The Benefits of Benefits

If I can summarize my approach to marketing in just three words, it would be this: Benefits beat features.

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to sell water or change the world. Focus on the benefits of your product, service, or idea to make an impact with your audience.

A feature simply describes what something does. A benefit describes what it does for the person using it. Here’s a simple example:

  • Feature: 12-megapixel camera
  • Benefit: Better photos

I gave this some thought yesterday when talking to a friend who serves on the same nonprofit board as me. We’re both advocating for an important change to the way a committee is composed. My friend hasn’t gotten far by explaining how many people will be on the board, who appoints them, and so on.

You’ve gotta focus on the benefits, I told him.

Our proposal has a huge advantage over the status quo. It will promote more diversity on the committee and discourage any one person from exerting too much control over its direction.

Those are the benefits the board needs to know, I said. Not how our proposal works, but what it will achieve. And what it achieves is a stronger, more resilient organization that can navigate a vast range of challenges by harnessing the collective experience, skillsets, and thinking styles of a spectrum of passionate industry professionals.

The board itself benefits greatly from the contributions of many different individuals. Why shouldn’t one of its most important committees have the same advantage?

Features are facts. Benefits are facts with resonance. Use them to engage your audience, spark their imaginations, and spur them to action. You, like me, will benefit when you emphasize benefits.

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