at liz@thesmartermessage.com.