When trying to persuade others, what makes the biggest impact in convincing your audience to do what you want? Part of the answer includes understanding how three different aspects of a product or service work together. These are features, advantages and benefits. In this post I’ll explore what these are and how they can impact your effort to persuade.
It is helpful to think about features, advantages and benefits as a series of layers.
At the base are features. Features are the technical specifications, facts or distinctive attributes of something.
Using the example of a kickball, the features include …
- No edges or corners
- Brightly colored
Advantages are at the next level. Advantages are what it does better than competitors. It also includes the positives of what you are promoting. Why would someone want to use your product or service vs something else?
Continuing with the kickball example, advantages might include …
- Easy to kick and catch
- Satisfying bounce
- Minimal impact
- Easily visible
- Available in many sizes
The top levels are for benefits, attributes that relieve a problem or fulfill a desire. Benefits provide the value, and often address an emotional need.
For our kickball, benefits include …
- Play interactive games
- Allows all ages to play
- Unlimited fun
- Learn and improve eye-hand coordination
- Practice good sportsmanship
The ultimate benefit taps into larger life goals and addresses basic human motivations. Another familiar stack depicted as a pyramid is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It starts with basic physiological needs at the bottom and ends at the top with self-actualization. Ultimate benefits are a good fit with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Benefits must be customized for your audience. For our kickball example, assuming we are making a sales case to teachers, any of these would be great ultimate benefits …
- Build lifelong memories with friends
- Develop self-confidence
- Master interpersonal skills
- Develop empathy
Sign up for travel miles (credit card offer)
- Feature – 100,000 miles after signing up for a travel credit card
- Advantage – Enough miles for a round trip for two anywhere in the world
- Benefit – Take the trip you’ve always dreamed about
- Ultimate Benefit – Trip of a lifetime for free
- Feature – Filled with polyester/down blend
- Advantage – Retains body heat
- Benefit – Well-rested
- Ultimate Benefit – Explore the outdoors in comfort