Increasing Impact with Features and Benefits

Bike Features & Benefits

Click the image to enlarge. Source: lunchbreath

Companies can increase the impact of their marketing and sales by understanding the difference between “features” and “benefits.”  First, let me explain what I mean by these terms; then I’ll show you why it’s a powerful concept.

Features” describe the product or service and what it does.  For example:

  • Diet Coke has 0 calories
  • The new iPad has a retina display
  • Our movers pack your belongings carefully

Benefits” show which of the customer’s needs will be met.  For example:

  • Lose weight by switching to Diet Coke
  • Movies look more lifelike on the new iPad
  • Your stuff won’t break during the move

Benefits are much more powerful, because they tell the customer exactly why it matters.  The benefit answers the “so what?”  It speaks in the customer’s language, rather than in your language.  So it motivates them more strongly to buy.

Sometimes you might think, “Well the benefit is obvious!”  True, people can connect the dots–0 calories means it’s better for my diet.  However, you have your customer’s attention for a very brief time.  Don’t make them do this extra work!  Connect the dots for them, so they are sure to see the benefit of what you’re offering.

A problem I see very often comes because people are such experts in their field.  They understand so intuitively the relationship between feature & benefit, that they forget that it is less clear to a customer.  To a car dealer, the benefit of the 3 liter engine vs the 2 liter engine is obvious.  He often forgets to tell the customer, “It’s more fun to drive!”  A camping store saleswoman loves the waterproof boots.  Did she mention that “your feet stay dry and warm”?

Service businesses have features & benefits too.  Can you think of the benefits for these features?

  • Our flight attendants are fun and friendly.
  • Our doctors went to top medical schools.
  • Our dry cleaning is done on site.

Action Plan

1Look at your marketing materials (website, brochures, etc.) and the way you and your team talk to customers.  Identify which of the statements are about features, and try to rewrite them in a way that emphasizes the benefit.

2Organize your thinking for each of your products or services.  Use the simple two-column format below.  Each feature should have one or more benefits.  First write down everything you can think of.  Then come back and circle the three most important benefits.  This is the place to focus your marketing and sales messages!

FEATURES
  • 3 liter engine
  • Side-impact air bags
  • GPS
  • 30 miles per gallon
BENEFITS
  • More fun to drive
  • Protects your family in a crash
  • Never get lost
  • Spend less money on gas

What do you think?

Let me know what you are going to do to focus more on benefits. Post your thoughts and plans as a reply below!

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