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Articles 1:

Know your features and benefits

style="color:rgb(75,75,75);">What makes your business truly remarkable? Unless you know your features and benefits and what they mean to your customers, they won't really care.

I recently met with the partners at a small financial planning company, who wanted a new brochure and sales presentation. My first question, as usual, was 'What makes your firm different?'

The answers were fairly predictable: 'We can handle most financial issues... you can have confidence in our advice... we have experience... we make plan that suits your needs.'

Well, yes, but the same goes for just about every other half-decent financial planning firm. I was reminded of the old saying 'Discounts are taxes placed on brands for being unremarkable.'

Sometimes I need to ask my clients a lot of questions before I get a clear answer about their competitive advantage. So, to save you a bit of time, let me share my number one copywriting tool with you. It requires no software. No fancy timers. Nothing but a piece of paper and a pencil.

"If a certain feature doesn't mean anything to the customer, than it's not really worth bothering them about, is it?"

It's a features and benefits table. And it's where I start with any new writing brief.

Do you know the difference between a feature and a benefit?

When I ask business owners the benefit of their service, I often hear; 'We have 20 years' experience.' Or, 'Our account managers have small groups of clients.' Or, more worryingly, 'It's a turn-key solution that drives innovation.'


These are all features. Except perhaps the last one because I still don't know what it means. Please don't use jargon-y clichés to describe a feature or benefit.

What will they actually do for me as a customer? That's what I'm interested in.

Here's how you work out the difference.

Step 1: Get a blank A4. Draw a line down the middle and write the headings Features on the left, and Benefits on the right.

Step 2: Make a list under Features of everything your service or product offers. Here are some examples in case you go blank:

  • Download updates online
  • Can be customised with your branding
  • Local customer service team
  • Dedicated account manager
  • WiMax technology built for data
  • Small classes
  • Simple automated systems

Step 3: Now, put yourself in your customers' shoes. What does that feature mean for them? It might mean different things for different types of customers. Write it all down next to the relevant feature.

If you find it tricky, add the words 'which means that...' to the end of your feature, and then complete the sentence. If a certain feature doesn't mean anything to the customer, than it's not really worth bothering them about, is it?

Here are some examples of benefits to match the features above.

  • Convenient, saves time
  • Promote your business professionally
  • You won't spend time on hold, and we're empowered to help you
  • Proactive support, focused on your needs
  • It's fast and reliable
  • You'll get the attention you need
  • Spend more time on your business, less time on paperwork

Step 4: Is there anything in your benefits list that really stands out? It may be something customers have mentioned they especially love about working with you, or something that you know no one else can offer.

Step 5: Write down a few different ways to express that benefit from your customer's point of view - keep it clear and simple.

And then make that benefit shine on your website, direct mail, flyers and presentations. If you think you need a tagline, there it is. You've also now got a quick response for networking and elevator pitches.

See? Now that wasn't so hard.

What's your key benefit? Or are you still confused whether it's a feature or a benefit? Share with us below!


Articles 2:

Promoting your product: Turn features into benefits that sell

Promoting the benefits of your product rather than just the features will make an emotional connection with your customer and persuade them to buy.

If you want your marketing to be as effective as possible, it has to really mean something to your customers. And one of the best (and easiest) ways to make sure of that is for you to communicate the benefits of your products or services.

Here's a bit of homework to do right now. Go and grab one of your ads, a brochure or even an email you've sent recently and read it. Does it list a bunch of features about your product or service? Such as a 42-inch television with 1080p high definition?

Or does it clearly explain the benefits of your product or service - why the customer needs a 42-inch television with 1080p high definition?

Speaking in terms of benefits rather than just listing of features, whether it's in writing or in person, means that you're speaking in a language that your customers understand. They wouldn't even need to understand what "1080p high definition" is, so long as you explain to the benefit - why they need a TV with 1080p high definition resolution. If you only tell customers about the features, how will they know if those features are good or not?

"If you don't show your customer what benefits those features offer, your message will fall on deaf ears."

You will likely know why the features of your products or services are important. But if you don't show your customer in very clear terms what benefits those features offer, your message will fall on deaf ears.

Explain why the customer will be better off with these features, or how a feature will make their lives different and straight away you'll be able to give those features a lot more meaning.


There is a simple three-step process that you can use to turn all of your amazing features into benefits that sell - and if the ad or brochure you found earlier only listed the features of your product or service, what better time than now to apply this simple process?

1. Features

What are the features of your product or service? Try to list things that are important to customers, not things that are important to you. And if you don't know what makes your customers tick and motivates them to buy - find out!

2. Advantages

Write down the advantages of having each of those features. An easy way to take is simply write, "which means..." after the feature.

3. Benefits

Now it's time to list some really clear benefits. The question you ask yourself this time is: "so what?" And the more times you "so what?" your features and advantages, the clearer and deeper the benefits will be.

Let's look at an example.

Product: XYZ accounting software.

Feature: Provides easy access to your accounting data...

Advantage: ... which means no matter where you are in the world you'll have access to your financial figures.

Benefit: "So what?" So you could be sitting on a beach in Hawaii, sipping on a cocktail, and still have the same access to your accounts as you would if you were sitting in front of your usual workstation. Not to mention that you can use an iPhone, iPad or any other smart device. Plus you can let your accountant have that same level of access, without ever having to see them or see a single USB stick ever again!

Can you see how listing the benefits start to make the features that much more compelling? I'd much rather imagine relaxing on a Hawaiian beach, cocktail in hand, than being told I'll have "easy access to my accounting data."

People buy with emotion and justify with logic. They buy the benefit, with which they make an emotional connection, and they reinforce that decision with the feature.

So, how did you go promoting your product? Did you create some no-brainer reasons why customers need to buy your product or service? 




Then use the provided template to complete the assignment.


Step 1: Conduct research online and find a product you do not currently use but are interested in using. Perhaps it is a product that a friend or acquaintance uses.


PROVIDE THE COMPANY WEBSITE FOR THE PRODUCT HERE:

·        ____________________________________________________________


Step 2: Features and Benefit. Using the table below, make a list under "Features" column. Write everything the product offers. You can add lines to the table as necessary. Then, list all the corresponding "Benefits" under the Benefits column. Remember, benefits showcase WHY that particular feature is important and tells the customer HOW this product will solve a problem they may have. For example, a benefit might be saving the customer time...BUT it is your job the expand on that benefit and tell them HOW the product will save them time. What does that feature mean for them? It might mean different things for different types of customers.


**If you find it tricky, add the words 'which means that...' to the end of your feature, and then complete the sentence. If a certain feature doesn't mean anything to the customer, then it's not really worth bothering them about, is it?

FEATURES:

_________________

_________________

_________________

_________________

_________________

_________________

_________________

_________________

_________________

BENEFITS:

_________________

_________________

_________________

_________________

_________________

_________________

_________________

_________________

_________________

Step 3: What top the benefits on your list above really stands out? It may be something customers have mentioned they especially love about working with you, or something that you know no one else can offer. Record them here:


1._________________

2._________________

3._________________



Step 4: If you were selling this product, write down at least one different way to express EACH of the three benefits listed in step 3 to a potential customer to get them "hooked" into buying the product. Remember, keep it clear and simple.

Benefit #1:

Benefit #2:

Benefit #3:

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