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Sales Lesson #1: Benefits Are More Important Than Features

September 27, 2010


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One of the oldest tricks in the marketing book is that benefits are more important than features.  It’s also one of the things that most businesses get wrong.

The reason many people get it wrong is that most people are enamored with their own product.  They love everything about their offering, especially the features.  They love that their computer has a 15.6″ screen, 250 GB of hard-drive space, and 2 GB of memory.  Sure, this information is important; it’s just not the most important.

In selling, what’s most important is benefits, not features.  Benefits illustrate to customers what the product can do for them.  Instead of saying that a computer has “x” amount of hard-drive space, you can say the hard-drive is so big it holds up to 10,000 pictures.  Instead of talking about “x” amount of memory, you can say that a computer runs up to five applications at a time without slowing down.  At some point, feature information stops having any meaning.  The average person doesn’t know the difference between 100 GB and 200 GB.  They know one is bigger than the other, but they don’t know how much they need.

I’m not saying not to talk about the features of your product.  Features have to be included in the product description because during the buying process, people always compare features between products.  What I’m saying is that in the beginning of the selling process, benefits are much more powerful than features.  Benefits help you to stand out from the crowd.  Benefits make your product sizzle.  So next time your trying to sell something, remember that features are good, but benefits make the difference.


From → Marketing Tips

  1. So is the big goal here to reframe features as benefits, so that the reason for buying the product becomes more concrete? Sounds like good advice!

  2. Yes, finding a way to frame features as benefits is one of the goals. Another goal is to help customers picture the benefit of a product instead of trying to sell them through a list of features.

    Thanks for the comment! Let me know if you have any other questions.

    • Yesterday I saw a great example of this. A website offering online backup for computer files said this in their ad: “Picture yourself losing all of your pictures; then picture yourself getting all of those pictures back.” They could have talked about how easy their service is to use and how many gigabytes of memory you get. But highlighting benefits the way this company did is much more effective.

  3. Paul permalink

    Although tangential to this idea, I think Geico’s “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on your car insurance”, sort of capitalizes on this idea. Rather than stating statistics of how many people use Geico, or how you’re abstractly in “good hands”, they put their message into concrete, succinct, and understandable facts. (Nevertheless, I use State Farm)

    Am I wrong?

    • That’s a great example. The customer knows exactly how he’s going to benefit and what’s involved atter one short sentence. Everyone wants to save 15%, and it’s a lot more defined than, “We’re cheaper, buy from us. And don’t forget, we’re less expensive.” Also, without knowing it only takes 15 minutes, most people will decide it’s not worth the hassle. That’s actually another lesson — identifying key hurdles you have to overcome to get people to buy. Actually, that can be my next sales lesson post…. Thanks, Paul! 🙂

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