Benefits Sell, Features Don’t

If you hope to sell, you need to convince people of the benefits of your product or service. Features are interesting but they don't get people to splash cash.

Andrew McDonald

5/20/20222 min read

Successful marketing is dependent on several factors. However, many small businesses get it wrong from the start by focusing on features. Nobody is going to buy from you, at least not consistently, because of who or what you are.

People buy because they believe your product or service is somehow going to make their lives better. They want to know what benefits you will bring them.

There is a slight caveat. Reputation is a powerful sales tool. However, even when a business has a good name, it’s still the benefits, rather than the features, which are selling. Positive brand awareness acts like a guarantee of a client benefiting in some way.

Think of it like this. You know a local restaurant has a good reputation for providing great food and service at a reasonable price. You decide to go there. Why? Simply because you’re going to benefit from experiencing a good meal served by friendly and efficient staff.

That the chef trained at a top school or won Michelin stars is relevant. However, only to an extent. It’s that these things bring a certain guarantee of quality that you care about, not the certificates on his office wall.

A successful restaurateur knows it is the benefits of her business which she needs to market. That’s why advertising for restaurants generally consists of photos of beautifully cooked food or people enjoying their evening out. Seldom do you see a picture of qualifications from chef school. Benefits, not features.

That’s not to say the chef isn’t important to the marketing process. Without him, there is no restaurant to advertise. No delicious-looking meals to photograph.

It doesn’t mean the service staff aren’t vital either. Even a restaurant offering good meals needs friendly and efficient waiters and waitresses to maximise their reputation. However, it’s how they make clients feel that is the focus of good publicity, not their training and experience.

Features are worthy of inclusion in your marketing. However, they need to be crafted, so they appear as benefits.

Consider the following examples:

‘Our chef trained in a top culinary art college in Italy and worked in several restaurants in Milan prior to joining us.’

‘Taste the authentic flavours of Italy prepared by our chef who trained in a top Italian culinary art school and worked in Milanese restaurants.’

The first example only gave features. The second used those features to create a benefit-focused message. In essence, ‘if you come to our restaurant, you’re going to eat real Italian food’.

Which is more effective?

The first is dry. Yes, it’s possibly interesting, but the reader has to do the work to connect the facts about the chef to the idea of eating authentic Italian cuisine. A task that the publicity of your competitors maybe isn’t asking your clients to do for themselves.

On the other hand, the second gets the reader imagining what they might eat. Their mouths might have even started salivating. From there, it’s much easier to get them through the door and sitting at a table.

That is the key difference. Benefits sell, features don’t.