The Difference Between Benefits and Features

Touting benefits over features is the cornerstone of good copy.

So, what exactly is the difference? What the hell am I banging on about? Well, suppose you want to buy an Aston Martin. Yeah, bear with me.

You don’t buy an Aston Martin because you want an Aston Martin. And you don’t buy it because it has a 6-litre engine or because it can go super ridiculously fucking fast, or because it comes in ‘carbon black’. You buy an Aston Martin because of how it will make you feel.

You buy an Aston Martin because you want to feel like James Bond.

The 6-litre engine and the going-super-fastness and the sexy ‘carbon black’ paintjob – those are the features. Those things are, on the surface, what you’re buying the car for. But feeling like James Bond? That’s why you’re buying the car. That’s the benefit of buying the car. Buying this sexy, super fast car will make you feel like James Bond.

You can go deeper than ‘wanting to feel like James Bond’, too: why do you want to feel like James Bond? Because you want to feel sexy, sophisticated, suave. Maybe because you want to impress girls. (Although, protip: there are WAY better ways of doing that. The super ridiculously fucking fast car may, in fact, just make you look like a bit of a douche. But that’s not important. The important thing is how you want to feel, and the belief that buying this thing will make you feel that way.)

Benefits are all about appealing to a person’s identity. Before you can persuade anyone to buy into something, you have to show them who that something will help them become. You have to paint a picture of their life with this thing in it. Once you’ve done that – you’ve got them. They want this thing now, and all that remains is for you to give them the information they need to be able to justify this purchase.