Features and benefits and how to untangle them

Huh, features and benefits. That old chestnut. It’s often seen as a conundrum, but knowing how to write around ’em can be a gift that keeps on giving.

If you’re a manufacturer or product manager, the wonderful world of features is where you like to live and breathe. Okay, wallow. You get off on specs and long lists of attributes, aspects, particulars, lots of numbers and acronyms.

Product people are amazing. Without their attention to detail we wouldn’t have so many fab products.

More often than not a product person will understand the headline benefits of a product they’re producing or managing, but they unravel when trying to articulate the benefits in a compelling way.

That’s when they usually hire a copywriter. Wrestling with features and benefits is bread and butter to a copywriter.

Or a scone. With jam on top. And maybe a splodge of cream.

A scone will benefit from a bit jam and cream.

Some people like to put the cream on first. Not me. nom.

Writing benefit-driven copy

I thought of an example the other day while writing a blog about creating your own brand on Amazon for Repricer. It’s a good, raw simple one, so I’ll repurpose the example here.

Features are all about your product and benefits are all about your customers

So here’s how to write about your product with its benefits to the customer in mind.

Stand back and think about what will make the customer buy your product. This is not hard if you get in the right zone. It’s okay to sit and stare at your product a while. Sometimes it can help to actually use it for its purpose.

Okay, let’s pretend the product you’re trying to sell is a mug. You know, the thing you put coffee or tea or hot chocolate in.

The feature-speak: 300ml Lidded Mug with Large Handle.

Well, wow. They’ll be a sales rush for that. Not.

Okay, let’s take those sterile and uninspiring features and turn them into benefits that actually mean something to the customer.

Ask yourself this: how is your customer’s life going to be improved by buying and using your mug? What are the advantages to them?

Ready?

Now how about this to be included somewhere in the product description. This mug’s large capacity, that’s above the size of your average mug, means you can have more to drink and you don’t have to keep re-filling so often. It’s even got a lid to keep your coffee or tea hot longer, and its large handle means you can hold it when wearing gloves in the cold.

See how much more engaging and compelling that is for the customer? Indeed, what you’re doing is you’re talking about those more-engaging benefits rather than just about yawny product features.

In writing about benefits you’re articulating the value to the customer and helping to drive those sales.

Fun, eh? No, I mean it. Get in the habit of thinking about products in terms of benefits and your writing – and product – will come alive.

Finally, I’ve also reminded myself while writing this of that oft-used how-to-sell quote used in sales training:

“Don’t talk to me about your grass seed, talk to me about my lawn.”

If you’ve got any good examples, do share.

Got to go or the scones will burn.

Thanks for being here.

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How to write depends on the point

So, how to write and not sound like an oaf. Be careful of the seemingly humble point.

It’s not just a sentence-tidy when writing. A full stop can make your writing sound bloody-minded, assertive, curt, arrogant and rude.

It can affect your tone of voice or the way you’re saying something. This makes it something you need to handle with care when it comes to writing copy.

Fragile: handle how you write using the full stop with care.

It can make your writing clear

And it could make what you’re writing sound final. Indeed, it can make what you’ve said in your writing a fait accompli.

No, wait, in fact it is a fait accompli. It is, if you think about it, and don’t think it’s just me showing off my limited French.

And when you’re talking about massively long and tiresome sentences that go on and on, and on a bit more, before finally staggering and lurching to a halt, it’s a relief. Often a welcome relief.

Stand back for that clamouring question.

So what is the point?

Yes, yes, we know it’s a little punctuation mark, usually roundish, which makes it a dot. I guess you could say it’s the impression of a point, where the point is like the point of a pencil. Or spot or fleck or speck.

Woah, now before you start, let’s leave aside the zillions of other points in the universe like ones to do with hunting, sailing, decimalisation, advance guards, cricket, red setters and printing and just concentrate on this one here: .

And anyway, this is my blog and I decide what I write in it. So there. (Gosh, it works doesn’t it, if you’re now feeling a bit riled. Or is it roiled.)

And, and, if you’re American, your word for point is, anyway, period. Or full stop. And let’s please not go into all the other periods we can think of and try and stay on track. Got it? Good. See what I did there?

Actually, think I prefer slam dunk to fait accompli.

Anyhow, our point, our period, has more aliases than a prolific spy. Like stop, full stop, full point.

It is, in essence, regardless of how you write, most commonly a mark that shows the end of a declarative sentence in your copywriting. Wow, that took a while getting out, but got there in the end.

But my favourite use of it is, oddly, when it isn’t a mark at all but spoken instead, as in, “We aren’t going to the party, full stop [or period].”

By now you’ll be asking yourself what’s the point of this article.

I rest my case and am going for a lie down.

Three points about points for you

  1. Don’t have a double space after your points in copy that you’ve written. Why? Because it’s passé and out of date are reasons enough.
  2. Do enjoy using a point to make a statement of a question when you write. Now that isn’t too difficult, is it.
  3. If you want a holiday from them altogether, pick up a copy of Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann.

Thanks for being here.

Gx

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