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Benefits Sell, Features Don’t—and Here Is Why

Benefits Sell, Features Don’t—and Here Is Why

By Pat Flynn on

This is a guest post from Daniel from Daily Blog Tips.

quarter-inch-holeIf you are interested in Internet marketing, copywriting or even marketing in general, you’ve probably already heard the saying “benefits sell, features don’t”, right? It basically states that if you want to sell something, your marketing messages should focus on the benefits of your product to potential customers, and not on its features.

Not everyone understands this concept, however, and that is probably the reason why people forget to apply it to their copy or marketing material.

So let’s explain how it all works.

The main reason why features don’t sell is because customers don’t care about them. Sure, they might use a list of features to decide between two similar products, but the features per se won’t make the customer want to buy the product.

We could go a step further and say that customers don’t even care about the product itself. They don’t want to buy it because it is a cool product, because it is the latest model or anything like that. They don’t want to own it. They just want to use the product to accomplish a certain task or result. In other words, the product is not the end but the means to an end.

Theodore Levitt was a very famous professor at the Harvard Business School, and he used to summarize this concept to his classes with the following example:

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

We can extrapolate this notion to as many products as we want.

People don’t want to buy web hosting, they want their websites online and accessible to web visitors.

People don’t want to buy cooking ebooks, they want to invite their friends and relatives to dinner and have a good time.

People don’t want to buy light bulbs. They want to be able to work or read at night.

That is why benefits sell and features don’t. The feature, or the product itself, is the first part of the examples we used above. The benefit is the second part.

As we mentioned before, in a sense customers don’t even want to own the product. They just want to “hire” it to accomplish a certain task or solve a certain problem. If you focus your marketing on that task or problem – instead of focusing on the product – your message will resonate very strongly in the customer’s head, and that is what will trigger the sale.

Want a practical example? Suppose that you are a bit over-weight, and that you are shopping around the web for a good weight-loss ebook. You then come across ebook A, with the following list of points describing it:

  • 156 pages of pure content!
  • Images and illustrations to illustrate the concepts.
  • Many diets you can choose from.
  • A complete list of cardio and strength exercises.

After a while you then come across ebook B, with the following list of points describing it:

  • Start losing weight in the next 30 minutes!
  • 20 exercises that will melt that abdominal fat away.
  • Discover how to lose 4 pounds every week with proper nutrition.
  • Tone your muscles while losing all that fat.

Which ebook would you be more likely to purchase? Probably the second one because its description is focused on the benefits you’ll get from it, while the first ebook focused on the features.

The next time you are writing your sales copy or working on a marketing campaign, remember to focus on the hole and not on the drill, because that is what your customers are looking for!

Daniel is the owner of Daily Blog Tips. He is also the author of the Make Money Blogging ebook, which you can download for free by signing up to his newsletter.

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