What are Features and Benefits?

A feature is something identifiable with a product or service e.g. the new Mondeo has alloy wheels as standard; KPMG provides international tax consultancy services; ERH is a man. Alloy wheels, international tax consultancy and man are all features.

By themselves they mean absolutely sod all!

Benefits are the result of product/service features applied to a potential buyer to solve a problem or satisfy a need they have.

So:

“The new Mondeo has alloy wheels as standard which means that you get a great, racy looking car without the additional cost for optional extras. “

The benefit here is two-fold: a “great, racy looking car” and no “additional cost”.

Hang on a minute!

“I hate alloy wheels and I don’t want a car that says “I’m a boy racer!” – these aren’t benefits!”

You must remember that to be classified as a benefit, the feature must be applied to solve a problem or satisfy a need of the actual customer.

What has this got to do with writing?

Writing persuasively requires you to know your reader and assess what makes them tick. Writing is a distant communication medium; we can be distant geographically or in time so we have no opportunity to develop any empathy as a result of face-to-face connection with our readers. Developing empathy is crucial to delivering persuasive content and commissions so taking the time with your research to understand the potential market/readership will allow you to start making some objective, educated guesses as to what features are likely to be of benefit to them en masse.

KPMG was, maybe still is, a world leading provider of accountancy services and I would expect anyone looking for their services to be the type of business person who reads the Economist or the Financial Times. Simply put, they will be rich, looking to make more money or employed in a decision making capacity by a company that is rich and looking to save and make money.

So:

“KPMG provides a global tax consultancy service which means that you can access state of the art tax saving vehicles developed by our experienced team to protect your bottom line and reduce your global tax burden.”

Now tell me – would Sir Alan Sugar be interested in saving tax and protecting his company profits?

or

Do you think Sir Alan Sugar is interested just for the sake of it that KPMG has a tax practice?

Always sell the benefits!