Archive for June, 2010

Small Business Advertising – Emphasize Benefits, Not Features

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

What are features? They are descriptions of what qualities a product possesses.

·    The XYZ car delivers 55 miles per gallon in the city.
·    Our ladder’s frame is made from a lightweight durable steel alloy.
·    Our glue is protected by a patent.
·    This database has a built-in data-mining system.

And what are benefits? They are what those features mean to your prospects.

·    You’ll save money on gas and cut down on environmental pollutants when you use our energy saving high-performance hybrid car. Plus, you’ll feel the extra oomph when you’re passing cars, courtesy of the efficient electric motor, which they don’t have!
·    Lightweight durable steel-alloy frame means you’ll be able to take it with you with ease, and use it in places most other ladders can’t go, while still supporting up to 800 pounds. No more backaches lugging around that heavy ladder. And it’ll last for 150 years, so you’ll never need to buy another ladder again!
·    Patent-protected glue ensures you can use it on wood, plastic, metal, ceramic, glass, and tile…without messy cleanup and without ever having to re-glue it again—guaranteed!
·    You can instantly see the “big picture” hidden in your data, and pull the most arcane statistics on demand. Watch your business do a “180” in no time flat, when you instantly know why it’s failing in the first place! It’s all done with our built-in data-mining system that’s so easy to use, my twelve year-old son used it successfully right out of the box.

I just made up those examples, but I think you understand my point.

By the way, did you notice in the list of features where I wrote “steel alloy?” But in the benefits I wrote “steel-alloy” (with a hyphen). Not sure off-hand which one is correct, but I know which one I’d use.

Here’s why: you are not writing to impress your English teacher or win any awards. The only award you’re after is your copy beating the control (control being the best-selling copy so far), so take some liberty in grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. You want it to be read and acted upon, not read and admired!

But—back to benefits…

If you were selling an expensive watch, you wouldn’t tell your reader that the face is 2 inches in diameter and the band is made of leather.

You show him how the extra-large face will tell him the time at a glance. No sir! He won’t have to squint and look foolish to everyone around him trying to read this magnificent timepiece. And how about the way he’ll project success and charisma when he wears the beautiful gold watch with its handcrafted custom leather band? How his lover will find him irresistible when he’s all dressed up to go out, wearing the watch. Or how the watch’s status and beauty will attract the ladies.

Incidentally, did you notice how I brought up not squinting as a benefit? Does that sound like a silly benefit? Not if you are selling to affluent baby boomers suffering from degrading vision. They probably hate it when someone they’re trying to impress sees them squint in order to read something. It’s all part of their inner desire, which you need to discover. And which even they may not know about. That is, until you show them a better way.

The point is to address the benefits of the product, not its features. And when you do that, you’re focusing on your reader and his interests, his desires. The trick is to highlight those specific benefits (and word them correctly) that push your reader’s emotional hot buttons.

How do you do that?

To be continued…