Dorothy M. Tuma
Last week, we looked at the difference between features and benefits. In a nutshell, features tell your customers what your product or service is. They are about your product or service. Benefits tell your customers what they will gain because of your product/service features. Benefits describe what your product or service does for customers. From the e-mails I received last week, it looked like at least a few readers were finding it easy to identify features, but difficult to come up with benefits. Below are some suggestions that should help make the process easier.
One way to determine whether the items you identified are features or benefits is to feed them into the benefits test sentence below:
Customers who use ___________________ (fill in product/service name), are ____________________ (state what customers are or will become as a result of using your product/service).
In last week’s article we identified “All our teachers are highly qualified” as a features phrase. “100 percent of our PLE candidates score 5 points or less” referred to a benefit. Now try filling in the test sentence using both phrases:
1. Features phrase:
Children who attend St. Mary’s Girls Boarding School, are taught by highly qualified teachers. This sentence immediately begs the question “So what?” from customers. Asking that question about each response you come up with will make it easier to see the benefits that your product or service features deliver. So what if children are taught by highly qualified teachers?
Why should parents care about their children being taught by highly qualified teachers? If the response is: “Because highly qualified teachers are good,” a parent would still want to know how good teachers translate into benefits for their children. Good at or good for what? Keep on asking yourself the question “So what?” until your response describes what happens for the customer. My response to the above “So what?” would be: “Good at preparing all their pupils to score 5 points or less on the PLE.”
Children who attend St. Mary’s Girls Boarding School, will score 5 points or less on the PLE. That immediately tells a parent what will happen to children who attend St. Mary’s. The key benefit that I would consider promoting in all marketing communications would be a version of: “Score 5 points or less on the PLE.” Before selecting the actual benefit and wording however, I would test various versions with parents. They would help me choose the most compelling benefit and phrase.
Below are some additional examples illustrating how to use the benefits test sentence:
• Customers who wear our clothes are always the best dressed people in the room.
• Customers who attend our public speaking workshops will be the most articulate speakers wherever they go.
The benefits test sentence and the question “So what?” should make it easier to see the benefits customers derive from your product/service features.
Next week: Why the difference between features and benefits matters.