Writing Persuasively 3 – Features Tell, Benefits Sell


“In our factory, we make lipstick. In our advertising, we sell hope.” – Charles Revson

Whenever someone reads your website’s landing page or sales letter they’re not thinking about how clever the wordplay is but ‘what’s in it for me?’

They want to know how your product can solve their problem and benefit them personally, not how great your company is or how many speed settings your widget has.

If you’ve provided them with the right triggers, their imagination will also be picturing what life would be like if they took advantage of your offer. Justifying their purchasing decisions with logic comes after.

So your writing needs to be able to make the reader feel what they’d gain from agreeing to buy from you, which means you need to be able to write in the emotionally charged language of benefits, and not just features.

[Before the comments section gets flooded I think I should mention that there’s an exception to this rule. If you’re writing for experts in your industry, the technically minded or no nonsense business people then stick to features. These readers are more interested in what you’re product actually does and how it’s better than your competitor’s, rather than reading emotionally driven prose. Give them hard data, facts and the bottom line if you want to earn their trust].

Features or benefits? What’s the difference?

In basic terms, features are what a product does and the benefits are what customers gain.

An electric drill’s features might be its multiple speed settings and four drill sizes, whilst its benefits are the smooth holes in a wall and being able to put up some shelves to showoff your sporting memorabilia.

Features are a product’s practical information and specifications.

Benefits are the basis for painting an emotionally charged picture of a better life with your product in it, which seduces your prospect and makes your offer sound irresistible.

Writing about benefits helps your reader to understand the full meaning of what your product promises to do for them.

So you need your writing needs to appeal to your target’s personal motives and emotional triggers.

What are my product’s benefits?

To assess what benefits you can use to create desire in your target reader, it can be helpful to write lists of:

  • The features – what the product actually does
  • Why each feature is included and what problem it solves
  • Why it solves the problem better than the other products available
  • What the customer gains from a problem being solved
  • What customer motives does the product appeal to
  • How will gaining a benefit make the customer feel

From this you should be able to compile a list of the problems your product solves and the benefits customers will gain, such as gratitude for finally hanging the wedding photos or becoming so filthy rich they can take twice daily showers in money.

When writing you’ll need to go through each benefit explaining in personal and emotional terms how your product can improve the reader’s life.

Give them real world examples of someone who’s reaped the rewards you promise, and keep piling on the benefits until they cant say no.

So whilst your competitors’ bland corporate copy continues to waffle on about cold features and their paradigm shift in forward thinking solutions, make sure you’re talking about benefits and the emotional rewards readers will gain from buying from you.

But before you start hammering them into your keyboard, we’re not quite at the writing stage yet.

You still need to structure how you communicate the benefits, so they seduce readers with a precisely worded, persuasive argument.

And, funnily enough, persuasive writing structure just happens to be the topic of next week’s article, so stay subscribed people.

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