Benefits or features? Which one is more important?
If you’re going to be a great copywriter (and as you are reading this, you clearly want to be) you need to be able to translate the age-old techniques of face-to-face selling onto the page (or screen if you’re writing online campaigns). The single biggest issue you need to confront is getting used to using the B-word rather than the F-word.
B-word = “benefits”
F-word = “features”
People just starting out as copywriters (and even some who are quite a long way down the road) tend to focus on features, not benefits. And that’s bad news. Why?
Because the reader isn’t interested in features. Oh sure, they’ll tell you they are; nobody is going to make a purchase without checking out all the features, right?
But it’s the benefits that make the sale happen.
People involved in making what you’re selling are so close to the product, all they see are features. Automotive engineers enter that profession because they love engines, gearboxes, relays, kit. That’s what turns them on and it’s why modern cars are so stuffed with gizmos. And, surprise surprise, that’s what they want to talk about.
It’s the same in any business. I’ve written direct mail promotions for conference companies for around ten years. And the instinct of the client is often to cut the benefits copy in the brochure to squeeze in as much as possible about the agenda. Conference producers think it’s the agenda that interests punters most. But they’re wrong. People want to know WHY they should buy not WHAT they’re buying.
Do you want proof? OK. How about this:
A man—Jim—wants to be sexually attractive to women. If you sell him your hand-stitched leather brogues on the basis that they’ll work that magic, he’ll buy the shoes. If you sell him aftershave on the same basis, ditto. Sports cars? Toned abs? Hair transplants? Meet the need and you make the sale.
To return to the point at the beginning of this section, a copy that talks too much about features is written for the company/ manufacturer/producer, not the customer/prospect/reader.
You have to write for your reader and only your reader. Doing anything else risks losing them through boredom.
You have to try harder than any other kind of writer because your reader generally hasn’t asked you to write to them (and even if they have, they aren’t very committed to reading your copy).
Remember that your reader is a human being with all that entails: hopes, fears, desires, vices. Do your research. Go and find out what your reader is like. Or use your imagination.
B2B copywriting is still copywriting. And you’re still selling to people. Forget this at your peril. Benefits make the sale. Features allow your reader to rationalize their decision to buy.