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A Simple Trick to Turn Features Into Benefits (and Seduce Readers to Buy!)

Features vs benefits: What's the difference?You love what you’re doing, don’t you?

When you talk about your business, you have a sparkle in your eye.

You love sharing your knowledge. And your enthusiasm is contagious. That’s what your friends and clients tell you.

But are knowledge and enthusiasm enough to sell your products or services?

Bonus: Get your free guide and worksheet for translating features into benefits so your content becomes more persuasive (and you can sell more!).

Imagine you haven’t cycled for years

And you really don’t know much about bikes.

But you want to get fit again, and biking seems fun.

You go to your local bike store and tell the super-sporty-looking shop assistant you’re looking for a bicycle to tour around the area. Leisurely.

He tells you full of enthusiasm a hybrid would be ideal and shows you a few popular models. This one has 24 gears and it has cantilever brakes. That one has a Shimano drivetrain and disc brakes. And here’s a model currently on offer – it has an aluminum frame and hydraulic disc brakes.


You have no idea what the guy is talking about. He makes you feel stupid. You feel like running home and giving up your plan about getting fit again.

Sounds strange?

It happens all the time on websites.

Websites are full of features, specifications, and technical details. But quite often they forget to tell readers what’s in it for them.

What’s your website like? Full of features? Or are you telling your readers what these features mean for them?

Features vs benefits: What’s the difference?

Features are facts about products or services; they add credibility and substance to your sales pitch. But benefits give customers a reason to buy because they explain how your product or service improves their lives. Benefits explain “what’s in it for them.” Persuasive copy requires a mix of features and benefits.

Imagine you’re selling an oven. One of its special features is a fast preheat system. Fast pre-heating is a feature, because it’s a fact about the oven – it explains what the oven does.

To define a benefit you ask yourself So what? :

The oven preheats quickly.
So what?
It’s quickly ready to start cooking your lasagna.
So what?
Your food is on the table sooner.
So what?
Life is less stressful. There’s less hanging around the kitchen waiting for the oven to get ready. And you don’t have to worry you might forget to preheat your oven.

The So what? trick works in any industry:

  • Our doors have strong hinges. So what? They won’t bend when the door is slammed shut a thousand times.
  • We monitor your servers. So what? Your servers won’t go down, so you and your staff can continue working.
  • I write high-converting web copy. So what? You can convert more web visitors into leads and business.

Read through your website and ask for each statement So what? Keep asking So what? to find real benefits.

Real benefits connect to your customer’s desires, such as saving time; reducing costs; making more money; becoming happier, healthier, more relaxed, or more productive.

Let’s say you design beautiful kitchens. You can answer So what? in different ways:

  • You’ll have a kitchen where you can relax and feel at home.
  • You’ll enjoy your cooking more.
  • You can impress your neighbors with the latest kitchen gadgets.

What do your clients really want to achieve? What are they dreaming of?

You can only sell with real benefits if you know what your audience wishes, desires, and secretly dreams of.

Features and benefits are boring

Let’s go back to the local bike store.

The super-sporty-looking guy is now explaining both features and benefits of the bike on offer: These brakes are good, so even in the rain they brake well. The bike has 24 gears, so whether you go uphill, downhill, or cycling on a flat surface you’ll be able to find the right gear. The ergonomic saddle remains comfortable even after a couple of hours of cycling.

You now get what each feature means, and his pitch is far more persuasive than when he was simply rattling off features. But, while the sales guy keeps talking about everything that’s so good about the bike, the brand, the warranty and so on, your mind is slowly wandering off.

An abundance of positive information is rather monotonous and dull. It lulls readers to sleep. To keep your reader’s attention, you need to introduce a problem now and then.

People want to avoid problems and glitches. They don’t want to get any hassle.

So rather than be positive all the time, you introduce a problem, and you immediately draw your reader’s attention.

Almost any feature can be translated into a problem you help avoid:

  • These disc brakes won’t slip when they get muddy.
  • The bike has 24 gears, so you don’t have to worry about struggling uphill – you can use the lowest gear.
  • The saddle is comfy, so you won’t get a sore butt after cycling 20 or 30 miles.

Should you mention a straightforward benefit or the avoidance of a problem? That depends on your reader. What interests her more — gaining a benefit or avoiding hassle? If you’re not sure, ask your customers or test different web copy.

How to describe features and benefits on your website

Your readers are in a hurry as they still need to write a blog post, catch up with the latest news, and cook dinner for tonight.

You have to grab their attention quickly while their cursor is hovering over the back button.

  • Highlight a key benefit (or problem you avoid) in your headline or subhead
  • Use bullet points to list a series of features and benefits, because they’re easy to scan; mention the most important points first
  • Avoid technical language your reader doesn’t understand

How to seduce your web visitors

Your biggest asset as business owner is empathy.

Sneak into your client’s minds.

Learn what they secretly dream of. Understand how you can fulfill their wishes and desires. And how you can help them avoid trouble and hassle.

When you connect your know-how and enthusiasm to your client’s desires, the magic happens. Your business will grow. You can increase your fees. You can drop difficult clients. And have more fun.


  1. Wow. Perfect timing Henneke. I’ve been on the struggle bus trying to understand the features versus benefits concept. You have made it crystal clear. Off to check my website and begin my blog. Thanks for the timely inspiration.
    Kelly Beischel recently posted…Moving from Overwhelm to Action by Reframing Your ThoughtsMy Profile

    • I don’t want you riding on the struggle bus, Kelly 🙂

      Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with?

  2. Thank you so much for this enchanting and enlightening article! I´m about to start a blog on my just launched plus size clothing web site. Your advice is really excellent! By far the best of what I´m reading about writing for the web everywhere else.
    Warmest regards from France,
    Beata Debarge

  3. Selling benefits, not features, is the Number 1 rule of good direct response marketing. (“Sell the sizzle not the sausage”). And I love your “So what” question as a way of identifying the benefits.

  4. Thank you Henneke for sharing your easy to read and informative blog post. It makes a lot of sense as at the end of the day your customers don’t care about you, they care about ‘what’s in it for them’ (WIFM)…well written – thanks

    • Yep, that’s the harsh truth – customers only care about themselves.

      Thank you for stopping by, Jeannette. How’s your website progressing?

  5. I see you practice what you preach by describing the benefits of the So What technique, from headline to closing paragraph. Nicely said. Nicely done.

  6. Thanks for making this concept so easy to understand, sometimes its too easy just to keep writing your blog from your own technical point of view and forget the customer needs to be pointed to the benefits.

    • Yes, the concept is easy, but it can be hard to implement sometimes. I remember writing a me-focused rather than reader-focused email one time. The click-through rate immediately plummeted. That was a good reminder 🙂

  7. Katharine says:

    Hello, Hennecke!
    What a helpful post! Thanks so much.
    As a retired home-schooling mom, I’ve been trying to sell the WRONG thing on my site: the sausage and not the sizzle. I’ve been trying to sell people their own homes and their own children, instead of the benefits of being there with them–nothing but a long list of “ought-to’s”. And my ideal customer secretly wishes someone would sell them the benefits. This explains a LOT!
    I think the entry into my brain is a long, crooked tunnel, like a maze attached to an igloo, but you finally got through!
    I hope…
    Thanks! I may need a booster shot by tonight, but right now, I get it! Thanks! 🙂

  8. I’ve used the ‘So What’ trick for a long time…25 years in fact. But you know what? Sometimes when you come online you forget all that (off-line) good stuff so thanks for the reminder.

    Or perhaps it’s just that the old memory chip is getting a bit worn out – that or my age 😉
    Caroline J recently posted…How Do I Create More Professional Images For My Business?My Profile

    • Yes, a lot of offline stuff is still applicable online. People’s needs and desires have remained surprisingly unchanged. It’s easy to forget that.

  9. Thanks. Now I am going back to my site and edit… 🙂
    Your writing reminds me of this quote ,”The writing is for children and the words are for men”. Forgot where I read this.

  10. Now this I can understand.

    A lot of sites write about value positions, and benefits.

    Leaving you with no idea, how to figure out what the benefits are.

  11. I just taped a piece of paper with the words “so what?” onto my monitor so this concept is front and center when I’m writing product descriptions.
    Carole recently posted…Comment on Vintage Rocker by DianneMy Profile

  12. Great post. I had learned that technique a long time ago, but it is a great reminder and I absolutely love the examples you used.
    Stephanie Calahan recently posted…How to Make Sure You Reach Your GoalsMy Profile

    • Thank you, Stephanie. Coming up with fun examples is one of the most interesting parts of writing (and reading!) tutorials. 🙂

  13. I was wondering why my Blog signups are on the ‘strugglebus’. Maybe it’s because they don’t feel like champions. My whole premise is that they *are* champions. I flatter them too much perhaps. Should I make them feel uncomfortable? Should I be reminding them more of their challenges?

    Henneke, your cartoon is *so* good! The store is not ‘The Recreational Exercise Outlet For Users of Two Wheeled Vehicles”, it’s “John’s Bike Shop”. The features and benefits of the bicycle seat are not described in boring detail. The pain of not buying a new seat is clearly slapped at the reader. Who wants to continue living with a sore butt? I have so much to learn… Yes, I’ve heard it all before. I listen but I don’t practise!!

    • You promise people the “five success secrets of champions” when they sign up – this may arouse curiosity, but the incentive to sign up would be much stronger if you could be more specific about how subscribers will benefit from these secrets. Will they become more productive or more relaxed? What will they learn from your report? How do you make them feel better?

  14. love this. simple. clear. and very, very valuable. thank you!
    daphne recently posted…Making $ as an entrepreneur: when is enough, enough?My Profile

  15. I’ve heard that people care about benefits more than features, but sometimes when you are in the thick of it, it’s hard to tell the difference. I love the “so what?” question, that seems like it will force you to the most simple benefit as long as you keep asking it!
    Blake recently posted…Customer Avatar Creation: The Complete GuideMy Profile

  16. Loved this blog post. I have to say I laughed at the “sell the sizzle not the sausage,” that’s so English. I’ve always heard “sell the sizzle not the steak,” courtesy of Zig Ziglar, a great salesman of years past. I’m new to your enchanted world and I look forward to your blog posts and all the intelligent and interesting comments. I have a post-it on my computer: WIIFM to remind me to consider the customer, “what’s in it for me.”

    • Oh, I had no idea. Do the Brits eat more sausages and the Americans more steak?

      Welcome to the enchanting community! 🙂

  17. This is a wonderful post! I had a client who wanted to write feature spotlights for their software, and I struggled until I implemented the benefits. Wish I’d had this earlier. Thanks for posting!

  18. Hi Henneke,

    I’m glad you had a chance to spin your wheels this past weekend.

    This is a nice little post, and a fantastic reminder about the question “So What?”

    I read the chapter in your first book that went into this technique in more detail, and it just cracked me up. Not because it was funny—because I’d written the same thing in a post about 3-4 years ago. The difference is that yours is written better (much more charming), and apparently, read by more people.

    That makes me very happy, because this idea is so important for people who want to communicate better! We all need to get better at playing the role of overwhelmed reader, who just wants to know ‘what’s in it for her’. Thanks for helping me do a better job with that.

    Best, Jon

    P.S. I’ll send you the text of my old article, just for a giggle

    • Yep, totally agree with you, Jon. We need to help our overwhelmed and distracted readers who want to know quickly what’s in it for them.

      When I can spin my wheels around, I’m happy 🙂

      Thank you for adding your thoughts!

  19. Henneke,

    I liked your idea about mixing up positive features and benefits with introducing problems to keep things from getting monotonous. I’ve heard about the importance of using both features and benefits, but I hadn’t heard much about how to order them to keep readers interested. Good stuff!

  20. Thanks Henneke, a very timely post and highly applicable to my industry – so much so that I’ve shared your post with all of our staff as a reminder to use features and benefits when speaking with our clients.

  21. And yet, what are the benefits of features? And what the features of benefits?
    And once we know: so what?

    😉 sorry, couldn’t resist!
    Kitty Kilian recently posted…Bloggen: hoe blijf je week in, week uit creatief?My Profile

  22. Thanks so much. I am struggling with copy writing so much. I love to write but to entice others to read what I write and to understand simply what I want for them is tough slugging. I will continue to work on my website by now adding this question, “So what?” to help me with benefits. I know benefits are the most important to get them to keep reading.

    I think what i struggle with is that I am so immersed in what I want to do that I begin to feel as if the words I am repeating and reworking over and over are too blase and repetitive and old. But they are that way to me, not my Avatars. They may have never read them before. It’s tough to keep looking at this with a fresh eye.

    • Yes, that’s absolutely true – it can be a struggle to write about something you’re totally immersed in. Speaking to your blog readers or clients can help. Ask them questions to find out what they’re struggling with and what they’re looking for; and pay attention to the words they’re using.

      Thank you for stopping by, Bernice.

  23. Great tips and fantastic reminder to ask my “so what?” whenever clients send through their notes. But you know, many don’t know the answer!
    Rhonda – Le Copywriter recently posted…7 things you need to stop doing to improve your copywritingMy Profile

    • Yes, that’s true. But if we can’t find an answer in our discussions, I suggest they speak to their customers to find out. How can we write persuasive copy if we don’t know what readers are looking for?

  24. Very helpful blog post!

    I struggle mightily with introductions, headlines, and enthusiasm, so I found this blog post to be a huge help to my writing! Thank you!

    So what?

    I know have better blog headlines.

    So what?

    I now have more viewers

    So what?

    I have more conversions and someone to thank for that, YOU!

  25. Henneke, you make my work so much easier! I look forward to receiving your emails, and I love how practical your articles are. I always walk away with at least one new lesson to apply to my own copywriting. THANK YOU 🙂

  26. I prefer to use the comfort of feature-benefit-advantage, answering the questions of
    What is it?
    What does it do (for me)?
    Why is that important (or better)?

    • Yes, FAB (Features, Advantages, Benefits) is based on the same principle as the So What? question and works fine, too. Use what works best for you.

      Be careful with “for me” – this works as long as your wishes and concerns are similar to your target audience’s. This isn’t always the case.

  27. Agreed. “For Me” isn’t literally meant for me as the marketer.

    The question is one you would ask from the perspective of the audience you are serving. AKA, the WIIFM principle. What’s in it for me?

  28. Hi Henneke,

    Thanks for the great article! The ‘What if?’ test is genius. (We will absolutely implement.) Wondering if you would be interested in writing a guest post for our Social Media Strategies blog?

    Let me know if you’re interested. It would be great to get some high-quality narrative writing like yours up there.

    Thanks again!

    • Henneke says:

      Hi Erin

      Glad you enjoyed this article. I’m scaling back on guest blogging commitments, so am not able to take on any new projects for the time being.

  29. Hi Henneke,
    This article is a double-barrelled brainpoke-Aha! moment. Forgive the lengthy comment; I promise it is relevant 🙂 The problem: dull, unsexy HR-led (sadly) recruitment ads with dubious results attracting the right candidates/future employees. I have been wrestling with how to help HR colleagues turn recruitment marketing activities from blah to irresistibly effective. Thanks to your article, a curious but potentially problematic issue of semantics – ‘HR benefits and Marketing benefits’ hit me. I shared the Aha moment and tip to overcome in this week’s Attention-Grabbing blog post. Copious and liberal thanks to you. Keep sharing your super practical and stellar tips.
    Nicole recently posted…2 MORE Attention-Grabbing Candidate Attraction TipsMy Profile

    • Henneke says:

      Yes, I think you’re right – there’s a lot of similarity between recruitment and marketing. Too often recruiters forget that they have to “sell” a job with the right benefits to the right candidates. And too often companies forget the “soft side” of attracting the right candidates. It’s not only about money! Thank you for stopping by again, Nicole 🙂

  30. Great article! Thank you Henneke!

  31. I’ve been enjoying your newsletters so much Henneke! This tip can turn so many things around. Thank you for linking to such fantastic stuff every single time — and have a lovely castle-hopping experience in France! :o)

  32. Great article, Henneke! Love the “So what?” So easy to remember and implement.

    Have a grand holiday!
    Louise Myers recently posted…10 Visual Content Types You Need Right Now: InfographicMy Profile

  33. Dear Henneke,
    I totally get the concept of feature vs. benefits but have a hard time translating it into my photography and videography.
    Thanks for the post

    • Hi Terri,
      It really depends on the niche your working in. Marketers may look for ways to show off their new products, they want the photography to be hassle-free and a quick turnaround. Families may want to capture moments of family life for themselves or to show off to friends. You sell more than a video or photograph.
      Have you asked clients why they choose to work with you?

      • Hi Henneke,
        thank you for the response. I started to think in those terms and you helped me with your examples. I will start approaching different people with different “benefits”. I think the picture is pretty clear now on how to write “copy”. I resisted the word Copy because I am not a copy writer but realized that if we write to market we are in fact writing copy.
        Have a wonderful sunny day even if the sun is not shining

  34. How can I do this for a pet toy entertainment house that is also a pets furniture and shelter?

    • Why do people buy it? Because it looks good? Because it keeps their cat fit, healthy and happy? Because it shelters their dog from the rain? Because it’s easy to keep clean? Because they can impress neighbors and guests with all the “gadgets”?

  35. I was just cruising around trying to find out what web content writing is all about since I would really like to do something in the field of writing/blogging and happened on some of your suggestions. My first thought was, “OK, how much is this going to cost me?” My second thought is, “WOW, she’s giving away some really good information so why not gobble it up while I can?” and my third thought is, “Gee thanks. You explained a lot about web content writing and ad writing and you didn’t use even one 50 letter word.”

  36. Hi Henneke,
    Just to get an idea of the “so what”? can you provide a sample of a sales letter? I’m new in this field, and I’m looking for visual of a sample on the customers point of view.

    Do we ask the customers “so what” or we write it on the letter , or is that something we ask self to get the features and benefits of what we are offering the customers?

    • Henneke says:

      You use the question when you create a list of features and benefits of your product or service, so it’s part of your planning phase. You may know some of the answers, or you might want to ask customers what they’re looking for. If you ask customers, then I’d ask “Why do you care about this?” or “Why does that matter to you?” rather than “So what?” After you’ve gathered all the relevant information for your copy, you arrange it in the right order and write a draft. Here’s more about the proper process for writing copy:

  37. This makes my work easier. When I write reviews about a product for affiliate marketing, I focus on the features but the introduction of ‘So What’ is actually a great idea on how to rephrase features to benefits.

    Excellent guide.

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