One of the lessons I continually repeat in my Copywriting classes is “When it comes to content, benefits, not features.” And with good reason!
It sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Yet, why are so many businesses continuing to do it wrong?
It’s one of the fundamental rules all copywriters and content creators must do right if they truly want to engage their audiences, however it remains as a persistent pitfall, continually tripping up many organisations!
Here’s how to ensure that your content is connecting with customers by focusing on the real benefits of your products or services that you’re writing about, and not the features.
Good copywriting draws your audience in by offering value, and in exchange, they offer you a piece of their precious time. It’s as simple as that.
One of the most essential rules of writing this compelling copy is to always be stressing benefits, not features. I say it over and over, time and time again to the point that my students can’t stand to hear it!
There are many business owners and Marketing teams who all continue to be confused by the whole ‘features vs benefits’ dilemma, and it’s one of the reasons why content and marketing efforts fail.
What’s the difference?
Features are the factors and characteristics of your product offering, while a benefit is the advantage that the feature offers a customer that they actually want. I was always told by my Lecturers at University: “sell the hole, not the drill”. As odd (and funny) as that sounds, it has always stuck with me, and it illustrates the rule well.
Here are a couple of examples:
(1) For a Real Estate agent, the signboard is a feature of the service. Selling the home, stress free, for an excellent result is the benefit.
(2) A Dentist using the latest technology and equipment is a feature. A healthy smile and bright teeth which builds a person’s confidence is a benefit.
(3) A Smartphone’s camera pixel rating is a feature. Taking high res photos of good times with friends is a benefit.
(4) Expensive night cream with Vitamins A and E are features. Having glowing, radiant skin every morning is the benefit.
Are you starting to see the difference? You probably noticed that you connected better with the second part of each of those examples, than you did with the first. Why is that? Because benefits are what people most care about as it’s the summary of what’s really in it for them.
Benefits are Features Translated Into Relevant Customer Value
While people do pay attention to features, they’re a means to an end benefit. Focusing your copywriting and marketing on those overarching advantages will mean that the message you are conveying to your audience is one they actually care about.
Why do people book a holiday in, say, Italy? It’s not so they can catch Qantas QFF754 to fly from Sydney to Rome (feature), and then take a taxi from the airport to the hotel (feature), and book in five nights (feature)- it’s REALLY for freedom (benefit), experience (benefit) and a break from normal life (benefit). Benefits are why people spend money. Benefits are why people give you their time.
What’s The Issue Then? You Don’t Know The Real Benefit!
The concept of highlighting benefits over features seems simple enough, but it’s far more complicated in practise, and what ends up happening is that the copywriter misinterprets the whole situation. In other words, they break the most fundamental rule in existence: knowing your audience.
A good test is to ask yourself: does my writing convey the benefit that will make my target customer think to themselves: “you know what, that IS missing from my life. Here’s my time and money.”?
So, does it?
A trap that often occurs is that your content conveys ‘secondary’ benefits. In other words, you identified the features and took a step forward to translate what it actually offers the customer, but didn’t go far enough.
For example, take a home cleaning service. The features are the person, their tools of trade, their customer service and so on. Therefore, as an advert writer, it may be tempting to say ‘get a sparkling clean house, without the hassle’. But in essence, is that really the true benefit? Have we taken it far enough? Does our customer say, “I will hire that person because I want my cleaning to be hassle free”?
No. They wake up on a Saturday, and say to themselves, “I get two precious days off a week that I have to cram my whole life into. I’d rather go out and see that Titanic Exhibit, or visit my parents, or work on my personal hobby/project that is a better use of my limited time. I don’t have a spare couple of hours to clean up my house before Monday gets here again.”
The real benefit is freedom from responsibilities. It’s about giving them an easy solution to the opportunity cost conundrum that they wrestle with each and every weekend. The message should be: Cleaning is not your priority. Life is. So go out and enjoy your weekend, and leave your cleaning responsibilities to the professionals who will have it all done by the time you get back from what matters most to you.
See the difference? If you want your audience’s attention, get to the heart and soul of what they really want. Tap into their emotions and give them what they want on that level. Take a few steps back and put yourself in their shoes, THEN write, and not the other way around.
How To Find The Real Benefit To Write About: Five Steps
Here are the five steps to successfully focusing on the right benefits.
Humans Are Humans
As people, benefits connect with us and compel us to action, because we’re human. We are not always as logical as we would like to believe. We can be irrational at times, and we make decisions based on deeply ingrained emotional motivations, then afterwards we blend it with logic and facts to rationalise our initial response. Benefits show us what’s truly in it for us because it solves a core need, which is why we respond best to content that caters to this.
That’s not to say that features don’t have their place! After all, Business customers (B2B) are often mainly concerned with features, because it’s more about the bottom line, but in the end, they’re always run by people, and people have emotional needs. The need to prove they deserve that management position, or the need to be respected by peers by making the right purchasing decision.
In the end, make sure that your copywriting is converting with benefits and supporting with features in order to create that conversion response.
How Can Melotti Media Help You?
At Melotti Media, we understand that high quality copywriting is essential for business success, but it is easier said than done. You’re time poor and spread thin, and writing isn’t your expertise. So focus on what really matters, while we take care of all of your copywriting and marketing needs.
If you need further clarification about Benefits vs Features, or you need a quality copywriter to get the results you need from your content, contact me now at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or leave a comment, below.
I can sharpen your words to achieve your goals, today!
Melotti Media Copywriting and Marketing Solutions