When you are copywriting your website and crafting your sales pages, should you focus on features or benefits? Are features or benefits more persuasive?
Should we be selling benefits rather than features?
Jason Cohen asked using the phrase “sell benefits, not features” on Twitter and I replied there but, as usual, I discovered I had more than the limited Tweet-quantity of words to share.
Features and Benefits in Copywriting
Tech companies, such as the Apple example below, are renowned for leading with features.
Are your prospects looking for a certain feature or specification?
In this specific example, battery life could be a deal-breaker when comparing different devices. However, are they looking for “long” battery life, and the benefit that implies, or a specific minimum durability so they know, for example, the device will last their average commuter flight duration?
Contrast with this ad:
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Features or Benefits Copywriting in the Buyer’s Journey
Starting with “features or benefits” is positioning the issue as a “what should I do” problem, not a “what does my prospect want or need” situation, and that is bad.
- Where is your prospect in the buyer’s journey?
- How much research have they done so far?
- Do they even know they have the problem you solve yet?
There is a BIG difference between someone who is comparing offers and someone who is seeking out a solution. Someone very early in their discovery might not even know the terms you would use on a features list.
My friend Jonathan has been helping me get into the Gunpla hobby.
If you haven’t heard that term before, join the club, because I didn’t know much about them either.
Until I started researching I vaguely knew them as plastic robot model kits that were somehow related to Japanese Gundam cartoons.
There is a LOT of jargon in that hobby, an overwhelming amount really, which Jonathan patiently walked me through.
If I don’t even know the correct term for the hobby, and I am looking at pictures of cool pew-pew-pew fighting robots (apparently they are not even robots – who knew?), is there any point in telling me your kits are Perfect Grade versus Master Grade and how much more “articulation” you offer?
The products vary a huge amount in price and it is not at all obvious why one kit might be 100 times the price of another almost identical appearing guy. Comparing specifications leaves you no wiser.
Sales Copywriting Truth: People Buy on Emotion and Justify With Logic
People buy a new product based on emotion more than logic. In fact, people often forget why they purchased and then their subconscious rationalizes the decision.
On Twitter, I had a whole discussion about this when someone claimed that they had NEVER purchased ANYTHING due to advertising. In their entire lives.
This, in my not-so-humble opinion, is bull hockey.
Advertising and marketing are simply psychology put into practice. Anyone who has gone to see a movie because they enjoyed the trailer for it has been influenced by advertising. Just the fact we had the discussion on Twitter implies to me that marketing works.
The Power of Benefits in Copywriting
Benefits speak to our needs, wants, desires, fears, lusts, hates, and our joy.
The old saying is true, I don’t want a drill I want to hang my picture up.
But once you have decided you need to solve a problem or achieve something, and you have worked out what process and ingredients might work for you, THEN you will start comparing price, features, logistics, and timing.
How many times have you paid extra to get something on Amazon with fast delivery rather than the same thing, cheaper on eBay?
Did you ever buy something in a tiny package at the nearby Dollar Store even though Costco likely has the item in bulk which would save money in the long term?
When you buy furniture, do you start with the size or with the design? Does it depend on where the furniture is going to go and what the purpose is?
What I Recommend for Your Sales Copy
My answer is to do both. Write up the features AND the benefits.
Tell people exactly what they will get, the outcome to expect, AND how you deliver on that promise.
Even better if in doing so you can introduce how you are different from the competition!
Benefits Vs Features: Bottom Line
Find out what your prospect is thinking.
Speak to where your most-wanted target customer is at RIGHT NOW, and give them the information they need, in the language they use.
Heck, give the information they don’t even know they need.
Then take them to the next step in their journey.