Commonly accepted marketing wisdom suggests that customers like benefits. They don’t give a damn about features. A classic Marketing 101 exercise suggests that you take a piece of paper, and on the left side, write down a list of your product or service’s features. On the right side, list the corresponding benefit(s).
Heaters Feature: It comes with a timer.
Benefit: Your house will be warm when you get home from work.
Lipstick Feature: Fancy-pants patent-pending co-enzyme light-diffusing blah blah blah.
Benefit: Your lips will be glossier.
Trousers Feature: Lycra panels at the waist
Benefit: You will look 10 pounds slimmer.
It’s a little harder to demonstrate when you’re selling a service. Features and benefits tend to look alike. Here are a few:
Phone service Feature: Call forwarding
Benefit: You’ll never miss another important call.
Internet service Feature: 7 megabyte per second download speed
Benefit: All those mp3s you’re stealing come much faster.
Benefit: You get a pretty website.
What if you can’t figure out if something is a feature or a benefit?
If you don’t know, drill down. Ask why whatever it is you’re thinking about is important to your customer. When you arrive at an answer that even a three-year-old could understand, you’ve found your benefit.
For example, let’s say you run a freelance writing business. You have a network of other writers to whom you can subcontract. Is your network a benefit or a feature?
You: I have a team of freelancers available to me.
Customer: Why do I care?
You: Because you can have your stuff done 5 times faster.