The Penultimate Word

Features vs. Benefits: And the Winner Is …

One of my favorite quotes about marketing is from renowned copywriter John Caples:

The most frequent reason for unsuccessful advertising is advertisers who are so full of their own accomplishments (the world’s best seed!) that they forget to tell us why we should buy (the world’s best lawn!).

Basically, Mr. Caples is referring to the difference between features and benefits. Features relate to the product, the service, or the company; benefits are all about the customer. For example, customers don’t buy term life insurance; they buy peace of mind. So, as business owners and marketers, we need to appeal to the customer’s self-interest and talk about benefits … what’s in it for them.

Take this Features-to-Benefits quiz to see how adept you are at identifying benefits.

Below are the features of an index card file box. How many of these features can you turn into benefits?

Can you come up with benefits for this file box?

Feature:  Color – black
Benefit:  ?

Feature:  Material – plastic
Benefit:  ?

Feature:  Dimensions – 6.5 x 4.875 x 5.25
Benefit:  ?

Feature:  Hinged lid
Benefit:  ?

How did you do? Were you able to come up with at least one benefit for each feature? What was the most unusual benefit you came up with?

Try this exercise with your own products and services to determine their individual selling points. And remember … ALWAYS tell your customers why they should buy.


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