How to Capture Attention and Drive Content Marketing Results
Direct marketing copy has a big job: It must persuade the reader that your product or service is too good to pass up. It also has to work hard to capture decreasing human attention spans, which a 2015 study by Microsoft puts at just 8 seconds.
Exercising a little savvy regarding how to incorporate benefits and features in copy can help marketers get a big jump on capturing attention and driving results. Here’s a quick need-to-know guide to help ensure you’re doing it right.
- Know the difference between features and benefits.
Features are facts about what a product or service does, or how it functions.
Benefits describe how those features can improve the user’s life, solve a problem or address an emotional need.
- Feature: Good gas mileage / Benefit: Save money (and the planet).
- Feature: 6-burner stovetop range / Benefit: Cooking for crowds just got easier.
- Feature: 24-hour support / Benefit: Experience less down time.
Companies often mistake their OWN excitement over a new feature – the one that took months of effort, research and money to develop – with how a consumer will feel.
But until the consumer understands what that feature will allow them to do better/faster/smarter/etc., their reaction will be, “So what?” And this leads us to number 2…
- Know to ask “So what?”
Sometimes getting to the heart of a benefit is a little tricky, or a feature can disguise itself as a benefit. To help, put yourself in your client’s shoes and ask “So what?” As in, “So what’s in it for me?”
Example: An upscale clothing boutique offers “personalized service.”
Just mentioning that service is “personalized” might sound like a benefit in and of itself, but you haven’t translated it fully, leaving the reader to draw her own conclusions. (Does “personalized” mean someone will hang clothing in a dressing room and fetch additional sizes? So what? Any store in the mall offers that level of service.)
Asking “So what?” helps you drill down to specific answers that will truly resonate with your audience. So what’s the end result of personalized service? How about: “Be the one to bring the wow factor. With professional, one-to-one consultations and custom tailoring, be best-dressed at your next special event.”
Example: Consider a mailer from a radiology clinic with the headline “All-New 64-Slice CT Scanner Now Available.” What does that mean to a patient?
What if the mailer announced, “Get Peace of Mind with Faster, More Accurate Diagnostic Capabilities”? That’s the one speaking directly to a patient in need of these services – addressing their worries and helping solve their problems.
- Know how to use features to support your benefits.
Features do have a place in your marketing collateral: they back up your benefit statements so they don’t sound like inflated claims.
Example: A healthcare marketing department may frame maternity care services in terms of benefits, such as a “worry-free” labor and delivery experience, or “home-like comfort.”
Well, why exactly will the experience be worry-free? Back up the claim with features: all board-certified OB physicians, the latest monitoring technology and the availability of a Level III NICU. What makes the unit “home-like”? List amenities: all-private rooms, extra beds brought in for family members, and warm, cheerful décor.
Note that depending on your audience, it may be appropriate to lead with features. If you’re writing for an experienced audience likely to already be familiar with benefits, it can be more effective to take a features-driven approach to explain why your product or service is the better solution with more to offer.
Example: Marketing that 64-slice CT scanner needs some translation to help patients understand the benefits. But an announcement to other providers is a different story. This audience has the knowledgebase to understand what the high-tech features mean.
- Know where to incorporate each.
Keep in mind that these are general guidelines – exceptions always exist.
Benefit-driven copy should be used for:
- Initial statements that further serve to hook a reader’s attention.
- CTAs – action-driven benefit statements can be particularly powerful. Example from a lighting company: “Perk up in a lighter, brighter home – request a free quote today.”
Features are best used in:
- Bullets or sentences to support a benefit statement
- Tables, charts or other graphics serving as an at-a-glance reference guide listing product or service features. (Although it’s a good practice to incorporate benefit-driven column headers in these types of guides.)
Up the Impact of Your Next Campaign
Plymouth Meeting, PA-based Strata Company combines award-winning creative with superior data practices to help clients get results beyond expectations. Contact us to speak with one of our direct marketing experts.
About Katrina Denk
Possessing over 10 years of experience leading strategic and tactical marketing efforts of some of the area’s most respected businesses, Marketing Director Katrina Denk brings a wide breadth of knowledge to every initiative she oversees. Whether it’s a product launch or a multi-touch email campaign, she understands all the ins and outs of the marketing mix. In her free time, Katrina is an enthusiastic world traveler and animal lover.