A Closer Look at Features and Benefits

There is much confusion among contractors as to what they consider to be a feature and what they consider to be a benefit of their service.  All too often, contractors focus on the features.  They believe their websites and marketing materials should highlight just their features.  In turn, that will help encourage prospects to give them a call, inviting them to bid on their service needs.

However, very often, features mean nothing to the customer.  It’s the benefits that are important to them.  The following example might explain this better:

A customer is interested in a stove sold at a mega-retailer.  The marketing for the stove indicates that it includes features such as a self-cleaning oven, a smooth stovetop, warming bins, and that it has convection capabilities.  While an experienced cook will likely understand the benefits of some of those features, another customer may not.  So let’s turn these features into benefits that those of us who are not “foodies” can better understand.

•    Self-cleaning ovens have been around for a while.  While mentioning this feature, the manufacturer could add the following: “our self-cleaning oven saves you hours of work.  It is fast, safe, and thorough.”

•    Smooth stovetop.  To better understand the benefit here, it can be added that a smooth stovetop, “is much easier to clean.”

•    Warming bins.  Warming bins not only keep food warm while it’s waiting to be served but can help minimize the growth of bacteria that can happen when food is left out to cool.  It would help to add:  “with our warming bins, food is kept warm and safe until its ready to serve.”

•    Convection capabilities.  I have to admit, I’m stumped.  I’m not even clear what a convection oven is so how can I understand what its capabilities are.  This feature is confusing, making it much harder for the customer to realize what benefits it might offer.  Pointing out the benefits is especially crucial for this type of unknown feature.

When we are discussing products, it’s relatively easy to decipher what is a feature and what is a benefit.  However, when we consider services, things can become a bit more complicated. 

For instance, two different painting companies say that their staff includes “experienced painters.”  However, one company takes this a step further.  They indicate that their painters are not only experienced but have been trained and certified by a leading national painting contractors association.  “This ensures that they know how to paint your building properly, safely, and cost-effectively.”  Now, that’s something the customer can relate to and feel comfortable with.

This leads us to the most important point.  Moving away from the concept of listing features and putting more emphasis on the benefits to the customer can help separate your company from competitors.  You can list all the features you want, but ultimately, the customer is going to select the business that helps them understand why they are benefits.

Ron Segura is president of Segura Associates. His company works with large and small contractors helping them build their businesses and streamline business operations so that they can reduce costs and operate more profitably.  He can be reached through his company website at seguraassociates@msn.com