Striking the balance with the right mix in your marketing message is integral to attracting clientele and achieving sales. Compelling copy is essential to truly engage your prospective and existing clients and targeting your language to suit the audience is highly-important. You want your marketing message to stand out but to also be comprehensible to the audience you are marketing to. Let’s face it, prospects are not going to translate into clients if your message doesn’t make an impact and compel them to purchase your product and/or service.
That’s where the features vs. benefits conundrum comes in. Each has its place in marketing messaging, but many businesses aren’t clear when to use each.
Features vs. Benefits: What are the Differences?
So, what are exactly features and benefits in marketing?
Features describe what the product or service does and what its attributes or qualities are.
Benefits convey what the product or service can do to improve a situation as well as what the advantage is for the target audience, the client. In other words, a benefit is the experience the customer will receive after purchasing a product or service.
How To Know Whether To Use Features Or Benefits
But how do you know whether to use features vs. benefits in your marketing mix of messaging? Deciding on what to convey in your message is integral to whether it will drive engagement and potentially attract clientele which equals sales revenue.
The important and practical thing to do is to investigate – research your audience as to what makes them tick. Here are some tips on how.
If you have the time and inclination to properly engage in some research with your existing client base or prospective clientele on your mailing list, create a short survey with key questions to understand what your audience would like to gain from your product and/or service.
- Count the Responses
Keep count of the responses, particularly noting the ones that have a common theme. These should identify messages you want to hit when you send out your marketing communications.
Features vs. Benefits in Your Marketing Message
As a marketing professional or business owner, sending out marketing messages is an important way to keep in touch with existing and prospective clientele. If you choose to convey features of your product or service, make the recipients understand how they will benefit. In a highly-saturated market, features are a great way to convey information about your product or service, while in a small market, benefits are the way to go to highlight what advantages and added value you bring you to the client’s life.
Here are some tips on articulating features and benefits in your marketing mix.
Tell your audience about a prominent feature about your product and/or service in a way that builds excitement. If you are marketing an event, showcase a feature of it with behind-the-scenes content, or introduce a key speaker of a conference. Video content of a key speaker or headline act drumming up excitement about the event is one way to highlight a feature.
Conveying a benefit is likely to induce excitement within the audience especially if it is the right audience for your market. Having conducted some research, you should be well aware of the target audience for your products and/or services. Marketing an event can also include highlighting a benefit such as what information they will gain from a conference or presentation.
- Communicate Cost-Effectiveness
Everyone wants to get value for money, and if you can focus on the cost-effectiveness of your product or service, you’ll likely inspire your client’s interest. Consider your product/service and see how you can point out a way for your client to save money.
The benefit to the client is that they’ll save time and money by going to the right person with the right skills and equipment for that service.
- Connect to the Customer’s Desire
Is your knowledge and enthusiasm for your business, product, or service enough to prompt someone to buy from you or hire you? Unless you appeal to a particular need, want, or desire, it is unlikely. You need to find a way to slip into your client’s mind and find out their true desires. Take a look at your features. A simple way to refocus your information about those features is to ask the question, “So what?” Why is that feature important, and how does it help your client?
Take a custom builder, for example. Their clients may be looking for a kitchen/bathroom renovation or a dream home build. This is where the “So what” question comes in handy. You can offer a new build with many amazing features, but unless those features are what your client is looking for, then it isn’t a benefit to them. Offering several customizable options is a way you could increase the benefit to your clients.
A renovation could offer to replace old appliances or fittings, but a benefit to your client could be including the disposal of the old appliances.
- Switch Your Focus
This is where many people struggle when working on their marketing message. The consumer, in general terms, is selfish. She is not so concerned with what a product or service can do, but what it can do FOR HER. This is where switching your focus comes in. Instead of dry information about the features of your product/service, change it to why they are a benefit to your customer. This will then help you to write a marketing message that is interesting and compelling. Say you have a website with two hundred online courses. There’s the feature.
The benefit is that there is a wide variety of courses available that can help a customer get a better job or promotion. A compelling message is, “Advance your career with a comprehensive list of courses to suit your needs.”
Getting It Right
Success in business isn’t just about offering a product or service to your client. It’s also having the right marketing message to gain new clients and increase sales.
Solely focusing on features vs. benefits may not be the perfect message for your audience. Combine a description of the features with information about what the product does and the benefits to your client, and you’ve got the makings of a successful marketing message. Hone it further to build excitement and connect to the customer’s desires, keeping the focus on the customer, and you are far more likely to keep a customer coming back and gain new clients as well.
Simon Choi is a small business founder with a background in change management and marketing in corporate consulting. He has worked in consulting firms (EY / KPMG) and financial services in Australia. He writes in business and psychology.