Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Good Example of Writing to the Differences between a "Feature" and a "Benefit."

Thank you to everyone who participated in yesterday's webinar.

Right now I want to share with you a very clear definition of "Feature" vs. "Benefit" that was just sent to me by my good friend Page Stull here at MGI. Page has a very long history as an editor and association marketer so I value his insights greatly.

While I'm sure this may be "old hat" to many of you, I believe it never hurts to review. So, I'll leave you Page's trustworthy hands for the rest of this post:

Most of us understand the difference between benefits and features, but let’s take that concept to the next level so our copy can be even more effective.


First, let’s define the features/benefits relationship:

  • Features are the things associations give their members.
  •  Benefits are what members receive using the features.
Here is a feature-laden sentence:

 When you join the association, as a member you'll be eligible for continuing education courses for just $59 per credit.

Here is a benefit-focused rewrite:

 Our continuing education programs will increase your understanding and elevate your skills for just $59 per credit.

The rewrite assumes the reader values increased understanding and elevated skills, but perhaps we can do even better by adding the element of emotion.

People have aspirations in life—to be better off, to be a better person, to gain respect, avoid discomfort, to be satisfied, and so forth. So, we add an aspiration—say, a promotion.

Here is the rewrite:

 Our continuing education programs will increase your understanding and elevate your skills for just $59 per credit, building on your experience and perhaps taking your career to the next level—all for just $59 per credit.

When features become benefits of value we can appeal to our reader’s aspirations and stir emotions. And that’s far more powerful than a mere feature.

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