Years ago, I worked as a digital marketing copywriter. I wrote content for websites to convince you to purchase this book, reserve that event space, sign up for this free trial, buy that concert ticket.
To write marketing copy, you have to first understand the difference between features and benefits. Your goal is to lead with benefits-oriented language.
Features are the details and facts about a product or service that make it great. Features are what something is.
Benefits are how those features positively affect your life. Benefits speak to emotions — they are why something matters to you, why smashing that BUY NOW button will cause you to sleep better at night, why joining this email list will change your life.
Here’s a quick example. Let’s say you’re promoting an event with free childcare available.
You could put FREE CHILDCARE in large letters at the top of an event poster. But a more effective way to market the event is to demonstrate for people how the features of the event — including free childcare — will benefit them. Show, don’t just tell. SAVE MONEY FOR THE VACATION YOU DESERVE when you take advantage of free childcare at our event!
|Free childcare||Save money|
A single feature may have many different benefits for different audiences. When writing marketing copy, it’s essential to have a clear image of who your target audience is: what do they love? what are their fears? what are their dreams? When you understand your audience, you can help them imagine how they’ll feel about the thing you’re selling.
Here are 3 different reasons why 3 different audiences might care about one feature:
|Feature||Benefit A||Benefit B||Benefit C|
|Free childcare||Save money for your next family getaway. Invest in together time.||Enjoy time on your own for you and your hobbies. Invest in you.||Give your kids the enrichment and care they need for future success. Invest in their future.|
Here at UUCC, we don’t think about our communications as marketing. We’re a community of many perspectives and experiences, united by shared values and a shared commitment to the health and well-being of the community itself. When we publicize events or send out pledge drive info, we’re not trying to manipulate your emotions. We’re sharing information that we believe you want to know, because you say you care about the UUCC community.
But in the past two days, I’ve been thinking of our UUCC activities in the framework of features and benefits. It’s been an interesting exercise.
Here are two features and possible benefits of those features of this Saturday’s Celebration Saturday community-wide potluck event:
|Feature||Benefit A||Benefit B|
|Food||No time to cook? No problem! Eat food already prepared by other people.||Tired of eating your same weekend meals? There’s an endless array and variety of foods at this old-fashioned potluck!|
|Fellowship||Feel like part of the UUCC family again when you reconnect with friends you’ve missed over the past 2 years of pandemic separation.||Find your place and know that you belong when you meet congregational leaders representing UUCC groups and committees.|
And here are two features of UUCC’s Annual Pledge Drive, and what benefits you might feel or experience because of those features:
|Feature||Benefit A||Benefit B|
|Pledge what you can|
(there is no prescribed pledge)
|Exercise your freedom to make a personal financial decision that works for you and your family.||Sleep soundly at night, knowing that you’ve done all you can to sustain the UUCC community that means so much to you.|
|Pledge so we can plan|
(whatever you pledge is what our budget is next year)
|Know that you have the power and agency to shape the operations and programs of UUCC — wield it wisely!||Build the world you want to live in with UUCC. You determine the future of UUCC and our work in the community.|
So often we get stuck thinking about what we do, what we could do (not always helpful), or what we should do (hardly ever helpful).
Features/benefits thinking helps us focus on why we do what we do, and reminds us of the stakes and motivations that drive our activities.
What do you see as the features of UUCC? (What is UUCC? What do we do?)
What are UUCC’s benefits to you? (Why do we do what we do? Why does UUCC matter?)
How would you draw a features/benefits chart for UUCC?
for the UUCC activities you’re involved in?
I’d love to know!
P.S. The title of this post is not good marketing copy, because it does not paint a picture of how or why this post will change your life. But you clicked it anyhow, didn’t you? 😉