There isn't a business owner in the world who hasn't wrestled with the features vs. benefits dilemma tossed at them by well-intentioned marketing gurus. The funny thing is, as critical as the concept may be, I've found that not one in 10 businesses really understands the difference. And that's one of the main reasons most small-business marketing plan efforts don't work!
Most SOHO owners decide what business to start based on two factors: 1) what they're good at and like to do, and 2) what they assume possible customers will buy. Often those latter assumptions are correct, but small-business marketers also assume that prospects will understand why they should buy the product or service just because they've been told about it. Thus, business owners only communicate the features of their product or service to prospective customers and neglect to mention the benefits.
What Are Features?
Take a look at the list of features below, taken directly from current advertising and marketing materials.
50-number speed dial
One-click financial reports
Open 24 hours
Each is a feature-a factual statement about the product or service being promoted. But features aren't what entice customers to buy. That's where benefits come in. A benefit answers the question "What's in it for me?," meaning the feature provides the customer with something of value to them. So-and this is where most businesses go wrong-that must mean:
The benefit of a self-setting clock is convenience.
The benefit of 50-number speed dial is fewer keystrokes.
The benefits of one-click financial reports are immediate information and prepared statements for your accountant.
The benefit of custom programs is that they're designed just for you.
The benefit of a store open 24 hours is you can buy when you want.
The benefit of batteries included is the product is ready to use out of the box.
While these may seem like true benefits, they're really just elaborations on the features. So what is truly a benefit?