What’s a feature, and what’s a benefit?

Are there certain things that people don’t know but should, and that drives you to distraction? For me, one of the biggest is the difference between features and benefits. While that distinction has been talked about for years, and successful communications and sales professionals invariably advocate for emphasizing benefits over features, there continues to be a remarkably large number of people in sales and marketing roles who fail to grasp the difference.

It’s not an issue of splitting hairs or being annoyed by something inconsequential. Using benefits in your messages is far more effective than features, because it’s more meaningful to your audiences. People tend to emphasize features, because that’s what’s important to the seller, but benefits are invariably more important to whoever is buying.

In simple terms, a feature is some aspect of your product or service. A benefit is what makes that a good or useful thing. A feature is a five-year warranty. The benefit is not having to worry about repair costs for five years. A feature is a premium automotive suspension system. The benefit is being able to drive on the roughest road comfortably and with confidence.

The easiest way to identify benefits is to take a feature and ask yourself why anyone would want it. Your answer identifies the benefit.