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Benefits vs Features

Benefits vs Features

I recently bought a new camper.

My wife and I enjoy weekend camping and our current camper wasn’t meeting our needs anymore.

So I started the search for one that we would enjoy more. Since there are about a million different kinds of campers, I had to narrow the search.

Most websites allowed you to search by make, model, length, price, new or used…things like that. But I had no idea what make or model I wanted and I didn’t know what length would be best.

Basically, they were giving me features to choose from, not benefits. We wanted a camper that

  • Was easy to keep clean on the outside
  • had a bedroom you actually had room to change your clothes in
  • provided a comfortable interior living space (for those rainy days)
  • was a breeze to set up

None of those “search features” listed on the websites addressed our needs. But once I spoke with a salesman and explained what “benefits” we were interested in, he was able to point us to a few units that would be a good fit.

Regardless of the industry that you are in, your customers only care about the benefits of your product or service, not just what your product or service does.

Here’s an example:

If you sell clock radios, which list do you think would be more appealing to your customer?

LIST 1 LIST 2
10 station presets Custom set your own channels
2 alarm timers for weekday/weekend Never oversleep with 2 alarms
Sleep timer Need 10 more minutes? Hit the snooze
Includes AC power adapter If the power goes out, the alarm still works on batteries
DSP tuner What’s that?

People don’t want to buy clock radios, they want to wake up on time! You have to answer the “What’s in it for me?” question for your customers.

One report has infomercials reaching over 250 billion in 2015. Why are these so successful? Infomercials are largely benefit driven.

Proactiv – See how good this product can make your skin look

P90X – Anyone can get fit and look great from home

Snuggie – Staying warm is easier than other methods

In all of these pitches, the company shows you how using their product will benefit you. They offer solutions to problems.

Apple didn’t tout their mobile music storage device as having 1GB for your MP3’s. They simply stated that with the iPod you could have 1,000 songs in your pocket. Now that made sense to customers.

So how can your company switch from features to benefits?

First of all, go ahead and list all of your features…every one. Then you need to ask “Why?” for every one of those features. Why is it part of your product? Why do customers want it? Why should you keep it/discontinue it?

As difficult as it can be (since you are so entrenched in your offering) try and look at it from a customer’s point of view.

  • What will this product do for me?
  • Why should I buy it from this company, since others offer a similar service?
  • What solution is this solving for me?
  • I already have this product. How difficult would it be to switch to this new company?
  • What benefits are missing from this company’s product?

Turn those features into “marketing benefits” that you can use when you talk about your company. Describe those benefits when you write about it on your website or other marketing material.

Let’s go back to our camper and compare how the benefits we wanted were actually features. They just weren’t marketed as benefits.

Benefits we wanted

Corresponding feature

Easy to keep clean Fiberglass exterior
Bedroom you can change clothes in Larger space or slide out
Comfortable living space Couches and recliners, not bunk beds
Easy/quick set up Power awning, jacks and tongue

Work on your company’s features and make them more customer-benefit-friendly. It just takes a little retooling of your descriptions and presentation.

There is a place and time for features…but it is not the first thing potential customers or investors want to see. If you can get customers to buy from you instead of you selling to them…those are great customers.

So go market a benefit!

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About Brian Richardson

Entrepreneur, father, grandfather, Christian, start-up fanatic