One of the early lessons that you learn from sales, marketing, and advertising is that there should be a focus on the benefits of a product instead of the features.
Benefits Compared to Features
Features are characteristics that a product possesses, while a benefit is a positive result that occurs because of the features. Let’s take the example of the book I’m currently writing: Pintalysis, the Ultimate Marketing Blueprint for Pinterest. I can say that the book has the following:
It has over 200 pages of information.
It will show you what type of pictures to put onto your Pinterest board.
The book will also show you how to rank higher in Pinterest’s search engine.
These are all features of the book, but the benefits of purchasing a book are much different.
The information that the book provides will generate more targeted leads for a business site, as well as help e-commerce owners earn more money from a new customer base.
A good example of highlighting benefits compared to features is a car commercial done for Volkswagen Jetta. The commercial doesn’t talk about the horsepower it possesses, it doesn’t talk about the variety of safety features that are offered (though these may be factors in a purchase decision), instead they focused on the main benefit of driving a VW Jetta. Driving one can save your life during the most vital moment – during a car crash.
As a side note, it was reported that sales of the VW Jetta jumped up by 17% after the commercial aired.
On any given day you might hear people talk about a patented technology or material that makes their car safer, or they talk about the safety rating that they received from a 3rd party consumer organization, but the Jetta commercial doesn’t talk about the technology, or the materials, or even use a crash test dummy, they show safety first hand in graphic and real detail. They focus on the main benefit, the potential to save your life, and walk away unhurt.
A mistake that can happen quite often is to list out features in marketing material, this is especially common for the product industry. But it’s really the benefits of the product that will sell.
A Benefit Solves A Customer’s Pain Point
Another way of looking at a benefit, is that a benefit is a solution to a pain problem that a customer has. If the benefit can solve a tremendous pain problem that the customer is experiencing, than this is a major benefit to the consumer.
It’s also important to ask why a feature is important. A feature of Pinterest is its visual content. When a picture on Pinterest is clicked on it can redirect back to the page that the image is hosted on. So what’s the big deal about that particular feature? Why is that important? Well, when planned out correctly, it can drive potential buyers to an e-commerce site, and that means that it can help a business earn more money from a whole new customer base. That’s the benefit of Pinterest.
Sometimes it can be hard for consumers to piece together a feature associated with a specific benefit for a product. This is a common problem that people who work in their industry too long. They associate a feature to a benefit right away without a second thought. But new users of a product don’t see this, and a marketer needs to be able to lead them through the process of connecting a feature to an actual benefit.
Infomercials are extremely good at this process. If you notice carefully infomercials discuss quite a bit about features, especially ones that focus on cosmetics. An infomercial may tell you that they have a secret substance that they found in a plant that’s from a tropical area of the world. This is a feature. They then go on and say that the product will help you get rid of wrinkles. This is what I would call a light benefit, but the customer starts to connect the dots of how the feature is helpful. And then an infomercial shows two pictures of how much younger a woman may look after using that product that contains special mineral and vitamins. The benefit is then solidified. The cosmetic product will help you look younger, longer. It will make you feel happier, more confident and self assured in your daily life.
For most infomercials they will link the emotional benefits of using their product. And the power of highlighting emotional benefits is powerful.
Benefits Can Be Emotions
While a benefit can focus on solving an actual problem, the benefit of a particular product may be to elevate a person’s mood or to lesson a negative feeling. If someone feels that they are being overwhelmed by stress, then a new bubble bath product can be used to help a person relax after a long and stressful day of dealing with dozens of customer complaints.
Or owning a new big screen offers the benefits of hours of entertainment, excitement and happiness. It takes away the pain of being bored at home with nothing to do.
If a customer can feel a strong emotional benefit with your product then this will definitely help drive sales of your product. Always think of what the emotional benefits a customer may have when he decides to use your product.
You may be able to hype up a product through creative marketing, but at the end of the day if the product doesn’t truly provide a real benefit to your customers, there isn’t going to be a sustainable business model.
When It’s Useful to Highlight Features
I don’t want to give the impression that features aren’t important, as a matter of fact one of the key ways that features can be helpful in marketing is when it a feature clearly allows it to differentiate it from other competitors, and how that feature allows it to be better than its competitors.
Informercials that focus on cosmetics know that they need to compete with a lot of different cosmetics out there. But if they talk about how they extract a specific vitamin from a type of fruit and the process is secretive and only known by the company, then the feature they’ve highlighted has given them a differentiation factor compared to their competition. And this can help them stand out, but at the end of the day, features and benefits need to work together like a great peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
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