There was a time in my life where I spent 0% of my days researching skincare.
Alas, I am not as young as I used to be.
So now, I spend a significantly larger amount of my free time looking up serums and toners, moisturizers and creams, in an effort to stave off the irrevocable vestiges of time marching across my face.
The other day, during one of my research seshes, I came across this product description:
Are your eyes glazing over yet? Do you have any idea what this product is supposed to do for you other than the vague “target multiple signs of aging at once?” Because I sure don’t.
Are we talking wrinkles? Hyperpigmentation? Dullness? Dryness? Dark circles?
This copy is suffering from a classic case of all features, no benefits.
What is a Feature?
A feature is something the product has or does. These could include:
- the materials a product is made from
- scent or flavor notes
- technical features or specs like battery life
- vitamins or nutrients
- all the pieces included in the package
Examples of Features
- 100% cotton
- scents of vanilla, orange, and eucalyptus
- Intel Core i7 processor
- 86% of your daily vitamin C
- Comes with carrying case and two AA batteries
Sometimes you’ll see a product description that’s simply a laundry list of features. This is probably not doing the product any favors.
Good sales copy combines features with their associated benefits.
What is a Benefit?
A benefit is how the product creates change in the customer’s life. It may be the solution to a problem, or it may be an enhancement that makes the customer feel a certain way.
Unlike features, benefits paint a picture for the reader. They go beyond product specs and illustrate a gain to the potential customer.
Examples of Benefits
- Increased sales
- Accomplish more in less time
- Better health or more energy
- Save money
- Improved appearance
Connecting the Two
Sometimes, you’ll see marketers say things like “focus on benefits, not features.”
I say not so fast.
It’s not that benefits are better or more important than features. It’s that you need to help your potential customer understand how the features lead to a benefit. They’re two parts of the same shiny coin.
Here’s how to connect them.
Start by listing allllll of your product features. (Look at the list above under “What is a Feature” for inspiration and ideas.)
Even if it’s something small, write it down.
Now, next to each feature, add all the possible benefits of each. Go nuts. This is a brainstorming exercise.
Let’s say you’re a candle company that uses soy wax. Here are some benefits to that material:
- Renewable resource (soybeans)
- Low melting point (so they burn longer)
If I’m the average consumer, I may not understand why soy wax is better than paraffin wax. So instead of just saying, “Made with soy wax,” you can use the benefits to educate me on why this is attractive.
“Made from soy wax” becomes “Made from renewable, biodegradable soy wax, our candles have a low melting point for a longer burn time.”
Here are some more possible feature/benefit combos.
Soft and breathable
Scents of vanilla, orange, and eucalyptus
Make your home smell like a spa
Intel Core i7 processor
Play computer games with no lag
86% of your daily vitamin C
Improve iron absorption*
Comes with carrying case and two AA batteries
Hard case protects item on-the-go
*Note – be careful when making health claims or you can get into trouble
Remember—it’s not features vs benefits. It’s features AND benefits.
Where it Gets Tricky…
For some products, it’s easy to connect your features to benefits. A top-of-the-line computer processor gives you a faster machine so you can get your work done more quickly or play your favorite computer game with no lag. Easy peasy.
For others, it’s more complicated. What are the compelling benefits of a luxury good, for example, like nice clothing, a maternity photo shoot, or a fancy-pants rug?
These items don’t really solve a clear problem.
But they may fulfill a desire or need. You just have to figure out what it is.
For the maternity photo shoot, the need is to capture the feelings of those “in-between” months—after someone becomes pregnant but before they’re thrust into the bleary-eyed days of new parenthood.
For that fancy-pants rug, maybe the need is to make a statement, or maybe it’s to show off your sense of style. It is not simply to cover that big empty patch of floor. Any old rug from the second-hand store can do that.
Part of identifying this need is understanding your audience. When you know exactly who is reading, you’ll have a much better idea of their needs and desires.
Turn Your Features Into Benefits
Homework time, baby.
Head to your website. Read through your sales copy and look at your features. Are they connected to compelling benefits that will get your prospective customer pumped up?
If not, it’s time to give those descriptions a spit shine. Add some real benefits to your copy that will show the customer how the product can solve a problem or fulfill a need or desire.
Then track your sales over the next few weeks to see if you’ve chosen a compelling message for your target market.