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Focus on Benefits, But Don’t Forget Features

July 20, 2015

Focus on Benefits, But Don’t Forget Features

If you’ve studied copywriting or marketing in any respect, you’ve heard the phrase “focus on the benefits, not the features.” 

While the benefits of your product or service can have a huge positive effect on the success of any marketing campaign, it’s important not to forget about the immense effects that a product or service’s features can also have. 

Benefits are crucial – no doubt about it. Your prospects will only sign on the dotted line once they’ve understood how your products or services can benefit them. But the details and features of your product or service are important, too. 

Perhaps a better way to express this fundamental rule of marketing is this: 

Focus on whatever is important to your prospects. 

If you think the nuts and bolts of your product will help sell it, by all means include them in your message. Just don’t forget to relate each feature of your product to a clear and relevant benefit. 

Sometimes, you need to mention a feature to justify a benefit. For example, let’s say a real estate company has a new, state-of-the-art computer database that speeds up the home search process for their clients. 

This is an important feature with a serious benefit: it clearly speeds up the process of finding a home. Since the feature is integral to the benefit, listing the benefit – in this case, a faster home search – without mentioning the feature just doesn’t work. 

It’s important to strike a balance between focusing exclusively on a feature versus listing a feature for the purpose of explaining a benefit. The former is dull to all but the most technically minded of prospects, while the other is easy to relate to.

The computer database could be advertised in two different ways: 

“Our powerful new database improves efficiency twofold over previous versions.” 

OR

“Our powerful new database helps you locate a home in just minutes online.” 

Now that is a benefit. While the first example lists the feature and provides a rather lukewarm benefit, it doesn’t help the customer. How does the customer benefit from a more efficient search? Why should they care about the database’s faster speed? 

The second example offers a clear benefit – the ability to find a home in just minutes online – and explains how the benefit is possible. It mentions the feature to support the benefit, making it far more powerful. 

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: the more technical your audience, the more you can incorporate features into your marketing. A person shopping for a home isn’t likely to care about nuts and bolts, but a scientists cares about the features of a new tool.

Instead of focusing purely on benefits, as the old marketing maxim states, use our revised maxim to guide your marketing in the right direction: 

Focus on whatever is important to your prospects.

It will vary from one audience to another, but you had better find out what it is… and give it to them in spades!