Know Thy Features and Benefits (article + quiz!)

A cardinal rule of marketing is to always think about and promote your product’s features and benefits. And while that sounds easy, it isn’t. Most people don’t know the difference between the two.

Now it’s your turn to become a features and benefits expert. Read on, learn fast, then take the quiz to show off your new know-how.

The Basics

FEATURES are what your product is, the product’s essence as well as its components.

ENHANCED FEATURES are any elaboration on a feature by use of superlatives or by figuring out what the feature does when in use. The term “enhanced features” isn’t something you’ll find in many textbooks or elsewhere on the web, but having this extra category will help clarify some things. Trust me.

BENEFITS
are how your product makes customers’ lives better. You can also think about benefits as “results.”

EXAMPLES:

Feature: Voice-activated dialing.
Enhanced Feature: You can operate your cell phone hands-free while driving.
Benefit: You won’t get in a car accident.

Feature: Weekly emails highlighting marketing blog posts from the past week.
Enhanced Feature: 
Free marketing tips, direct to your inbox.
Benefit:
Sound smarter at your next job interview, and land the job!

Feature: Sherpa fleece lining.
Enhanced Feature: Feels soft and cozy.
Benefit: You’ll stay warm when the temperature drops.

Making Features More Exciting

As you saw in the above examples, features can be enhanced with the addition of descriptors such as “soft and cozy.” You can also try bolder options like “lightning fast” or “the best on the market.”

Playing with language or referring to multiple features at once can also help up the excitement quotient. This example does just that; it’s from Apple, and it’s about the iMac: “Power and Performance. Beautifully packaged.” When you look past the dramatic language, you see that Apple is highlighting the quality of its processors and the aesthetics of its design: features, plain and simple.

How to Find Your Product’s Benefits

Figuring out a product’s benefits can be tough because it requires knowing your audience and thinking critically about how your product will serve them.

Let’s say you’re selling an extremely high resolution computer monitor. Who is the audience? Presume there are two markets: consumers for home use and hospitals/medical facilities for professional use. The benefits will be different for each.

Start with your consumer market. Let’s say it’s mostly techie geeks who always want the latest and greatest, and their primary use for the monitor will be watching movies. The benefits, therefore, should play to these desires by emphasizing that the owner will be the envy of his or her friends, will enjoy movies more, and be happier overall.

Now let’s tackle the medial B2B (Business to Business) audience. Let’s assume that doctors will use these monitors during endoscopic procedures such as colonoscopies and endodontic surgeries. If the doctor can get a crisper, clearer view, then he or she will be more likely to catch potential dangers, remove the entire tumor, or be successful, whatever the goal. The benefit, therefore, should speak to improved patient outcomes and possible money savings due to a reduced risk of lawsuits.

Are You Blown Away?

For many of you, this is likely a new way to think about features and benefits. In the past, you may have stopped at the “enhanced feature” stage and not pushed further to really figure out how your product or service enhances the customer’s life.

If you haven’t thought about benefits before, don’t worry. First, product features are important, too, so there’s nothing wrong with highlighting them. Second, nothing’s stopping you from revising your presentations, editing your website, and updating your ads to let customers know how you might help improve their lives.

Quiz Time!

Take this short quiz to see if you know what’s up when it comes to features and benefits.

Note: These are real-world examples taken from actual websites, so features and benefits are often mixed together. In the case where both are mentioned, it’s still a benefit, so be sure to treat it as such.

Tweet that you passed!

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~ by SFcopywriter on October 19, 2011.

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