One of the simplest and most game-changing things you can do for your copywriting is to change your focus from the features of your product or service to the benefits of it. Now, I’m not arguing entirely for one over the other, as they both play a very important role. However, if you want to convert shoppers into buyers, you have to understand the power of benefits in your copy.
Psychologically speaking, we buy based on emotion, and then later rationalize our purchases through logic. What that means is, we don’t necessarily buy the expensive $200 jeans. We buy the lifestyle they’re selling – sophistication, class, high fashion. How we feeeel when we’re wearing them. Oh so trés chic.
Brands that have effective sales pages, marketing campaigns, or product launches know about this powerful shift.
For that reason, Apple is often the subject of a good marketing case study. With the launch of the iPhone X, I couldn’t help but use them as an example here, too. I meannn…have you seen the commercial for the iPhone X?! It literally gives me chills. I think I may have even drooled the first time I saw it.
Whether you have or haven’t, for the purposes of this blog post, take roughly a minute or so and watch it (again)!
I have an iPhone 7+ that’s in perfect, working condition, yet that commercial still makes me want to go stand in early release lines and get that thing in my hands. It’s not just selling me another tech-gadget or device. It’s selling me the future. It’s selling me a whole new way of living, and a new lens for looking at the world. It’s showing me the benefits.
Here’s a second Apple video about the iPhone X that’s much more focused on the features. Take a minute or so and watch each this one, too
You can’t argue that both videos are high-quality and incredibly well done. No complaints there. What’s interesting to note, however, is that the second video takes you on a tour, giving you an in-depth understanding of all the new features in the iPhone X.
You think that would be the money maker, right? It’s absolutely fascinating, even if you’re not a techie or super into that stuff. Yet, it doesn’t necessarily have you grabbing your keys and running out the door to your local Apple store.
But the first video does.
The first video is created for general audiences and the average consumer who just wants to see what’s so special about the TENTH iPhone. They only want to know what’s in it for them…how will my life be different with the iPhone X, rather than the iPhone 5, 6, 7, or even 8 (and whatever happened to iPhone 9???). Why should I cough up more money for this?
We don’t necessarily care that it has a 5.8in Super Retina OLED screen. But we do care that it’s the toughest screen yet and provides us with superior, life-like images.
We might not get all that excited about Portrait mode but we love that it will make our selfies look like professional photos.
We might be confused about “secure authentication” but it’s pretty stinkin’ amazing that we can make payments with just a glance via FaceID.
Are you hearing the difference?
This Apple sales page lists most of the features on the left (important, yes), but it also lists the benefits on the right (how they’re actually relevant to us). Here’s a screenshot from the page:
That’s what everyone loves about Apple. We know they’re innovative and technologically forward. But they don’t assume we are. They just know we want to improve our lives. And if our devices can do that? We want it.
I get that it’s not always as easy to pull out the benefits of a product or service where they might feel blurred with the features or aren’t very obvious.
A good way to delve deeper and funnel them out is by asking clarifying questions like:
+ So what?
+ But why?
+ Who cares?
Keep asking these questions until you arrive at an answer that truly means something to the client and is unique from the competition.
Essentially, be the customer’s advocate. Don’t expect them to do the digging and uncovering of why they need it. That’s your job as the marketer, business owner, maker, etc.
“Assume the reader knows nothing, but don’t assume the reader is stupid.” [via Everybody Writes, Ann Handley]
Similarly to what we see in Apple’s iPhone X sales page, list your features and benefits in bulleted or one-liner type fashion.
This is where the design of whatever medium you’re working with (website, landing page, product descriptions, etc.) really step into the spotlight.
Features can be straightforward. After all, they’re the raw facts. It’s okay to be direct and clear. There aren’t many other ways to describe an “Intel CORE m3 7th Generation Processor” of a PC or a notebook with “260 unlined pages”.
But make sure you follow it up with WHY someone should care or want that. It needs to solve an existing problem or in some way improve their current situation. Benefits can still be short and sweet. You’re just writing with a little more heart and avoiding jargon at all costs.
Authenticity and a connection to the prospect is what builds trust, so speak their language, not yours.
To take it even one step further, really good copy knows that it’s not just about showing the now benefit. It’s also about articulating the future benefit (adapted, Digital Marketer, Copywriting Mastery). This becomes even more crucial for big-ticket items; and life-altering products like healthcare, finance, or education, etc.
An example of a now benefit would be: This iPhone will make you super cool because you’ll have the latest tech and ability to take awesome Instagram photos. (Arguably shallow & silly but you get the idea.)
An example of a future benefit would be: You’ll save money on professional photography, or buying a DSLR camera, and have incredible high-quality memories of life’s most important moments like birthdays, childbirths, anniversaries, and vacations.
You can also see how this makes the most sense for larger purchases, but it’s worth bringing into your copy any way you can. If nothing else, it forces you to think of the bigger picture for your customer.
So, moral of the story:
Give all features a compelling benefit that’s honest, value-driven, and meaningful to your reader now and in the future.
Lastly, like in the first Apple video, give it appropriate imagery, design, and other media that furthers your story and adds to the emotional appeal.
Have other case studies or examples of benefits that are clearly articulated? Let’s see! Go ahead and share ’em in the comments below!