Increasing Readability: Features vs. Benefits
You might be tempted to think that a discussion of features vs. benefits would be sterile, to the point, and uninteresting. Well, think again. Here’s a quick pop quiz you can take right now. Think of a regular yellow pencil with an eraser on it. You know, the kind that costs about 79¢ a dozen. Now, grab a sheet of paper. On the top left-hand side of the page – write features, and on the top right-hand side of the page – write the corresponding benefit. Write as many features and benefits as possible. Be as specific as possible. To help get you started, one feature is that it’s six inches long. That’s a feature of a pencil. Now, what’s the benefit of a six-inch long pencil? Go ahead – write it down.
Make sure you actually do the exercise, it’s pretty revealing. When you’re done, compare your list to this list. We’ve listed 20 basic features along with the following corresponding benefits. See how your list compares:
1. Six inches long
Lasts an average of five months
2. Clay / graphite composition.
Lead doesn’t break easily, even under high writing pressure
3. Pre-fired graphite.
Produces dark, legible line
4. “E-Z-rase” additive in graphite.
Easily erasable, yet doesn’t smudge
5. Core-locked Lead
Won’t break inside of pencil
6. Made of specially grown pine
Easy to sharpen, yet break resistant.
7. Hexagonal shape
Easy to hold onto while writing
8. Lead is cradled evenly along
Sharpens quickly and reliably every time the entire length
9. Bright yellow paint.
Easy to see / find
10. Paints are non-toxic.
Can chew on pencil without danger of
11. Silver-embossed pencil name
Easy to remember when re-ordering
12. Silver-embossed manufacturer
Reinforces brand awareness
13. Silver-embossed hardness number
Identifies hardness, won’t use wrong
pencil on test
14. Silver-embossed lettering (general)
Nice to look at; feels reasonably
15. ‘Core locked USA’ embossed in
Encourages ordering American-made wood products
16. Metal ring grooved in two directions
Easy to hold while erasing; fingers
17. Seamless aluminum construction
Prevents scratching on metal seam
18. Bonded to wood by pressure
Eraser is secured, stays rigid
19. “Flex-o-rub” composition eraser
Erases quickly and cleanly, with just
20. Eraser bonded to pencil with holder
Will never fall out during use and super glue
So, what do you think? Not bad for a pencil that costs 79¢ a dozen! Can you believe that we could even come up with 20 different benefits? You would think that a list of features for a pencil would include almost nothing! Think about this list and then think about your products or services. What kind of features can you think of? Write them down – anything and everything you can think of – and then write the corresponding benefit. This exercise can be very revealing.
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