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Your Company's Features & Benefits

Products may be described in terms of their features and benefits.  Features are product characteristics that deliver benefits; we buy products for their benefits. Stated another way:

  • Features are product characteristics such as size, color, horsepower, functionality, design, hours of business, etc.
  • Benefits answer the customer’s question: What’s in it for me?

This distinction is further illustrated in the following examples:

A feature is. . .

A benefit is. . .

Physical size

It’s small enough to fit in your raincoat pocket.

A 75 horsepower motor

A mower that takes the work out of yard work.

Patented box spring design

A restful night's sleep.

 

While product features are usually easy to detect and describe, product benefits can be trickier because they’re often intangible. The most compelling product benefits are those that provide emotional or financial rewards. It’s not the brighter smile that the toothpaste offers that is it's benefit; it’s what the smile might bring you. (A good-looking mate, a better job, etc.)

Emotional rewards run the gamut of human emotions but basically allow the buyer to feel better in some way. For example, sending flowers to a friend or family member allows the buyer to express love. Buying products made from recycled materials offers the buyer the chance to be environmentally responsible.

 

Products that deliver financial rewards allow the buyer to : 

  • Save money (a discount long-distance phone plan)

  • Make money (computer software for managing a home-based business)

  • Gain convenience and time (microwaveable meals).

Discovering Your Product's Benefits

To identify your product’s benefits, you must consider the customer’s viewpoint.

Besides putting yourself in your customers’ shoes mentally, talk to or survey them asking them to identify your product’s benefits. They might provide you with information you never thought about!

Look at who has purchased your product in the past. What does that customer profile tell you about your product’s benefits?

Going forward, you might set up a few systems to develop and track  product benefits: 

  • Ask customers for suggestions for improvement.

  • Pay attention to customer complaints and prospect inquiries.  Be open to what your customers say. Go so far as to train and reward employees for questioning customers and prospects to learn what they want and what they don’t like about your product. Analyze and learn from this input.

  • Watch your competitors. Do the changes in their product offerings suggest desired product benefits?

Why is it important to understand what my product’s features and benefits are?

Understanding product features and benefits allows you to do such things as: 

  • Describe your products in marketing collateral, publications or in a  personal selling situation in a way that is most relevant to customers.

  • Differentiate–explain how your product is different ("better") than the competition’s.

  • Use a variety of pricing and positioning strategies effectively (see several strategy ideas below in "Strategies that are based upon features").

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