Features vs Benefits in Small Business Marketing

We can get so caught up in all the details of what we do that it’s often hard to see our businesses from the outside as customers and potential customers. It’s that “too much knowledge” thing. Our brains naturally fill in blanks to create a beautiful vision. But we don’t realize there are puzzle pieces missing for those that don’t live inside our brains 😉

It’s those big missing puzzle pieces we need to pay attention to. And that leads me to a discussion about features and benefits because it’s so very easy to confuse them.

Let’s start with features since they are most definitely the easiest.

Features are all those details that we spend time developing about our products and services to describe them.

A list of features for a leadership program might include:

  • small classes which encourage group discussion
  • a workbook
  • customization to suit your needs
  • learn to manage team dynamics
  • understand how to defuse conflict
  • … and so on

A list of features for a style of boot might include:

  • genuine leather
  • solid brass zipper and hardware
  • available in wide widths
  • handmade
  • fast shipping
  • on sale now

While they might not be grouped this way on a website, these are all examples of features.

How do you get to the benefits?

It’s that old trick of asking WHY multiple times. Why does someone want to manage group dynamics? Why is a solid brass zipper important to someone’s choice to buy boots?

To you, when looking at your own list of features, the WHYs will be obvious… so obvious you may think they’re obvious to everyone else, too. That may or may not be the case. (You know, that old “ass-u-me” thing.)

Why get to the benefits?

About 15 years ago, I was guest-teaching a class of future estheticians at a local college. I don’t remember the title but the topic was broadly ‘how to get along better with clients and co-workers’. I was about 10 minutes into the class when an arm went up. The question was: why should I care if I get along with my co-workers?

Throughout my previous (corporate) career, everything involved getting along with co-workers. I was long passed the understanding that it’s a good thing – I was bought in. But the young people in that room weren’t. And I had completely neglected that important tidbit. It wasn’t even part of the agenda – I was teaching the HOW, not the WHY.

Benefits are about why people buy.

Features showcase what we offer; benefits tap into both emotions and practicalities.

So, why is a solid brass zipper important to someone’s choice to buy boots? Perhaps it’s durability and longevity – it not only adds a touch of elegance but also provides exceptional durability, ensuring your boots remain functional and stylish over time.

Benefits enable us to resonate with our target audience, addressing not just what our offerings are but why they matter.