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:
FEATURE – BENEFIT(S)
1. Six inches long – Lasts an average of five months.
2. Clay / graphite composition – Lead doesn”t break easily, even under high writing pressure. Pencil sharpens to a fine point.
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. Prevents injuries from splinters, even if broken.
7. Hexagonal shape – Remains stationary on desk – Easy to hold onto while writing.
8. Lead is cradled evenly along the entire length – Sharpens quickly and reliably every time.
9. Bright yellow/orange paint – Easy to see/find.
10. Both paints are non-toxic – Can chew on pencil without danger of poisoning.
11. Silver-embossed pencil name – Easy to remember when re-ordering.
12. Silver-embossed manufacturer name – Reinforces brand awareness. Advertises company, trademark, etc.
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 classy.
15. ”Corelocked USA” embossed in wood – Encourages ordering American-made products.
16. Metal ring grooved in two directions – Easy to hold while erasing; fingers won”t slip.
17. Seamless aluminum construction – Prevents scratching on metal seam.
18. Bonded to wood by pressure molding – Eraser is secured, stays rigid.
19. “Flex-o-rub” composition eraser – Erases quickly and cleanly, with just enough “give”. Impossible to smudge paper, eraser won”t crumble.
20. Eraser bonded to pencil with holder and super glue. – Will never fall out during use.
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.