Sell Benefits, Not Features

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This has got to be one of the biggest “newbie” mistakes small business owners make. When you start a business at some point you will very likely create a brochure or a website or a flyer that will be designed to sell your product or service. When that time comes you will have to very quickly learn how to write compelling sales copy and this is where the mistake occurs.

As Perry Marshall in his free e-course about writing an effective whitepaper says:

Why is it better to offer problem-solving information than a straight sales pitch?

Because: Nobody who bought a drill wanted a drill.
They wanted a hole.

Therefore, if you sell drills, you should advertise information about making holes, not about drills!

I love this example. It sums up perfectly the principle about selling solutions to problems, providing a scratch to an itch and focusing on how your product or service can help *other* people.

So many new business owners will write sales materials thinking too much within their business using thoughts from their own head. It makes sense for a new business owner to do this because they are so immersed in what they do, they want to tell everyone about it from the view of the business. The problem is every tom, dick and joe out there feels the same about what they do and their business, so from a customer’s point of view there is very little differentiation. I don’t know about you but I prefer to have an edge over the competition.

The key is to think about the solutions and benefits your product provides and make sure they are prominent in every sales pitch you make. If you are a physical trainer you sell big muscles and improved fitness. If you are an events manager you sell good times and unique once in a lifetime experience. If your sell sports cars you sell luxury, envy and power.

My first online business was about proofreading essays for university students (www.BetterEdit.com). I could have stated how amazing our editors are, how much experience they have, where they studied and what qualifications they have, but that would not have been as effective as selling better grades. Students want a proofreader so they can get better results at school. I do include details about editor qualifications on my website but I don’t lead with that as the main sales pitch. The pitch is all about the benefit to the customer, not how amazing the product is.

Next time you write sales copy for your business make sure you are thinking how you benefit your customers and lead with the solution to the problem as your main sales angle.

Yaro

Yaro Starak is an Internet business and blogging expert. He runs the successful Internet business blog - http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com and teaches about how to make money from blogging at http://www.blogmastermind.com.

You can contact Yaro at - http://ReplytoYaro.com
About Yaro

Yaro Starak is an Internet business and blogging expert. He runs the successful Internet business blog - http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com and teaches about how to make money from blogging at http://www.blogmastermind.com.

You can contact Yaro at - http://ReplytoYaro.com

Comments

  1. Dion Kramer says

    A simple yet crucial point.

    Thank you for the reminder Yaro.

  2. Thanks for the comment Dion, it’s good to know people are reading this blog!

  3. Again another good article Yaro,

    I am actually doing this for my latest business venture and it is really beneficial to all businesses to do this sort of thing effectively.

    When i was originally planning out what i wanted to say and how i wanted to present it i thought about my customers, the kinds of problems they face and how my business could help them and really that is always a great way to write for your customers.

    Thanks for another awesome article

    Luc

  4. Great post and invaluable information for newbies.

    Reminding people of how your product or service will benefit them is a crucial element to the sales making process.

    Tim

  5. I am indeed impressed with the simplicity and usefulness of this article. I have been very sucessful in a tiny niche market. I realize after reading this that at least part of my sucess is probably luck.
    I am now ready to consciously use ideas like these to increase my domination of anger management training and material worldwide.

  6. Hi George, thank you for your comments.

    Interesting niche you have in Anger Management. My mother, as a counsellor, gets clients that need help dealing with anger. It appears to be a niche where a lot of people need help.

  7. Jim Kukral says

    I like that analogy as well. Good stuff, thanks.

  8. Here’s one KEY way of looking at this:

    Feature: What it does
    Advantage: What it does for the prospect
    Benafit: What it meens to the prospect!

    A lot of people confuse the advantage and the benafit, but there is a big difference.

    As a copywriter this is golden stuff.

    Here’s an example:

    Chair:

    Feature: has 4 legs, a seat, and a back on it.

    Advantage: Allows you to sit.

    Benefit: Let’s you relax after a long day at work while you sit back and have a conversation about the day with your loved ones. Enjoy the finest of meals while you are resting your back and recouping for another day on the job…etc.

    See what I’m saying?

    Feature…Advantage…Benefit.

    -Dave

  9. Thanks Dave, good illustration and a nice way to mentally breakdown what you are selling to determine the benefits to use in sales materials.

  10. Hi Chris, head on over to http://www.copyblogger.com by Brian Clark. He’s a mate of mine and his blog is about copywriting. You should find some good resources there.

    Yaro

  11. Hi! My name is Chris and I work at Help.com. One of our members posted a question and after reading your blog I thought you might be able to provide some expert advice. The question was: “I need to write a flyer that will work and bring in customers?” Do you have any suggetions for good books that teach copywriting?

  12. Yaro,I have been interviewed for a major article on Anger Management to appear in the Sunday London Times in mid July. I would like some suggestions on how I might maximize the use of this incredible P.R.

    Thanks

  13. Hey George – Congratulations on landing the newspaper article. I suggest you ask your question again in the forums so the entire community can give you some feedback –

    Link: Yaro’s Forums

  14. The message is as loud as a thunderclap. As my front-end development business evolves, I realize that more and more my objective is clear: bringing ROI and value and benefits right into focus. I’m always amazed at the level of success product or service vendors who emphasize features and long-winded technical information over value, and I wonder how much potential business they’ve lost by leaving the demonstration and explanation of value to the chance of word-of-mouth referrals, rather than laying it out and whalloping the target audience over the head with it in compelling, clear sales collateral.

    This article confirms what I suspected and knew already and also shows me where I need to focus my energies as a consultant for front end in general. Thanks for taking the time!

  15. To me, it’s very simple…though my big time clients NEVER got it.

    Features are you telling me about a car engine.
    Benefits are you telling me how fast I can grab a latte with my new engine.

    Dumb clients.

    -kevin

  16. We’re totally committed to the FAB concept. However, converting features to benefits is a long job. Do you know of an organisation that could take our website and convert the features into benefits? We’ve started, and it takes ages. We don’t mind paying.

  17. Rob – Sorry, no I don’t know any companies that specialize in converting features to benefits, but I expect any respected marketing firm could consult on that issue.

  18. Actually Rob, have you tried a copywriter? That’s pretty much their job. If you find a good one who knows you industry and target market well then you’re definitely onto a winner.

    If they don’t know your market well but you know they’re good at what they do, then I’d suggest you teach them about your market and industry before they go about their job.

  19. I think your Perry Marshall example is wrong. You definitely sell features with a drill. You’re looking for performance. Drills don’t make holes, bits do. When you sell bits you discuss the hole AND the features of the bit to facilitate that hole.

    The hole is not the point – I can use a nail to make a hole.
    But the “experience of making that hole” with the comfort grip, multiple speeds, quick change chuck, cordless model in a snazzy orange colour and built in MP3 player. That experience is branding, plain and simple.

    _________________

    A basic rule of thumb and this goes for any type of selling is to simply step into the shoes of the buyer and ask the question – what’s in it for me? If your sales material doesn’t answer that question for the buyer, there will be nothing compelling for them to embrace.

    Ed

  20. Hi Yaro,
    I once worked for a company that had “Benefits” in its title, but they were more into the ‘drill’ than ‘hole’ approach to meeting client expectations. I think you can really learn a lot about your business when you try to sell less tangible benefits, like increased self-esteem and greater acceptance of change. That really gets you thinking about your clients needs!

  21. Great thoughts Yaro,
    The whole question of benefits can’t be stressed enough but in order to nail them effectively, benefits must be looked at from the customers point of view.
    It sounds easy at first to think from the customers point of view BUT when it comes down to actually doing it you have to intentionally change your frame of reference.
    We often know ourselves and what we value and can inadvertantly think all the world are just like us and fall into the trap of providing benefits we would like rather than those a customer might like.
    An example of this from our own business would be loading of financial information. Because this is such an easy task for us, we never thought it would be valuable to our clients. We found out after bitter experience that this was valued more than some of our educational material. The fact that clients could forget about the mundane loading of their figures was a major benefit to them!! Sounded wrong to us at first but experience has proved it correct!!

  22. I’m always amazed at the level of success product or service vendors who emphasize features and long-winded technical information… It appears to be a niche where a lot of people need help…

  23. Looks good and newbies should learn from it. Most important thing is the satisfaction of your customer.