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Understanding the difference between features and benefits

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

The skill of turning features into benefits is regularly undervalued. Yet the impact can be transformational when it's mastered. The uncomfortable truth for many advertisers is most features are irrelevant to prospects. Unless they've been asked the "So what?" question.

This question forces you to shift your thinking from "me and my product" to "you and your problem". Features alone are only the elements or facts of your product or service. They define what you're selling rather than what it does for your prospects. On the other hand, benefits give prospects reasons to buy and answer your target's ultimate question: "What's in it for me?"

The success of your advertising largely hinges on its ability to reframe the components of what you're selling into compelling reasons to buy. To help visualise, let's take a look at the features of an umbrella:

1. Lightweight design

2. Wind-resistant frame

3. Waterproof material

4. Real wood handle

5. Quick-release button

Our challenge is to scrutinise every feature to discover the real 'hidden' benefit. In short, how your product or service can actually improve your prospects' lives. So let's ask, "So what?"

1. You can carry with you all day without strain

2. In brisk winds and strong gusts, it won't fold in on itself

3. Protects you from rain showers and blocks out harmful sun rays

4. Never unpleasant to hold even in the depths of winter

5. Erects in seconds, so you won't get caught out by a short shower again

Notice how the features are facts about the product (interesting to the advertiser). And the benefits are examples of how prospects can improve their lives or help solve their problems (interesting to the prospect).

So, say you were someone who was in the market for an umbrella. You probably have an idea of what you're looking for already, but you want to be sure you get a good deal and that it's better than your last one.

Who is the prospect more likely to listen to? The advertiser who talks about how good their product is? Or the advertiser who shows they understand their problems? There's only one winner.

The principle is 'Lead with benefits, follow with features'. Your prospect will always want to know what's in it for them first. Your features will then prove your claims and how your product or services deliver those benefits. In doing so, you'll undoubtedly increase your chances of making a sale.

Are your ads more 'me' than 'you'? Drop us a line on the contact page or email direct. We'd be more than happy to show you how to make your advertising more compelling.

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