Features vs. benefits… benefits vs. features… You need them both, but how do you use them properly in your marketing strategy?
Have you ever walked into a store and left more confused than ever… and empty-handed?
I went to buy a new mattress and had narrowed the choice down based on price range. The sales person listed off a few features of each:
- Stay True Foam
- Opticore Technology
- Opticool Gel
- The firmest of the foam mattresses in the store
- Spring mattress
- Pocket coils
- Memory foam topper
- Firm mattress
OK… So what?
None of those features mean anything to me. While I ended up picking a mattress based on how it felt, I did need some explanation as to why I would care whether my mattress was foam or spring and why I would need a firmer mattress vs. a softer one. I found out that the foam mattress had cooling technology that helped with regulating temperature and that the foam itself helped to contour better to the body. Sold.
What’s the difference?
Features are facts about a product/service describing what a product or service is while benefits communicate what it does. They add credibility and substance and are generally developed in response to common problems your target audience has (AKA pain points).
Benefits are the “so what” in the equation. They describe what customers can accomplish with each feature, providing value and a reason to purchase. Before selling to your customers you need to pre-answer their question: “What’s in it for me?”
Why does it matter?
It’s never about you… ever… (this is a running theme in marketing). While your product/service features are important because it is what sets you apart from the competition in many cases, you need to remember that your audience doesn’t necessarily care how “it” works, they want to know what “it” does.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Bells and whistles only matter if they know why they are important. Not only that, when your customers are making purchase decisions, they want them to be as easy as possible. Identifying the benefits for them means you are doing the work by telling the customer why they want to buy what you’re selling. Don’t assume your customers/target audience already knows everything about what you have to offer. You need to connect the dots. Describing your benefits will allow you to educate your audience about what you’re selling while making a stronger connection with them. They will feel like you understand them and their needs.
Ultimately, relying on the product/service benefits will help you convert customers, which, along with building loyal customer relationships, should be your end goal.
What does this mean for your marketing strategy?
You need to focus on results-based marketing to show proof that your features are worthy of purchase. Go beyond talking about your product/service to speak to what your customer needs and wants. And get to the point – don’t make them work too hard to get there.
Features are often too technical, so you need to sell your audience on the benefits first. This means figuring out what your benefits are.
4 steps to figuring out the benefits of what you’re offering
Features and benefits are like two dialects of the same language. Translating your features into benefits is not only good business, but if you do it early on in your marketing planning, it should drive your strategy – both the messaging and the tactics you choose to use.
Here are 4 steps to help you translate your features into benefits. You’ll be speaking your customers’ language in no time!
Step 1: List all of your features
When developing your product/service, you should know what features you have to offer. Chances are it can be a long list. Write them all down, regardless of whether you think they are important or not. Then rank them in order of importance so you can narrow the list down to your top 3 or 4 features. You will know what the top features are because those are what you would consider your top selling points.
Step 2: Describe what each feature does
Using the top features that you have selected, write a few sentences describing what it does for your customer. If there is cooling gel technology in the mattress, it means that customers can regulate body temperature easily, allowing for a more consistent and restful sleep.
Step 3: How does this relate to your audience needs?
By now, you should know your audience’s pain points – those problems that you are trying to fix with your product or service. Match up your feature description with a pain point and figure out how each feature addresses a pain point specifically.
Step 4: Bring emotion into it
Your marketing should create some sort of emotional reaction for your audience – that is how you will create stronger and more memorable connections. Figure out how each feature makes your audience feel.
You have now figured out what the benefits are for your audience. Work that into your marketing.
While benefits are important, remember that features still matter, they just aren’t the hook that will help you connect with your audience. If you are having trouble pinpointing what the exact benefits of your product/service are, be sure to give us a call!