There are a lot of ways to explain it, but it comes down to this: Features are an offshoot of the way we see our products from the seller's side. Our products are like our children; we love them no matter how others feel about them. We think about them constantly, we know them inside and out in all of their beautiful, glorious detail.
Benefits, on the other hand, can only be understood by seeing our products from buyer's point of view. The buyer doesn't care as much about features (what does it do?) as they do about benefits (what does it do for me?).
Let's say your company invented a new line of cooking pots that prevents food from burning. Let's call it the FoodSaver line of cookware. Wow, as the designer, you have every right to feel proud of the technical masterpiece you've created. No doubt you can carry on lengthy scientific discussions about how it works, what it's made of, and so on.
That's really great. Really. But get it out of your system before you start marketing the FoodSaver line because that kind of talk will only sell pots to other scientists. Nobody else cares about coolfoodenium, the secret chemical coating that makes this cooking miracle possible.
"Okay," you say, "let's talk about what it does. It keeps the food from burning. That's enough to make anyone buy it."
Not quite. You've just described a feature (what does it do?), not a benefit (what does it do for me?). To translate this feature into a benefit, let's play the "which-means-that" game--from the buyer's point of view:
It keeps the food from burning which means that the food will taste better
which means that my family will enjoy the food more
which means that they will respect my cooking skills
which means that I will feel more loved and appreciated by my family.
Now you're onto something. Improving a person's sense of being appreciated by loved ones is the beginning of a successful advertising concept. This suggests an ad, blog post, video, commercial--name your medium--that starts with the idea of family love and respect. It has nothing to do with coolfoodenium. It has everything to do with a mom or dad earning smiles from the people they love.
Another advertising concept might center around the secondary feature of not having to spend as much time washing dishes due to burned-on food, which means that buyers will have more spare time, which means that they will be able to pursue other pleasures. This suggests an advertising message built around a person enjoying the leisure of curling up with a good book and a delicious bowl of chocolate pudding, which was effortlessly prepared in a FoodSaver cooking pot.
So, what do people want? It isn't complicated:
- to be liked/loved
- to feel safe
- to feel secure
- to feel appreciated/respected
- to feel attractive
- to experience pleasure/leisure
- to have more money
Notice that they key word in many of these statements is "feel." Always try to play to people's hearts rather than their brains because that's ultimately where the decisions are made.
So, to turn the benefit lens onto myself as the proud owner of a Wichita marketing firm, I say to you: As a business owner and marketer, try to translate your features into benefits, which means that people will understand why your product will help them fulfill their desires, which means that they will develop an emotional attachment to it, which means that they will buy it, which means that you will have more money, feel more secure, have more leisure time and feel more appreciated by your family.
Wichita marketing firm Ponder:Connect
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