Features vs. Benefits: A Crash Course on Proper Messaging

Earlier, I was scrolling on LinkedIn and came across this ad.

Instantly, I was impressed with the effectiveness of the language.

The language, concise and clear, offers up the benefit of the product being marketed in a way that stops scrollers in their tracks, including me.

Qordoba marketing messaging benefits example


Qordoba is an IT company that helps companies stay consistent with communication through AI technology.

The company's ad caught my eye by communicating the benefits reading the report will have when it comes to customer-facing content, which does interest me.

'How are tech companies managing their voice, tone, & writing style guides across their various types of customer-facing content?'

After reading this caption, I knew exactly what I would gain from this product, and why it was worth my time.

The beauty of proper messaging is that by communicating either the benefits or features of your product or service, you can tell customers what they need to know in a clever, concise way.

As a marketer, you're likely wondering when you should use benefits versus features in your content. We've got an answer, and we're going to dive into that in the next couple of sections.

Features vs. Benefits

What exactly is a "feature" or "benefit," anyway?

Both methods are useful and give customers important information they'll need during their buyer's journey, such as design, price, and real-world relevance. Ultimately, however, the benefits of having a product or service are what make consumers purchase. If you do decide to highlight features, you'll want to make sure consumers understand how they'll benefit from those features.

Let's look at another example of features and benefits at work. This is a marketing email I got this morning from Marriott hotels:

Marriott messaging exampleThis ad starts with the benefits of becoming a Marriott member — 'yes to vacation views' — while the rest of it explains the features of the program, including 'no annual fees' and '3X points per $1 spent at more than 7,000 Marriott locations.

Emphasizing that Marriott members enjoy free perks, then expanding on how this is done (by earning rewards points), is a really effective way to explain the benefits and features of the rewards membership.

Which is relatively straightforward — but what if you have multiple products being sold at once?

If you're working with more than one campaign at once, remember the "Features or benefits?" the answer can change depending on the product.

If you're unsure whether you should list features or benefits for a given product, consider this — features are an optimal choice in a saturated market. For instance, a small business making a meal-delivery kit would have some competition (such as HelloFresh or Home Chef), so they would have to communicate their service's competitive advantage by naming one-of-a-kind features. This would include price, dietary restrictions, menu configuration, etc.

Benefits, on the other hand, are the way to go if your brand exists within a niche market or a "drier" topic. You'll want to answer the following questions with your benefits: How does it work? How does it make a consumer's life easier?

To resonate well with an audience who perhaps haven't heard of your product or service before, try to include benefits in your demos, ebooks, and other marketing content..

Now that we're more clear on features vs. benefits, let's explore some examples to see both in-action.

Features and benefits: Examples

For the visual learners like myself, below are some real-world examples of how to work features or benefits into ads, product pages, email, or any other marketing materials:

1. Calm

This email about an exclusive deal made me excited, which is another way highlighting features in your marketing material can be beneficial — to build excitement. Here's how sleep meditation company Calm did it:

Calm messaging exampleFraming singer/songwriter Lindsey Stirling's work as an exclusive feature improves customer relationships and makes them feel special. Opening this email made me think about how glad I am to be an email subscriber (especially since I grew up watching Stirling on YouTube) because of cool offers like this.

If you're running a promotion or want to improve customer relationships, consider sending them an offer that reminds customers of your product or service's unique features.

2. HubSpot Academy

In this product page for HubSpot Academy's social media course, three benefits are listed at the bottom, so prospects can see how completing this course will be worth their time:

hubspot academy messaging example


Benefits don't always have to be short phrases – in fact, on product pages, more is often better. On web pages, it's critical you give your customers the helpful information they need — including cost, structure, time required to complete, and a description on how your products or services' benefits outweigh the benefits of competitors'.

3. Arcadia

Can you spot the benefits energy company Arcadia used in this promoted tweet?

If you chose the entire tweet, you're right!

Almost every word helps describe to the reader why they should open the linked website. As a consumer, I would think, "Well, what is the easiest way to save on my energy bill at no cost? That thing is sky high!"

Words that help the consumer are going to resonate with those who are just mindlessly scrolling and not necessarily looking to buy anything. To build interest in their promotion, Arcadia's use of benefits to entice prospective customers was a good choice on Twitter.

Impress a scroller by using benefits in marketing messages. You have a few seconds to leave a mark.

4. Airtable

Beautiful, descriptive features in this Facebook ad told me exactly what Airtable is and what their software does, despite having no previous knowledge. In less than thirty words, I know that Airtable must be a product or service that makes dull spreadsheets a thing of the past — for free.

airtable messaging example


Marketing teams that don't have the budget to spend on a full suite of fancy products might come across this ad, see the features, and think "Flexible, beautiful, and fun? Spreadsheets? For free? I should look into this," and immediately hit that CTA.

Many of us use spreadsheets that are mostly text and less colorful, so Airtable does a good job detailing how they're different from Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, and helps them seem like a game-changer to consumers.

5. KeVita

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink with probiotics, which aid in helping digestion and improving energy levels. So, when marketing their kombucha on Instagram, the KeVita brand wanted to show that kombucha isn't just a summer drink, contrary to popular belief.

Aesthetically pleasing, benefit-enforcing GIFs like this make visual platforms like Instagram a perfect canvas for an ad that displays benefits.

Animation often stops scrollers — especially animation paired with bright pink text. The backdrop, a ski lift covered in fresh snow, ("powder" to skiers), shows the accessibility of the drink, while the caption alludes to kombucha-fueled energy to get through a long ski trip.

Two benefits that instantly stuck out to me about this post are accessibility and energy. On snowy mountains, those two functions are going to be essential when thinking about snacks. Consider a scenario-based ad if your product is like KeVita, commonly perceived as a summer drink.

From phones to shampoo, , the features/benefits marketing method can be applied to almost anything. As we saw, it's important to know the distinction so audience members can deliver a clear marketing message.

Asking yourself, "Does this ad convey features or benefits?" and structuring accordingly is a simple thought to consider when creating copy that could improve the interpretation of product pages or ads by the public. What do you want to say, and which messaging method will be best for that?

via Business Feeds

The European Union’s trade policy will involve some tough negotiations

IF THE TRUMP administration’s America is the bully of the global trading system, the European Union is the finger-wagging school prefect. Instead of threatening tariffs, its leaders have called for countries to play fairly. As a trade war has raged between America and China, the EU suggested a rules-based solution. When the Trump administration wrecked the system of solving disputes at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the EU led the search for a fix. As the world’s biggest exporter of services and second only to China for goods, it has a sizeable stake in preserving order.

Enter Phil Hogan, the EU’s burly trade commissioner since December 2019. The EU is still a stickler for rules and the multilateralism that Mr Hogan says is “in our DNA”. But he wants to wield a bigger stick. “We have to stand up for our rights more assertively and aggressively, in my view,” he tells The Economist. By this he means defending the EU against unfair trading practices. The challenges range from concerns about China’s state-led system of capitalism to fears that the EU’s trading partners are not living up to their commitments.

Part of his brief involves continuing efforts to rescue the system by which the WTO solves disputes. Meanwhile he will have to manage the tense transatlantic relationship. If the job was not...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

Bank bosses in America stick around longer than those in Europe

IT IS ALL change at the top of Europe’s biggest banks. Many have either recently put in a new boss, or are desperately searching for one. Barclays is reportedly looking for a replacement for Jes Staley. Unicredit’s Jean Pierre Mustier declined to throw his hat in the ring to lead HSBC. Is it surprising? The ouster of Tidjane Thiam from Credit Suisse in February highlights how uncomfortable the hot seat can be. In Europe the tenure of bank bosses is short, the job is gruelling, and the average pay is far less than in America. Europe’s bankers may yearn to try their luck across the Atlantic. Sadly for them, their American counterparts know they have a nice gig. They cling on for dear life.

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

Rethinking how we value data

EVERYONE KNOWS that data are worth something. The biggest companies in the world base their businesses on them. Artificial-intelligence algorithms guzzle them in droves. But data are not like normal traded goods and services, such as apples and haircuts. They can be used time and again, like public goods. They also have spillover effects, both positive, such as helping to improve health care, and negative, such as breaches of personal information. That makes them far from easy to value.

A new report, led by Diane Coyle, an economist at the University of Cambridge, attempts to address this by understanding the value of data and who stands to benefit from it. She says market prices often do not ascribe full value to data because, in many cases, trading is too thin. Moreover, while much of society’s emphasis is on the dangers of misuse of personal data, the report chooses to highlight data’s contribution to “the broad economic well-being of all of society.” That gives it a much deeper value than a simple monetary one.

She outlines a variety of data types and uses. Some may be more useful in aggregate, others for individual purposes. For example, a patient’s medical records may be most valuable when they are combined with everyone else’s, while web-browsing history has value when it is used individually to bombard a person...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

How to get more innovation bang for the research buck

ABOUT A DECADE ago, a few economists began asking whether the rich world’s prolonged spell of lacklustre growth might have something to do with a shortage of new ideas. Tyler Cowen of George Mason University suggested that when it came to discovery, humanity may well have plucked all of the low-hanging fruit. Robert Gordon of Northwestern University scoffed at recent technological contributions, noting that none was nearly as important to human welfare as the humble toilet. Progress since—in gene editing, artificial intelligence and even rocketry—seems impressive. But the radical change and roaring growth enabled by the innovations of the 19th and 20th centuries continue to elude rich economies. Before abandoning hope, though, it is worth considering that it may be the motivation we provide our innovators, rather than a shortage of ideas, that is the problem.

The argument that humanity has run out of big ideas (or nearly so) makes a degree of intuitive sense. Fundamental forces of nature, like the theory of electromagnetism, can only be discovered and exploited once. Scanning through available evidence, it certainly seems like breakthroughs are ever harder to come by. In a paper by Nicholas Bloom, Charles Jones and Michael Webb of Stanford University, and John Van Reenen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the authors...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

Why active bond investors can beat the index when active equity investors can’t

IMAGINE A WORLD in which the stockmarket has only two constituents: Gurgle, a firm that has risen quickly, and Genial Motors, a mature company. Both have 100m of shares outstanding, each worth $1. That gives the market a value of $200m. Further imagine that there are two investors of equal size in the market. Both own the same no-cost index fund. Each has wealth of $100m, split between Gurgle and Genial stock.

After a year Gurgle triples in value to $3 a share, while Genial stays at $1. The market has doubled to $400m. Three-quarters of its value is in Gurgle stock. Both investors still hold 50m shares of each firm. Their total holdings are now worth $200m each: $150m-worth of Gurgle; $50m of Genial. They have shared in the market’s surge. This is a quality of passive investment in an index weighted by value. If some stocks soar in price, you share proportionately in their success.

But say our investors were active rather than passive, with one holding 100m shares of Gurgle and the other 100m of Genial. The Gurgle investor triples his wealth; the Genial investor’s wealth is unchanged. Simple maths mean that if one active investor beats the index, another must be beaten by it. And since active equity managers have higher fees than passive ones, active investing is on average a losing game in real life. Few beat the index...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

Why America’s personal-saving rate is unusually high

NO WONDER advertisements implore Americans to spend, spend, spend. These days they are positively Swabian, saving a much bigger share of their post-tax incomes than they have done for most of the past three decades (see chart). This is more than just an economic curiosity. Many households’ savings end up in Treasury bonds, reducing the government’s borrowing costs. Savings allow households to consume more later or to cushion the blow of a misfortune. But why is their propensity to save so high today?

Saving typically rises during the bad times and falls during the good. The financial crisis of 2007-09 prompted Americans to pull back on spending and pay down debts. The share of disposable income squirrelled away rose from 3% in 2005 to 8% in 2010-12. These days the economy is much stronger. The unemployment rate, at 3.6%, is at a five-decade low, while consumer confidence is high. As other countries have recovered from the crisis, their personal-saving rates have tumbled. But America’s remains high, and has risen in recent years. Goldman Sachs, a bank, says that the personal-saving rate is four percentage points higher than it “should” be, given the strength of the economy.

One commonly heard explanation for higher saving relates to inequality. Poorer people may save little or nothing—research from the Federal Reserve...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds