Many small businesses that don’t have the support of a dedicated marketing team struggle to create effective marketing copy.

In my experience, copy that doesn’t resonate usually falls into one or more of the categories below:

  1. It’s too generic, talking to anyone and everyone rather than a specific person or group of people. In other words, it doesn’t grab attention because the reader doesn’t feel like it applies to them.
  2. It talks endlessly about ‘we’, the business, but forgets about ‘you’, the client.
  3. It lists the features of a product or service but not why these features matter, i.e. the benefits of buying them.

In this week’s blog, I wanted to talk a bit more about point number three and using features and benefits (FAB) to sell.

Features vs. Benefits

When promoting a product or service, it’s tempting to just roll out a list of features. After all, won’t this help potential clients see what they’ll get for their money?

Yes, and no.

Features are factual. They’re a statement or checklist about what a product or service does or can do. They provide useful information, especially when the client is making side-by-side comparisons of two different suppliers or products.

But what features don’t do is elicit an emotional response from the buyer. They don’t show the end result, what can be accomplished, by using a product or service. They don’t sell the hope of a better future.

This is the role of benefits.

Benefits show why a feature will make the buyer’s life better by solving a problem or meeting a need.

Selling the benefits

If we look at Trainer Talk online as an example, we can see that the annual membership package includes the following features:

  • Monthly Online Business Development Clinics
  • Business Growth Webinars
  • Expert Interview Library
  • Resources Library
  • Members-only Facebook group
  • Business promotions
  • Trainer Talk Live events
  • Access to me
  • Discount for paying annually

But why do these features matter? Well, let’s look at them another way, through the lens of their benefits:

  • Monthly online business development clinics enable trainers anywhere in the world to come together to ask questions about growing their businesses and get advice from people who understand their background. This means that trainers can prevent costly mistakes, save time that they would otherwise spend looking for solutions, and get advice that’s tailored to their business so it’s super relevant.
  • Business growth webinars give in-depth information about topics that are relevant to training businesses. This enables trainers to grow their companies, increase their fees and target their ideal clients, benefitting their personal and professional lives with better incomes and work that they enjoy.
  • The Expert Interview Library lets trainers learn from professionals who have come before them and have expertise and insights to share. This can prevent mistakes and put them on the right path sooner than if they were going it alone.
  • The Resources Library is a way of sharing the combined knowledge of the Trainer Talk community and giving people resources they can tap straight into without having to search for them. This is a great time saver and learning tool that helps trainers grow profitable businesses delivering training that they love.
  • The Members-only Facebook group gives people access to a professional network that you can tap into from anywhere in the world at any time of day or night. The group is targeted exclusively to trainers so you can get advice from people who understand your business without having to wait for a networking meeting in a month’s time. Again, this means that members can grow their businesses to be more profitable by finding new clients, developing their training services and avoiding common mistakes. They can also get advice when they need it, not when a situation or opportunity has been and gone.
  • Paying for an annual membership offers a saving of over £40 compared to the monthly membership option. This is money that the Trainer Talk member could spend on advertising, marketing or other areas of the business while increasing their income overall thanks to the actionable advice offered in the membership club.

As we can see, benefits are all about why life will be better if you make the purchase.

Ask this one question

My secret to doing drawing benefits out of features is to ask the following question:

“So what?”  

Trainer Talk members get access to me through the club.

Well, so what? Why does that matter to prospective members?

I’ve been a trainer throughout my career and have spent the last nine years supporting freelance trainers to have successful businesses.

So what?

I know what works and what doesn’t.

So what?

The ‘so what’ of this example – i.e. the benefit – is that my knowledge and experience can save Trainer Talk members time and money by steering them away from mistakes towards what will be profitable and effective for their business.

This will help them to feel more secure (personally, financially and professionally), give them greater flexibility to attract the right clients and build their reputations, and take away the risk from freelancing for a better work/life balance.

Another way to frame this question is to imagine the target audience asking, “What’s in it for me?”

Remember, people don’t want to know what a product or service can do, they want to know what it can do for them. In my experience, that’s the secret of marketing copy that sells.

Features and benefits go together

Features should always be supported by their benefits, both in your marketing copy and when you’re talking to clients.

If you have a clear understanding of the benefits of every aspect of your services, you’ll be better able to:

  • Create marketing that resonates with your audience
  • Set fees based on a clear understanding of the value you offer to clients
  • Negotiate contracts based on the many demonstrable benefits of hiring you
  • Develop training courses that are relevant, effective and provide tangible outcomes

A great exercise is to think about your different audiences – e.g. clients, stakeholders, trainees – and turn your list of features into benefits that relate to them.

Keep asking that all-important ‘So what?’ until you’ve teased out the outcomes of every feature.

Once you become familiar with talking in terms of benefits and outcomes, you’ll find your audience will be much more engaged with what you have to say.

How FAB-u-lous is your marketing copy? Are you selling features and benefits or concentrating too much on features alone? Do you buy features or find yourself drawn to marketing copy that captures the benefits of a product or service? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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