Blog post - Why features and benefits matter in copywriting

What’s the Difference Between a Feature and a Benefit? And Why Does it Matter in Copywriting?

January 30, 2019 –

It’s cold outside right now. Really cold. Toronto is in a deep freeze and I can hear the bitter wind whipping outside my window as I type this.

In fact, it’s so cold that after only 7 minutes of walking outside last night, my partner got frostbite on his left ear! 7 minutes. Less than 4 blocks.

I narrowly escaped, but only because I was wearing a wool hat that was warmer. The hat kept me cozy, avoiding my ears from (literally) freezing thanks to the cold, bitter air.

So, let’s get down to the point here….FEATURES VERSUS BENEFITS!

Using this example, what was the important feature of the hat that saved my ears? …It’s that it was made from wool.

And what was the important benefit of the hat? …Its benefit was warmth. No frostbite. No pain. A happier me!

When we were walking those 4 blocks, I’ll admit I wasn’t thinking much about the hat’s features.  But I was definitely thinking about the benefits. I was warm. I wasn’t cringing in pain!

That’s the thing about benefits — they’re powerful. They’re usually what we care about most. They speak to our needs, desires and wants.

And, they’re one of the golden keys to copywriting!

So, what’s the difference between a feature and a benefit?

A feature is a factual statement about a product or service. It’s what you would see on a spec sheet. It’s how you would physically describe a product or service.

Features sound like…

  • “The hat is made from wool.”
  • “The hat is black.”
  • “The hat has a pompom on top.”

A benefit, on the other hand, is the value a feature brings to a consumer. 

Benefits (following features) sound like…

  • “The hat is made from wool [feature], meaning it’s warm [benefit].”
  • “The hat is black [feature], meaning it matches my coat [benefit].”
  • “The has a pompom on top [feature], meaning it’s cute [benefit]!”

Let’s look at a few more examples…

More examples of a features vs benefits:

The computer is black [feature], so it looks modern and professional [benefit].

The smoothie is green [feature], meaning it makes me feel healthy [benefit].

The accountant has 15 years of experience [feature], meaning she will probably file my taxes accurately [benefit].

The store has 15 locations [feature], meaning I won’t have to travel far to visit one [benefit].

The book has 500 pages [feature], meaning it will keep me entertained for longer [benefit].

Why are benefits important to copywriting?

Distinguishing features from benefits is important when writing copy because, while features are important for appeasing our logical side, benefits really hit home. Benefits connect with our wants, desires and needs. Benefits solve problems. They tell a story. They get to the root of why we’re actually buying a product or service.

Let’s go back to our hat example and imagine two versions of an ad copy…

Version 1 (features only): Need a hat? The ABC Hat has arrived. Made from soft wool. Available in black.

Version 2 (benefits included): Need a hat to keep you toasty warm this winter? The ABC Hat has arrived. Stylish and cute, it’s made from soft wool for extra warmth and comfort. Available in black to match any outfit or occasion.

When we focus on benefits, the ad becomes more compelling, interesting and richer. Benefits help us imagine how the product will fit into our day and bring us joy/happiness/ease/etc.

So, the next time you’re writing copy, make sure you tease out those benefits!

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