Features and Benefits - Adrian Fleming
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Features and Benefits

Features and Benefits

There’s more to it than Features and Benefits – there are two other elements

I was watching the UK TV show Dragon’s Den the other day when one of the people pitching for investment says he’d like to go through the benefits of his product with the Dragon’s, needless to say he listed features.

Another example was a leaflet I was handed yesterday from a company looking to sell managed print services, (what they actually wanted to sell or lease was laser printers and photocopiers but they think managed print services sounds more impressive) with section on the leaflet titled “Key benefits”. This firm had money on professional design, stock photography, print and the sales person walking around where our offices are handing this thing out, but whoever wrote the copy not only had no idea what a benefit was, the copy was written so badly it was almost funny – it’s what you’d expect if somebody was producing a parody of somebody who does sales and marketing with all the jargon an “B.S.” that had been written.

I’m amazed how many people don’t seem to understand the difference between features and benefits and this really hurts their ability to market and sell, but there’s more to be gained by knowing about the other two, even more relevant elements, let me explain.

In simple terms, features are interesting to yourself and some people but benefits sell and will make sales far easier and, best of all, it only takes a few minutes to get it right once and for all.

Features are statements about your product or service, specification attributes and definitive, definable and measurable elements.

Benefits are far more emotional and show a result the customer can expect that is advantageous to them, if possible overcoming a problem they have, delivering an opportunity that they would want, or both.

Please also don’t think a feature advantage between one product or service and another is a benefit, it’s not, it’s just an advantage.

I advise people to use features as an explanation of specification or to lead in to benefits rather than as the structure behind and form of marketing, for example, if a new digital camera has a feature such as a 20.2 Mega Pixel CMOS chip this delivers the benefit of crisp, clear shots in all lighting situations that require less, maybe even no image editing to get the best results, saving you time, the standard image files are also big enough for print situations where a higher resolution images is required.

If you want to really “turn people on” then make sure you don’t stop at benefits, use the other two elements too which are end results (sometimes also called outcomes) and transformations. When people know your product or service delivers an end result and that result will transform things then it shows real relevance and value to the right prospect.

Whatever you explain, whether they be features, benefits, results or transformations, they must be based on what the customer wants – notice I didn’t say needs because people buy what they want, not what they need.

You also shouldn’t use jargon, images, graphics and language your audience will not immediately understand and relate to, a good way to help stop this is to use story-telling, case studies, metaphors and testimonials as a way to explain what you can do for somebody, especially as this provides a level of third party validation and social proof for extra impact.

So when creating your sales, marketing and promotional material I recommend you make a list of each feature, benefits relating to each feature and also a story, case study, metaphor or testimonial that could represent each of them and then work that into your material, because just by doing that and then clearly communicating features, benefits, results and transformations, you should see a sizeable uplift in sales almost immediately.