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Features before benefits

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in Business Management

Perhaps the oldest — and most widely embraced — rule for writing direct response copy is, “Stress benefits, not features.”  But even this sacred commandment doesn’t always hold true.

“As a direct response copywriter, I do my best to write copy that focuses on benefits,” says freelancer Connie Clark in a letter to this magazine (February 1987).  “But sometimes — in admittedly rare circumstances — a different approach can work as well or better.”

Specifically, I can think of five selling situations in which features should be given equal (if not top) billing over benefits and promise-oriented copy.

  1. Selling to experts.  As a new homeowner, I know beans about insulation.  So I need to be sold on the benefits: How much will the insulation reduce my winter fuel bills?  What’s the benefit of insulating my attic floor vs. The roof?  Why is an “R value” of 11 better than 9?  Will my house actually become warmer and less drafty?

    But could...(register to read more)

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