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It’s a mantra that has been firmly implanted into the consciousness of every online copywriter: you must highlight your product’s benefits rather than just list its features.

But what’s the difference between a feature and a benefit? And how do we, as writers, know what a product’s benefits really are?

The first question is easy to answer. A feature is either a specification, or a description or something the product does; a benefit is something the customer gains, the payoff.

For example, a razor may “feature” a blade that’s just 0.3mm thick and sharpened with .15 micron diamond dust. To some customers, this will be important. But to most, it’ll be meaningless. They’ll want to know the benefit. They’ll want to know that their face will be baby-butt smooth… and will stay that way at least 5 hours longer than with a standard razor. “If you have a hot date after work, you won’t need to shave again.” Now that’s a payoff!

The second question is tougher to answer. How do we, as writers, know what a product’s important benefits are?

Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself:

  • What does the product do? (In other words, what are its features?)
  • Why has each feature been included? What problem does it solve?
  • How and why does the product solve the problem better than competing products?
  • What do customers gain from having this problem solved? What’s the payoff?
  • Does the product save customers time or money? Will it make them the envy of their friends? Will it earn them the undying admiration of their spouse?
  • How does the product make customers feel good?

 

Ask yourself the above questions, and you’ll be much better equipped to communicate emotionally with your readers… and to explain how the product will improve their lives.

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