Internet Marketing 101: Sell Benefits, Not Features

By Daniel Scocco

Whenever you need to sell something, how do you introduce it to potential buyers? The most natural thing for us to do is to start describing the product itself. In other words, to start describing its features. The problem with this approach? It doesn’t sell! It will simply bore the customer and make you lose his attention.

If you want to sell, you need to start with the benefits and value that your product will bring to the life of your customers. Sure, down the road you’ll need to actually describe the product features (cause people want to know what they are actually buying), but you only do that once the customer is already convinced to buy your product.

I’ll give you an example to illustrate my point. Suppose that you are a bit over weight, and you are looking for an ebook to guide you through the process of losing that extra weight. You visit the sales page of two weight-loss ebooks. Ebook A has the following bullet points right on top of the page:

  • 176 pages full of content!
  • Illustrations about exercises.
  • A complete list of food you are not supposed to eat.
  • Immediate download after you buy.

Ebook B, on the other hand, starts with the following bullet points:

  • Techniques to start burning fat today!
  • Lose up to 10 pounds in the first 2 weeks!
  • Discover the 5 best exercises to slim down.
  • Become healthier and more attractive at the same time!

If you could keep reading only one of the sales page, which one would it be? Probably the second one, cause it’s describes exactly what you are looking for, right?

In fact that’s the logic behind the theory: customers don’t want your product, they want the benefit that your product will bring to them. In the example above you can clearly see that. Over weight customers don’t care if an ebook is red, yellow, with or without illustrations, with 10 or 200 pages. All they care is whether or not they will lose weight using it. That’s what they are willing to pay for.

Bottom line: whenever you need to sell something, always start with the benefits. After all that’s what the customer is looking for.




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19 Responses to “Internet Marketing 101: Sell Benefits, Not Features”

  • Danny

    Very good points, Daniel.

    I think the “number 2” is better mainly as it is more along the lines of a list of “benefits and calls to action combined” rather than number one, which is more like a typical break down of a book(ebook) format and structure….

  • Graham Jones – Internet Psychologist

    This is a good article with some good advice. However, new psychological research suggests that online it may not be the best advice. The notion that we should sell benefits not features is a standard mantra from good marketers – because it demonstrably works. However, the new studies show that it works mainly offline. In the online world many shoppers already know what they want to buy. As a result their online searches are about comparing features. They already understand the benefits of a particular kind of product.

    It rather depends upon knowing more about the intentions of the web page visitor. If they are “informational searchers” – people just wondering about the subject and checking things out – then selling benefits is the best option. However, if they are “utilitarian searchers” – people who know what they want to buy and who are just considering the options – then selling features is the best option.

    It means that selling benefits only works for one kind of online buyer. If you want to capture most buyers you need to sell benefits AND features. Or have two landing pages aimed at different types of buyers.

  • David

    “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole” – Theodore Levitt

  • Sujit Dubey

    You have mentioned all thing related to customer in “number 2” but now a days more competition this section also because everyone is aware from their products and feature what to mention and what shouldn’t..

  • SonorousTV

    Have to agree on focusing on benefits as we all buy the benefits. We tend to focus on benefits and state these as a subset of features i.e. “Hidden Castors – Move the TV stand around freely without scratching floors”.

  • Richard Ng

    Hi Daniel,

    Your points are spot on… Potential customers hack-care about the feature, they are looking at what the feature can benefit them!

    Thanks for sharing…

  • Victoria @ My Daily Cuppa

    I just watched a webinar that went over the exact same thing. People are not interested in what the solution contains, they want to know what that solution will do and how quickly.

    We can never be reminded of this important tip too many times. Focus on the benefits and not the features.

    Thanks

  • Sonny

    This is a spot on Daniel. As you have implied the statement in Ebook B focuses on the results. “What the product can do” as opposed to “What is has, or what it is in EBook A.” People are always interested with the results which explains why EBook B is most likely to be sold. Thanks for he insight!

  • Rahul Kuntala

    @Graham Jones: You hit the nail on the head. You made Daniel’s article good to GREAT!

    I totally agree, “you need to focus on both features and benefits to fill more needs.”

    BTW great insights Daniel.

  • Slavko Desik

    Thanks for this seemingly simple advice Daniel. I was about to start making some presentations about a service that we are going to launch, and this helps a lot.

  • Sagar Rai

    Daniel, I think Ebook A looks more promising to buy than Ebook B caz I get to know what Am I paying for. Why should I pay buks for a 10 page report or plain text. Ebook A says me clearly it would 176 page which means plentiful of content and next it says illustrations which refers to me slideshows or pictures and finally download immediately which is one of the highest priority given while buying anything online.

    Choice defers persons to person. I might be wrong but what I think is Ebook A has promising selling idea. 🙂

  • Ashley Faulkes

    Great work Daniel. A nice reminder of an amazingly effective technique. I watched a similar video on the Internet Marketing party recently, where they discussed selling unattractive products by targeting the benefits and solving peoples problems. Keep up the great work, ashley

  • Sam Woods

    This is one of the tactics all successful marketers use, not only IM’ers but telesales, door to door, any selling.

    This is a really interesting topic and if you think about it, it makes complete sense. Why sell a toothpaste when you can sell the perfect smile.

    Also, most people don’t want your product/service thrown at them, you need to make them want it by making them realize what it could be like with it. Make them realize what they have been missing, why they NEED it.

    Thanks for the post!

    Sam

  • Trigonal

    “whenever you need to sell something, always start with the benefits. After all that’s what the customer is looking for.”

    I’ll keep that in mind, Bro! Thank you so much.

  • Sarah

    Totally agree – the benefits are primarily all the potential customer is looking for. Get these across and the ‘information’ can follow. Something I have used quite successfully for a while now. Thanks – good info.

  • Marketingquery

    Good Post! I agree with you about making the emphasis on the benefits rather than on the features can be far more effective. However, it surely depends on the product and the audience, if it is a tech product I am almost sure that a focus on the features will be more appropiate.

  • Anh Le

    Wow this is so great technique. Just one small thing but totally makes a big difference! I love it! I like how you clarify by providing such a detailed and thoughtful example. Totally makes sense to me!

  • Flynn

    “In the online world many shoppers already know what they want to buy. As a result their online searches are about comparing features.”

    I am on the fence about this, it all depends what stage of the buying process they are at.

  • Cancun Boy

    I like the article, though I still think that it doesn´t apply to all niches. Travel Industry benefits? Get tanned, gain some weight, spill money? Anyway I agree that when we are trying to sell something there are some steps for inducing the sell, I remember about 7 steps for making a sale.

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