Why benefits are more compelling than features

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Whatever we buy, there’s a reason behind it. Whether clothes, food, or business supplies. Even now when we’re all stuck at home. Webcam sales went through the roof. This wasn’t because of the HD capabilities or sound quality. It was because people wanted to be connected in a separated world.

Current restrictions aside, people primarily book a holiday to plan special times with family or friends. Or to mentally relax. Not simply because of the hotel facilities or the quality of food in the restaurant.

Every buying decision has benefits. And in most instances, these stand between your product’s features and your reader buying the product.

You see, we buy something for the benefit it’ll give us. It’s what’s in it for us.

Your product might have great features too but failing to highlight the benefits leaves more work for your customer. The less they have to do, the more likely they are to get your message and buy your product. 

Defining features and benefits

First things first. I want to make sure you can see the difference between a feature and a benefit. Too many people wrap them up as one thing and miss an opportunity.

On my desk, I have a tube of Palmers hand cream. Typical girl. I can spot many features simply by reading the packaging:

  • It’s fast-absorbing
  • It contains Vitamin E
  • It contains no parabens

These are all great features. Well done Palmers. But what about the benefits? I can consider these from the features:

Fast absorbing – you can easily use it on-the-go.

Vitamin E –enhance your skin health (as Vitamin E is a known antioxidant that may prevent UV damage to your skin).

No parabens – you’re not damaging the environment with unnecessary chemicals. 

Rational and emotional benefits

Not wishing to complicate matters, it’s worth acknowledging two different types of benefit. I call them rational and emotional; others might say tangible and intangible. Here’s the difference…

Rational benefits solve a problem you might have. They’re logical and can be goal-oriented. In my hand cream example, I’d say that being able to use it on-the-go is a rational benefit.

In contrast, emotional benefits make you feel better in some way. Happier, more confident, relaxed, prepared…whatever you need to feel. The fact that the hand cream contains no parabens could be an emotional benefit for those who want to feel they’re protecting the environment. For me, it’s a reason I choose Palmers.

Can you see the difference?

Whilst in B2B markets, most benefits are rational, you’ll find emotional ones too. A business coaching company develops the confidence of managers and directors. A web design company can help you feel more professional about your business presentation.

Why bother with benefits at all?

Don’t get me wrong. Features can be important to communicate. Especially if your product is technically complex.

Features are the what and benefits are the why.

Another way of putting it…

People might not know in an instant, why the feature matters. They might not know how it’ll make a difference to their life and how it’ll solve the problem they have.

The purpose of benefits is to fill in the gap between your features and your reader ‘getting it’. By highlighting the main benefits, your reader can see more quickly how your product will help and why those features matter.

So what?

To find a benefit, ask ‘so what?’ after every feature:

It contains no parabens. So what? Your impact on the environment is less.

Another trick to help find the benefit is to place the word ‘which’ after your feature:

It contains Vitamin E, which… may prevent UV skin damage…which keeps your skin looking young.

You might also say ‘so what?’ or ‘which’ a few times. It gets more interesting that way!

A third way to find your benefits is to ask your customers. You might discover some values you'd never considered before.

Put simply, benefits get you closer to the point of purchase. It’s not a given, but you’ll know you’ve homed right in on the points that’ll make a difference to your reader. They don’t have to work it out for themselves.


I hope you’ll be able to spot your benefits now and use them in your copy. If you’d like a hand, please do get in touch. The benefit to you? Your copy will become more engaging to your audience, prompting more conversations and more sales.