Here’s another one of my favorite “pet peeves” in radio copywriting.
Everybody squawks the advertising mantras but very few actually know how to apply them. And it becomes very apparent in their copywriting.
Hopefully we’ll get to the bottom of it, and you’ll be able to recognize a feature when you see one, and the obvious lack of a benefit.
Features are Facts
You’ll hear it all the time in car advertising: “rack and pinion steering…6-speed transmission…128 standard features most companies call extras…” Pick any one of those 128 features and you have…well…a “feature”.
Restaurants just can’t break free of the “menu” mentality: “Wednesday night, karaoke and Friday night is always ladies night!”
They could be design elements built into the product or service: color, size, weight, independent suspension…etc.
They could be amenities: bluetooth capability
Gluten free, high protein, lavender scented, dye-free, fluoride-enhanced…
On and on and on…many times, they’re just adjectives.
Features, by themselves, just sit there. They try to draw attention but in reality, most people will just look at features like a blob of flavorless, colorless gelatin. “As is” they don’t do much.
What makes features particularly deceptive, is you “think” there’s more. Features make you “feel like” you’ve said a lot, but the truth is, you’ve only scratched the surface, and presented your business with a wink and a nod and wrapped it in a “So…waddaya think about that?” and you haven’t said anything.
What you “think” you’ve said, or at least implied, could be the “benefit”.
Benefits can be a little tricky. Benefits can be obvious and they can be hidden. Benefits can scream at the top of their lungs and be ignored. Benefits can seem impossible and they’re exactly what you’re customer is looking for.
Here’s the Feature…Find the Benefit
“Benefits” are the results the customer, buyer, consumer experiences from buying, using and owning your product or service.
The most critical element in that last sentence is “the customer”. Everything in your ad is for the customer. Everything in your ad is about the customer.
What you might think is important or even obvious, may not necessarily be a benefit to your customer.
The quickest way from a feature to a benefit is to state the feature, then follow it with two words that will either bring you to a screeching halt, or propel you to the benefit.
Those two words are, “Which means…”
Back to the car ad example: “This model comes with rack and pinion steering, which means…
(Did you screech or propel?)
A common benefit would be “…rack and pinion steering, which means smoother, effortless turning.” Now we’ve uncovered a result, an effect, an element desirable to your customer, that comes from the Feature.
See how “smoother, effortless turning” is something for the driver? It’s from the buyer’s perspective.
A better example would be, “…rack and pinion steering, which means it’ll feel like it’s running on rails.”
That’s a real benefit for the horsepower hungry, speed addict! It’s what your customer wants – not what the product brochure lists.
Incorporate that language into your commercials, and you’ll be singing all the way to the bank.