Buying something is an emotional process.
No matter the product or service, we buy to fill one of our deepest desires. We buy an accountant’s service for the security of knowing our money is being handled properly and legally. We buy a toothbrush to keep our bodies healthy so we can live longer with friends and family. We buy toilet paper to have clean and safe homes. We buy chocolate at the checkout counter to make us happy.
See, there is some emotional root at the bottom of every sale, regardless of how big or small it is. And these emotions, these motivations to buy, are closely linked with our perceived benefit from the purchase.
All products and services come with three things: features, advantages, and benefits. Each informs the other, and if you don’t include all three in your writing your copy won’t be as convincing as it could be.
I see each of these as a roadmap. Features help you understand the advantages, and the advantages help you understand the benefits. The benefits are what really make the final sale in the end, but you need to work your way through all three to get there and be convincing.
Features are the things that make a product unique or special. They are the noteworthy things that help the product stand out. In a lot of cases they are quantifiable.
As I’m typing this, my phone is charging through a USB cable connected to my laptop. Let’s look at the features of it:
- It’s about 2 feet long
- Millennial pink
- Rope-like cord
- From H&M
Features, frankly, aren’t all that interesting on their own. Simply listing them isn’t an effective way of marketing them because they need to be contextualized for your audience.
Contextualizing Features: Advantages
One way to contextualize the features of your product is to talk about the advantages of it, especially compared to your competition.
Let’s look back on my phone charger:
- Two feet long → Long enough to move around freely
- Millennial pink → Unique color
- Rope-like cord → Different texture from other cords in your purse
- From H&M → Cheaper than an Apple charger but still a trusted retailer
Advantages demonstrate what you can do with the product that you have, not just what it does overall. When you provide that context as a solution to some of the problems a potential lead might have, you’re working your way to making money.
A lot of people stop at the advantages of a product or service, and that’s a major mistake. You need to take it one step further and look at the benefits that the reader gets.
Benefits are the cherry on top of a successful marketing campaign. In writing, this is the time for you to paint a picture of your client’s life with the product.
Highlighting benefits is where the real creativity comes in. You want to make the customer imagine their life with this service. How much better will it be? How much more convenient? How much smarter, sexier, or stronger will they look with it?
Let’s see how we could do that with my pink phone charger. For this let’s keep in mind that the target client is young women like myself. We want to be stylish, are interested in the more minimalistic look, lose chargers often (hence why we are buying a new charger), and don’t have tons of extra money to spend on things.
- Two feet long → Long enough to move around freely → You’ll be able to charge your phone while laying in bed on a Saturday morning—no need to lay in an awkward position to scroll through Instagram while you’re plugged in.
- Millennial pink → Unique color → Stand out from the crowd with this fun and flirty color. Not only will it set you apart from the rest, it will also help you distinguish the cord in your purse.
- Rope-like cord → Different texture from other cords in your purse → It’s so annoying to dig through your bag to find your phone charger, pulling out cord after cord. This rope-like texture not only looks more interesting than other cords out there, but it also allows you to immediately feel if you have the right one.
- From H&M → Cheaper than an Apple charger but still
a trusted retailer → H&M puts pride in its products, and this cord is no exception. Save your money by buying our top-of-the-line charger...and maybe reward yourself with a glass of wine later!
Do you see how painting a picture of how the client’s life will be improved with the product instantly makes it more interesting to buy?
At the end of the day, going through the features, advantages, and benefits of a product will not only improve your understanding of it, it will also make it easier to market to your target audience.