Benefits vs Features: How to Capture and Keep Attention

benefits vs features

Let’s say you’re a first-time entrepreneur who’s looking to sell digital products or services. Maybe you’re a designer, engineer, coder, or writer. And you’re launching your first online course.

How would you market your product/service? How do you successfully capture the interest and curiosity of your target audience?

Some people decide to leave all their marketing needs to professional marketers. And depending on your circumstances, that could work for you too. But in my experience, whether you’ll hire a marketer or not, it’s in your best interest to have a good understanding of effective copywriting.

In other words, you want to know how to offer your product in a way that more prospects are willing to buy. You want to increase your conversion rate.

You know your product/service best. And you understand the value of what you’re offering better than anyone else. If you combine that knowledge with the copywriting strategy you’ll learn in this article, you’ll have an edge over your competitors and potentially sell more.

So let’s take a look at one of the foundations of selling anything: Benefits and Features

If you learn about this principle, you’ll know more about copywriting and marketing than 99% of the population. Benefits and features are often used interchangeably and confused with one another. But they’re different.

To illustrate, we’ll take a look at the Waking Up app by Sam Harris. It’s the best mindfulness and meditation app I’ve used so far. I think the app’s website and social media channels are great at selling the app. Let’s look at why that is. But first, let’s define them. 

What are features?

Features describe what your product/service does and how it’s different from the competition. Go to your local car dealer and they’ll sell you their car’s features: electronic stability control, the latest video and sound system, special tether functions for drivers who have small kids, and so forth.

If you’re a website designer; the features of your service can include website speed optimization, unique mobile-friendly site designs, etc. You get the idea.

The Waking Up App has features that aren’t available in other meditation and mindfulness apps, and this makes it stand out in the market:

  • Different types of meditation available: metta-loving, headless, meditation for children, etc.
  • Conversations with meditation experts about various life topics
  • In-depth talks about the fundamentals of mindfulness and meditation
  • A timer with a zen gong

What are benefits?

Features talk about what the product/service does. Meanwhile, benefits focus on how the product/service can be helpful to the target audience. This is basically why people purchase things/services—because it’s helpful to them.

That’s also why most ads you see are benefit-focused. Take a look at this Waking Up ad:

Notice the ad doesn’t talk about features. Instead, it focuses on the app’s main benefit: “understanding the mind for the purpose of living a better life.”

We purchase something because we have an unmet need. And benefit-focused messaging shows how your product/service can fulfill that unmet need. They talk about the results or outcomes your target audience aims to achieve.

As Zig Ziglar, author of Secrets of Closing the Sale said: “Stop selling. Start helping.”

The Key Difference

When customers decide to buy (or not buy), they consider both benefits and features. They think about things like price, relevance, design, and so forth. But ultimately, customers buy because of a product’s benefit.

Once the customer is sold on the concept (they’re convinced a meditation app can help them live a better life), they’ll start looking at options. They ask, “Which meditation app is the best for me?”

That’s where features come in. It signals which audience is the best fit. And since we’re bombarded with options every day, features help our product/service to stand out. 

When Should You Mention Benefits?

While you need to highlight both benefits and your features, you want to find a good balance. Overemphasizing your features will put off a lot of people who’re more interested in the benefits. And vice versa.

Benefit-focused messaging is particularly important when your offer is relatively new to the market or customers are unfamiliar with your brand. Observe the common questions you get from customers (or beta-testers, while validating your product/service idea).

Ask: How does your product/service make the customer’s life easier and better? How does it work?

Benefit-focused messaging helps you hook customer interest effectively: You draw them in with your product’s benefit. And even if they’re unfamiliar with your brand or product concept, they’ll be interested in the solution you’re offering.

In our example, Waking Up is targeting people who want to live better lives. Whether or not someone is familiar with meditation as a tool for mindfulness, clarity, and focus, the benefit-focused message grabs their interest.

When Should You Mention Features?

Features are best for saturated markets. When customers are already familiar with a product’s/service’s concept and benefits, they’ll start looking at features to differentiate one brand over another.

The main question a prospect tries to answer is: “Which brand is the best fit for me?”

A good example would be meal-delivery apps. Most people know how it works and how it would benefit them. Now, they’re looking for the app that best fits them. 

Highlighting your features, like lower pricing, menu configuration, dietary restrictions, and so forth can help your product/service break through the noise.

Clear messaging attracts attention

Getting your product/service successfully out there is all about messaging. No one wants to be sold something—unless they find it useful. So our job is to effectively communicate how our product/service can make our customers’ lives better.

I personally don’t use ads for my business (though if that works for you, then go for it). I’m also not a fan of making outrageous claims about my products so I can get attention.

Instead, I focus on informing my target audience about the benefits and features of my products.

In my experience, when you know when to talk about your benefits and when to highlight your features, you will sell more. And when you sell more, your business generates sustainable income that gives you financial stability and fulfillment in the long run.

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