Copywriting: Features and benefits – the crucial difference

Whether you’re the seller or the copywriter, your aim is to compel your reader into a desired action, such as buy your product, without making them work hard doing so.

If you write in features, you’re asking your customers to work hard. You’re asking them to imagine how the features you list will make their lives better. You leave a gap between your product and their lives and ask them to fill it in.

Most won’t want do this. As a result they’re less likely to be compelled into the action you want from them.

If you write in benefits, you make it easy for your customers. You’re selling them the image of their improved lives with the gaps already filled in. They don’t need work to imagine that life – all that’s left is for them to agree to the action you want from them.

Benefits make it more likely that you’ll compel them into your desired action.

+ So what are features and benefits?

Here are two useful phrases to keep in mind when it comes to features and benefits:

• Features tell – Benefits sell

• Our features – Your benefits

Features list what the company has. They’re like the company doing a show-and-tell, “here are all the things we have, aren’t they great?” Well yes, sure, that’s great for you, but what about your customers?

Benefits tell the customer simply and directly how your product or service can make their lives better. “This is what’s on offer for you.” Benefits sell by painting a picture of your customer’s improved lives with your product in it.

+ How-to spot a feature

If you have written the following words often in your copy, it’s likely you have written in features and not benefits: We, us, our, my and your name.  Don’t ‘wee’ on people! Your copy should be from you but not about you; your copy should be about your customer.

The key is striking the right balance, as writing features is still necessary sometimes. A good guide is to aim use ‘you’ around three or four times as often as ‘we’.

Turning features into benefits

A simple trick can turn a list of features into a list of benefits.

• Write the feature down

• Write “which means that”

• Write down why this feature would be important to the customer. This is your benefit.

Or ask the question “so what?” about each benefit. Imagine yourself a potential customer reading your copy. Do you have to work hard to understand why you’d benefit from buying that product? If so, go back through and change the features into benefits!

Writing benefits takes practice, but doing so will be worth its weight in gold to you – and that’s just the first of the benefits!

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