Before you start writing your ads or sales copy, whether it is for your own product or your client’s product, there’s no escaping the research part of it.
Yes, a big part of copywriting success lies in the research.
In this article, we tackle the inevitable question of knowing what you are selling – is it the features or is it the benefits?
While product owner understands the features of his products, marketers understand that benefits sell better than features.
However, is it really everything?
Before we dive further into the topic, let’s start with understanding what are the difference between Features and Benefits.
A feature is what something is. A benefit is why it matters.
Take a look at my Pirate’s hat.
What can you tell from it?
At first glance, it is red.
It has a nice logo.
It is made of leather.
Now, take a deeper look.
What can you do with this hat?
The red is striking – you can see me coming from far away.
The logo represents my company – when people see the logo, they know its the Pirate with Pen.
What about the leather? It is super durable, water-proof even.
Often time, product owner tends to focus on the creation process and what their product can do, the facts.
Your customer doesn’t care.
You see, what you think they need (features) might not always be what they want.
What you think will benefit them might not even be the ultimate trigger point.
For example, you can sell me a red hat with a cool logo that is made of leather.
Yes, it can attract attention and make my brand easily recognizable.
The ultimate reason I need a hat is to protect myself from the extreme weather.
Each of the features and benefits only serves to support the end result.
Customers only buy what they want, and that has everything to do with the results they get in return.
Very often we got lost in what our products can do but we forgot to think about what it can do FOR THEM.
And that is the last element of the Features, Benefits, and Results sales process.
The feature-driven approach is effective during the good times or when your brand awareness is at the highest level. E.g. Apple’s iPhone.
For the rest of us, simply showcasing the features are not enough to sell, and that is why we need the benefits. Benefits are about speaking the customer’s language and help them understand what the features do.
But as the competition in each industry gets harder, telling features and selling benefits might not be as effective anymore. You lack the one element to push the customer over, and that is results.
And that is what many new copywriters often miss.
They put too much focus in trying to sell the product and the process, but that’s not what your customers want.
They only want the result.
So, sell the result, not the product.
Sell the want, not the pain.
If you are stuck trying to figure out what result you’d be able to sell, try thinking from your customers’ perspective:
What’s in it for me?
Let’s say you are a copywriter working with local businesses.
You can easily meet up with your client to interview them.
You have an advantage of understanding the local audience.
And so, you can write a better copy.
While these are benefits, they are not enough to tip the scale to your favor.
There are so many copywriters out there, so, what else?
Ask from your client’s perspective: what’s in it for me?
Why would they pay for your service?
What do they get out of all the benefits you just described?
You see, clients care about the result and not the features and benefits.
That’s what they are willing to pay for.
So think again, what’s in it for the client that you are a local copywriter, can easily meet with the client, and have an advantage of understanding local audience?
To help your client make more money!
And that’s the only valid reason in their right mind to want to pay you.
Customers only care about themselves.
Not you, not your company, certainly not your product.
A result is what the client gets.
So when you are selling, think of the results that you can make it happen for them:
- Make more money
- Save more money
- Save time
- More productive
- Reach the goal quicker
- Accelerate progress
- Increase frequency
- Enjoy more
Notice that everything about the result is either about something more or something less.
Now, while we have established the clear fact that a customer buys the result and not the product, we are not discarding features and benefits altogether.
Features are facts about your product.
It shows what it is and what it does.
And that is generally the easy part.
If your target audience is of a high-level awareness <more on next lesson>, that means they already know your brand, your product, and your company.
Features are often the only thing needed to sell because the benefits are self-explanatory.
Let’s take Apple’s iPhone X for example.
It doesn’t tell you how the camera improves your life.
But on their website, it only tells you the features and more features of the improved cameras.
But Apple fans still can’t wait to whip out their credit card whenever Apple announces a new model.
Because for one, there’s only so much a smartphone can do for you.
Phone calls, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook, Camera…
You already know what you can get out of a smartphone, so is there really a need to emphasize that iPhone X allows you to make phone calls whenever you need as compared to a traditional phone?
Secondly, in the business of consumer devices, the key difference, apart from the brand, is the technical specifications.
Screen size, processors, RAM, storage and so on.
These are all features, and there’s really no need to tell you that an improved camera saves you 3x the time compared to the need of taking photos with DSLR and editing with Photoshop before you upload it on Facebook.
Another feature-driven industry is the automobiles industry.
While each car manufacturers and models have many different kinds of features such as driver-lane assist, <elaborate>, there is no need to reemphasize how it can improve your life because it is already obvious.
Being an expensive product, what boils down at the end is often the brand that comes with it and not so much on how the product can improve your life much better than any other brand.
While there are industries like the consumer electronics and automobiles that sell on features, the truth is that we are not those brands.
And for the rest of us, the cold hard truth is that the customers don’t care about what your product can do… they care about what it can do FOR THEM.
And when they buy, they only buy out of these 3 buying motivation: Fear, Needs, and Greed.
Which is why we have to rely on the benefits to emphasize the results.
So the problem isn’t whether you know what are the features of your product and what are the benefits.
It is when you can’t connect the features to the benefits and results to create the emotional need of wanting your product and service.
To avoid fear (pain, problem), meet the needs, or satisfy the greed.
The good news is, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
How to transform Features and Benefits into Results
Every feature comes with at least one benefits for the customers.
And the first thing you can do is to list out all the features.
Then, think of the benefits these features can provide to your customers.
Finally, think about what results these features and benefits will bring for the customers.
Is it more money or save cost? More free time and less time wasted?
When writing your copy, always remember to sell the result and not the product.
Use the features and benefits as support, and sell the result so that they can visualize what they actually get.
With a little bit of practice, you will better understand how to connect features and benefits, and in turn, understand the emotions behind your customers so that they rush towards you with their credit card in hand.