When copywriters say that sales copy must focus on benefits and not features, what do we mean? Well, a feature is all ME ME ME, describing the product. For example, “I have a squillion qualifications”…but really, who cares?

snowhitec422036_sA benefit on the other hand is all about YOU YOU YOU, where the ‘YOU’ is the reader and what the product feature means to them.

There is a table on the market with a large plastic top which can be sloped at an angle towards you, and has a rim to hold any spills. These are the features. A simple technique to work out the benefit is to write ‘which means’ after the feature and then finish the sentence….

The wipe clean surface has a rim which means… your home is hygienic and your child is protected from spills.

The table top has a large surface area which means… it is great for playing with toy building bricks.

All benefits to a mum with a young child, but what if we change the target market? Being able to clean up porridge easily is unlikely to appeal to a seasoned jigsaw puzzle fan. But how about…

The wipe clean surface has a rim which means… the puzzle stays put when you angle the table to make it more comfortable to work at.

The table top has a large surface area which means… it will hold a 5,000 piece puzzle.

The point is that the features are the same but the benefits have changed.

This comparison of the mum and the puzzle fan is a no-brainer, but what about a nebulous service such as life-coaching? If you fail to indentify the precise problem for your market, then you will not hit on the ideal solution, or benefit, which means no profit for you.

For example, someone putting on weight because they fail to make time for exercise, is unlikely to think or feel the same as the person piling on the pounds through comfort eating. Unless you are spot on with the right trigger and benefit then neither will bite on your offer.

At the Guerrilla Business Day, the example we use to explain the concept is the 1,000’s of apps an ipad has. To a young mum these apps help to educate and amuse her young children. For a pensioner who has lots of medication to keep track of, there is an app for that and the benefit is peace of mind.

Same product, same concept, it all works the same, but the benefits to each target market are very very different.

So, before you can turn your features into benefits you have to understand exactly what your product means to your target audience. True, you can do market research, but when it comes to understanding who your market is, what they want and how they want it, the difference between good sales copy and great sales copy could come down to intuition.