Create More Compelling Copy by Going Beyond Features and Benefits

You've heard many times how important it is to sell the benefits of your product instead of just listing its features. This is incredibly important advice – the key, really, to a successful copywriting career. But many beginning copywriters have difficulty distinguishing between benefits and features.

Basically, a feature is something the product is or contains. And a benefit is what the product does. Michael Masterson teaches us to go beyond features and benefits and include what he calls the "deeper benefit," which is how the product can change the prospect's life.

For example, let's say you're selling a car. This car has 750 horsepower and accelerates from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds. These are features.

If you're selling the car to a woman, you could turn these features into a benefit by telling her that because of the car's power and acceleration, she'll be able to merge onto the freeway quickly.

But then you go one step further. Seeing that she has a baby seat in her car, you tell her that because she'll be able to merge onto the freeway quickly, she won't have to worry about her children being crushed by a huge semi bearing down on her. This is the deeper benefit: It will change her life by giving her peace of mind.

If, on the other hand, you're selling the car to a man, you could turn those same features into a different sort of benefit by accentuating the visceral power, manliness, and sexiness of the car. For him, the deeper benefit may be that this car will make him the envy of all his male friends. And, depending on whether or not you see a wedding ring on his finger, you might add that it will attract the attention of many beautiful women.

Here's another example. You're writing copy about a Macintosh G5. It features dual 2-megahertz G5 processors and a 512K back-end cache. Because the computer is faster than anything else your customer can buy, the benefit is that he'll get his work done faster and be more productive. And the ultimate, life-changing benefit is that he'll make more money because he'll be working faster and more efficiently … he'll be able to spend more time on his family and hobbies … and his friends and associates will be envious.

Features are easy to find. Your client's product manager will be glad to tell you about them or send you product specifications.

Benefits are a bit harder to determine. To come up with them, you'll have to do benefit-oriented research that might involve:

  • in-depth discussions with the product manager
  • interviews with users of the product
  • Internet research
  • using/studying the product yourself

Deeper benefits come from that marvelous part of your mind called your imagination. Start your quest for deeper benefits by understanding your prospect completely. Pinpoint all the emotions you'll appeal to in your sale as part of this process. Then put yourself in your prospect's place. Imagine how she'll feel using your product and benefiting from its features. How will her life change? How will her self-image change? How will other people's image of her change?

Once you've identified the features, benefits, and deeper benefits of your product, how do you decide which ones to actually put in your copy?

That, of course, is your creative challenge.

In general, the more features, benefits, and deeper benefits you include in your copy, the richer and more appealing it will be – and the better your chances will be of creating a winning promotion.

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Average: 4.9
Published: May 3, 2004

5 Responses to “Create More Compelling Copy by Going Beyond Features and Benefits”

  1. Thank you AWAI for bringing us these great points and helping us become better copywriters.

    TimothySeptember 7, 2009 at 6:18 am

  2. This article gives me a better understanding of the difference between features, benefits, and the "deeper benefit". However in practice I still found it difficult to come up with the "deeper benefit". After re-reading the article, it becomes apparent that I have to analyze my prospect and determine what my prospects deeper selling emotions are and then become the prospect. Once I understood this it helped me to determine the deeper benefits.

    Bob SpinazzolaJuly 23, 2010 at 12:43 pm

  3. These are great tip especially for a beginner like me.

    G loveMarch 18, 2013 at 12:35 am

  4. I like the fact that this type of copywriting requires and expresses a deep and genuine caring for our clients customers and therefore also for our clients.

    It feels good to do good; the world badly needs more of this.

    JoylerJuly 18, 2013 at 6:37 pm

  5. One thing is clear that to determine the deeper benefit or benefits, one must the target prospect. Only then the core emotion and deeper benefit be established.
    One feature may have different deeper benefit for different audience.
    A good sales letter should show all the deeper benefits to each and every prospect.
    Am I right or misunderstood the concept? Please, let me know.

    Nusrat August 21, 2017 at 8:22 pm


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