A few days ago, I was watching a video from one of Copy Hackers’ courses. It got me thinking about a basic content marketing concept that’s rarely discussed but highly essential: features versus benefits.
Although closely related, features and benefits are used for very different purposes, and it’s crucial that you know the difference between the two.
What Are Features?
Think of the last time you looked at a tech product online. Chances are that after the first couple sentences, the product page included a long list of specifications such as RAM, charging speed and screen quality. All three of those aspects can be categorized as features.
Essentially, features are the attributes of the product or service you’re selling. For example, if you’re selling an electric toothbrush, a list of its features will likely answer the following questions:
- What material is it made out of?
- What color is it?
- Where was it made?
- Is it battery-powered? If so, are batteries included?
- Does it need to be charged?
- How long does it take to charge?
- How many speed settings does it have?
- How much plaque does it remove?
What Are Benefits?
In contrast to features, benefits explain how a product or service will impact a customer. For a tech product, those might include a more efficient workflow, improved internet connectivity for faster browsing or increased storage space to store more of your photos.
Or, keeping with our electric toothbrush example, a list of benefits might include:
- Fresher breath.
- Whiter teeth.
- Healthier gums.
- Reduced risk of gingivitis, cavities or enamel loss.
- Brighter smile.
Which Should You Focus On?
Whether your content focuses primarily on features or benefits depends entirely on whom you’re addressing.
Why? Because your audience’s level of awareness directly impacts the approach you should take to your content.
This idea was defined and popularized by Eugene M. Schwartz, who was arguably the most influential copywriter of the 20th century. Essentially, there are five levels of customer awareness ranging from unaware to aware.
This handy graphic from CI-Group illustrates all five levels, plus the marketing approach that works best for each end of the spectrum:
So, content that’s targeted toward customers who are mostly unaware of your brand and products should emphasize benefits more than features.
For instance, a Facebook status you post could say:
“Want to find out how [company] used [product] to reduce operational expenditure by 25 percent? Check out our new blog post.”
On the other hand, content that’s targeted toward customers who are more aware of your brand and products should include plenty of features.
For instance, a white paper you send out to your email list subscribers could contain a detailed list of features, as well as a thorough, fact-based explanation of how those features can lead to benefits.
The bottom line is that both features and benefits have their place in your content, but you’ll fail to maximize your impact on customers if you don’t know which to highlight.
For more on content marketing and targeting your audience sign up for our mailing list and get instant access to your content strategy blueprint.
Were you already aware of the importance of features versus benefits? Do you find one to be more effective than the other? Let me know in the comments!