The only question your copy needs to answer is the only question your reader really cares about: what’s in it for me? In other words, why should your reader buy it, why should they do what you’re asking them to do, why should they care?
You answer this question by focusing on the benefit not the feature. Think of the feature as the thing and the benefit as the thing that means the thing is good to have.
Here’s an extract from some copy selling an HD television on the Currys website (it’s no longer on the website, unfortunately, otherwise I’d give you the link so you could see it in context):
With Full HD 1920 x 1080p resolution …
Now, if the writer had stopped there, your response would probably be, “So what?”. But they didn’t. The sentence carries on:
… you’ll be able to catch your favourite programmes in crisp detail and vivid colours for a completely immersive televisual experience.
And so you think, “Wow – that sounds cool – I want one of those.”
Here’s another example from the same product:
Boasting 100 Hz BLB technology …
To which you think, “OK, whatever.” But then you read the rest of the sentence:
…the [TV] will ensure smooth on-screen motion with reduced motion blur and great picture clarity, even if you are watching fast paced action movies or sport.
And you think – “Great – that sounds amazing – I want one.” (What’s interesting, if you think back to the very first entry in this series – Audience – is to think about the sort of person Currys is aiming at with this text. Stereotypically, something makes me think they may think it’s the male of the household who makes the tech purchase decisions…)
The simple rule of thumb is if you’ve written anything to which the reader’s response could be, “So what?” you’ve just written a feature. If the response is “Ooh – I need that” you’ve got the benefit.
In short, focusing on the feature means your reader has to work hard to understand why something is important (and, let’s be honest, they probably can’t be bothered to work hard). Focusing on the benefit makes it easy for your reader to understand why they need what you’re selling (meaning you’re more likely to make the sale).
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