How to write benefits-oriented copy

“Stress benefits rather than features” is one of the oldest rules for writing persuasive copy that sells products and services. But doing so is sometimes easier said than done. Here is a simple method … the “so-that” trick … you can use to take your audience from features to benefits.

It is a truism to say it … people who buy from your copywriting clients are not interested in your clients or their products or services per se. What they are really concerned about is what those products or services can do for them … the benefits they will derive from using them.

Any product or service can be viewed at four different levels … features, advantages, satisfactions and benefits.

Each of these four levels has its own set of characteristics. These will vary depending on the type of product or service you are writing about and the market for which it is intended to cater.

Let’s illustrate this with an example. Suppose you have been asked to write some persuasive copy for a new suite of accounting software.

  • Features … are what products or services have. “This accounting software has a reporting feature”.
  • Advantages … are what products or services do. “Key personnel are provided with real-time, on-demand, up-to-date mission-critical information.”
  • Satisfactions … are what products or services deliver. “Cost-savings, greater control, increased production, better decision-making”
  • Benefits … are the boon the user or firm obtain from a particular product or service.

To get from features to benefits you can use the “so that” trick, viz:

“This accounting software has a reporting feature so that key personnel are provided with real-time, on-demand, up-to-date, mission-critical information, so that cost-savings, greater control, increased production, better decision-making are achieved, so that managers are able to keep their finger on the company’s financial pulse at all times, thereby reducing costs by as much as 50%, maintaining greater control over expenditures, increasing their output by 10-20 times at any given time, and avoiding making decisions that could cost thousands if not millions of dollars – all in just a few clicks.”

As you can see, you use “so that” three times to get from features to benefits. The purpose of the trick is to help you clarify you thoughts and marshal your argument.

But then, of course, you now have to rewrite the message to make it flow better.

“This accounting software has a reporting feature that provides key personnel with real-time, on-demand, up-to-date, mission-critical information. The result is that cost-savings, greater control, increased production, and better decision-making are achieved. By enabling managers to keep their fingers on the company’s financial pulse at all times, costs can be reduced by as much as 50%. In addition, manages can maintain greater control over expenditures, and avoid making decisions that could cost thousands if not millions of dollars – all in just a few clicks.”

This simple “so that” trick can be used with all products or services to bring a reader gently from a feature to its benefits. Try it … it really works.

However there are several situations in which it may be better to emphasise features rather than benefits … as I will explain in my next article.

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