It’s the benefits, stupid

Speak to any copywriter, and you’ll hear a familiar refrain: benefits, not features. Seems simple enough. But in practice, it’s not always that easy. We all have a natural tendency to describe things literally: ‘This is a luxury 4×4 , with soft leather seats, an onboard computer and 15 different seating configurations’. Those are the features. The benefits? They’re not always that obvious. A friend of mine owns just such a monster, and when I asked him about it, he was in no doubt what the best thing was. “People look at me differently,” he said, without a moment’s hesitation. A benefit indeed. Take any piece of good copy, and you’ll see that it’s benefit-led. But you’ll find even more that are relentlessly feature-led. Just the other day, I came across a flyer at my gym: ’10 Reasons to have a Personal Trainer’. Mentally, I started rewriting it. 1. A Personal Trainer will get you to your exercise destination with minimal steps, there is no quicker way to achieve your goals. [Their punctuation, not mine.] Get there faster. 2. A Good Personal Trainer will progress you at the correct pace for you as an individual, therefore preventing under and overtraining. Work at your own pace. 3. A Personal Trainer can adjust each exercise each time you come in, depending on your individual circumstance for that session. Get the most out of every session. 4. A Personal Trainer’s knowledge means that you will never struggle to find an exercise, a Personal Trainer will always have an alternative to an exercise that you struggle to do. Make it easy. — I’m sure you can see a pattern here. Pulling out the benefit appeals directly to the reader, and grabs their attention. And that’s important – this notice was on the inside of a locker door, so it got only a fleeting glance. I’d elaborate each snappy heading with some detail, but not too much. The copy was far too long, considering where it was. By the time I made it to number 10, I felt as if I’d already worked out. For a moment, I even thought about using a personal trainer. But just for a moment…