Selling More Than Just Features and Benefits

Welcome back! I hope you had a great week.

I’ve been busy trying to finish up a project I’m working on. It’s an interesting job and I’ll tell you a bit about it because it’s going to lead us into the next topic we’ll be talking about, which is … constructing web copy.

I’m only providing the copy for this particular job, which is just the way I like it. My client is doing the web design and putting together the Internet marketing initiatives, something that they happen to be extremely knowledgeable about and very good at.

My “client’s client,” is a company that designs and manufactures ultra high end luxury home theaters, whole house distributed audio and video feeds, and basically everything you can automate in a house—from window shades to lighting control systems to climate controls to security measures. You want to watch CNN on a high definition plasma screen in the shower? This company does it. (Seriously) This is the kind of deal where you don’t even walk in the door unless you’ve got about $100 grand burning a hole in your pocket … and that’s just the ante. Total ‘Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous’ kind of thing.

Anyhow, back to the project. There’s over 80 pages to this website. Most of them are very technical in nature and a lot of the material is coming straight from the manufacturer. All I have to do with them is kind of “wordsmith” them and optimize them for a list of key phrases I was given to use. The rest of it, however, is just plain, good old “copywriting 101” stuff like the “Home Page,” “About Us” “Solutions,” “Products,” “Press Releases,” and … well, you get the idea.

It’s a good project and I wish I had one of these every week. (That would certainly catapult me into that elusive six-figure territory we’ve all heard tell about!) But you take what you can get, right?

What I try to do when I approach a project like this is first figure out the overall benefits and features of the product or service I’m writing about. The client questionnaire that I showed you a few weeks ago is a good start in this regard. The reason you have to have a clear idea of the benefits and features is because people buy benefits—not features—and you have damn little time and space on a webpage to convince them to do so. I also like to take it one step further in my copywriting and define the “results.” How are results different than benefits? Glad you asked … .

Basically, features are the attributes, properties, or characteristics of the product or service you’re writing about. Benefits are what those features deliver … what you can do, what you can have, or what you can be. Have you ever heard the expression, “sell the sizzle, not the steak”? Or “sell the hole, not the drill”? Same thing. People want to know what’s in it for them.

The results, however, drill down even further. The results are how the benefits directly impact the prospect’s life in a positive way. When you get past the steak and the sizzle, you have a meal to be shared with family. When you get past the drill and the hole, you have the means to put up a basketball hoop and watch your son work on his set shot. That’s the emotional level you have to attain to get your prospect’s attention!

Let’s break it down with an example I like to use:

Say a father goes out and wants to buy his son a battery-operated toy truck for Christmas. But instead of selecting a truck where he’d have to purchase the batteries separately, he selects one that comes with batteries included, even though it’s a couple bucks more than the other one.

Even if he hasn’t consciously considered it, in his mind he’s identified the feature, benefit, and result of buying the truck with batteries included:

  • Feature: The truck comes with batteries included.
  • Benefit: He won’t have to remember to buy the batteries separately, or run out on Christmas morning to get them.
  • Result: He gets to see the joy on his son’s face when he tears open that present on Christmas and gets to play with his new toy immediately.

Let’s take a look at the project I’m working on that I mentioned above. One of the features (the biggest feature, actually … ) of this company’s products is that they’re all based on Apple’s® OS X operating system. One of the main benefits is that a customer can access and monitor all the home automation features from halfway around the world simply by interfacing with an Apple iPhone™ or iPod touch™. Cool, huh?

But what’s the result? Well, there are a number of them. One of the things that I focused on is the security system giving the customer instant notification of when his kids got home from school. Another was the ability to remotely monitor all the exterior door locks, security cameras, and motion detectors at night, giving the customer the peace of mind that his family was safe and secure.

Wouldn’t you pay practically anything for that level of assurance?

If you can identify features and benefits, and then take it one step further and hit the “result” level by identifying the one thing that really tugs on the heartstrings of your prospect, you will have done your job as a copywriter.

Let me know what you think. Till next time, and as always …

Good health and good writing!

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Published: October 2, 2009

3 Responses to “Selling More Than Just Features and Benefits”

  1. I googled looking for "sell benefits not features" and found your site as well as "Marc from St. Paul, MN Prize: Chocolate Decadence Basket/Godiva ..." I'd like to find some copywriters in Mpls./St. Paul area that are great at benefit-based copy -- I need to have copy written, and need some great examples for a class I may be teaching. You made some good points.

    HelenJanuary 4, 2010 at 7:11 pm

  2. Helen you have come to the right place! is a free jobs board built to help you locate well-trained, highly-skilled freelance copywriters, as well as full-time and part-time copywriters to write advertising copy, promotional materials, brochures, web pages, online copy, emails, auto responders, lift notes, and more.
    Good luck!
    Barb Hume AWAI

    Barbra Hume-AWAI January 5, 2010 at 3:16 pm

  3. It's a good guide to the new copywriter like me. We can fix the context for the USP.

    Jawaharlal Jasthi 36January 20, 2015 at 6:02 pm

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