Monday, November 3, 2008

Guest Post: Distinguish Between Feature and Benefit

Editor's Note: TVCNet member Mike Fisch of Apropos has written a post for his blog about the difference between a feature and benefit. Because of its relevance to consulting in the process of marketing our products and services, we have reposted it here. Enjoy!

It's important to distinguish between features and benefits, because customers care much more about benefits. In fact, benefits are really what sell a product.

A feature is a charactesristic of a product or service, and a benefit is the need or desire it satisfies for a customer.

To illustrate, let me ask you a question. What is the last thing you purchased and why? Your reason why may point to a feature or benefit. But ask yourself why once more, and you will surely be stating a benefit.

The last thing I purchased was a "sunrise muffin" at Big City Coffee while driving home after picking up my 15-month-old daughter at daycare. The muffin has raisins, coconut and sunflower seeds and appears to be made of whole wheat. It is moderately sweet. Those are all features. So why did I buy it? Because I was hungry and the muffin tastes good and is reasonably healthy. I also fed some to my daughter so she would be happy and not fussy while riding in the back seat. So the benefits are (1) satisfy hunger, (2) enjoy taste, (3) be healthy, (4) make baby happy and (4) enjoy peace and quiet in the car. All for $1.95!

The features focus on the muffin, while the benefits focus on me.

The best marketing is about the customer, not necessarily the product, not ultimately. It’s about them. Because the goal of marketing is to influence people to buy a product or service. And why do people buy? To satisfy a felt need or desire. This desire drives the purchase. The product is a means to satisfy it. So the purpose of marketing is to make a connection between the customer’s desire, whatever it may be, and your product. This is why it is so important to emphasize benefits - they are your customers' needs and desires.

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