Features vs benefits: 5 tests for defining the best benefit

A common mistake is confusing features and benefits. When developing a positioning statement, one of the key ingredients is in identifying the most compelling benefit relevant to the target audience or persona. Here’s 5 criteria to help guide you to selecting the best benefit.

Features are things like: it’s red, shaped like a circle, is made of wood. Benefits are about an outcome: saving time, improving productivity, or achieving a higher level of measurable success. The following 5 tests can guide your positioning statement.

1. Is the benefit singular and specific? Be focused on a single benefit (or a small collection of benefits that fit logically together). When marketers try to include a data sheet full of features disguised as benefits, they confuse the marketplace and look foolish.

2. Is the benefit relevant? Just because a benefit is true to you, it may not be relevant to the target persona. Ask “so what?” and challenge your assumptions.

3. Is the benefit sustainable? Is this something you can claim for very long? A benefit related to speed and productivity is only valid until a competitor does it faster.

4. Is the benefit believable? Will the target audience laugh at your benefit or shrug it off in disbelief? Will they believe your company’s ability to deliver the benefit? How does this compare against current perceptions about your company?

5. Can you substantiate the benefit with proof? Avoid producing marketing hype. Make sure you have data and evidence to support any claims you make.

For more information, examples, and case studies on building, critiquing, and defending a positioning statement, please see The Marketing High Ground: Positioning Statements.

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