The Feature-to-Benefit translator clinic...
Featuritis is something many copywriters fall into. People request features, and it can be tempting to simply use feature lists in place of copywriting.
A site feature might be a Cascading Style Sheet. The benefits are being able to update the look and feel by making changes in one file, rather than every page. Can you imagine scrolling through 25, 50 or 100 pages looking for every incident of the <font> tag and changing it? Even then, you might only want to change certain sections, not others. With CSS, change one file and you're done.
People tend to list the feature, then leave the benefit up to the reader to imagine. Unfortunately, everyone can have the same feature, but usability, suitability to task, and how groups of features are organized can vary widely.
A feature would exist if you had zero users. A benefit only exists through use, which implies a task, objective, and how well the feature allows the user to reach their objectives.
Benefits are the language of the much talked about "user experience."
Ease-of-use can be a benefit. Much more often ease-of-use is a meaningless buzzword. Benefit rich copy would translate to "User testing has reduced the time it takes to perform [named task] by one third, or reduced [A, B, C] user errors by fifteen percent."
If You Really Loved Me You Would Read My Mind
Does your web development company "work with me to learn my requirements." Well that's nice. One question though ...who doesn't?
I call such generic filler "If you could read my mind" copywriting. If the clients "only knew" your years in business have taught you a lot, they would do business with you.
....Because you use a checklist that eliminates five embarasing, but common, mistakes a web site can go live with before anyone catches it. And no employee can upload a design without signing off on each item.
....Because you have a four-step requirements gathering process that gets projects done in half the time of newbies.
....Because only experienced interviewers gather requirements you get on the client's wavelength quicker, with fewer misunderstandings which cost time, effort and money.
Somehow I get the impression that the people writing such copy think if the client really cares enough, they'll take the time to figure out the benefits. The idea seems to be clients will read things into the copy that simply isn't there because, well, I don't know why.
Rest assured if you don't spell out a compelling reason to contact you, there won't be a meeting to spell it all out later.
If Only There Were a Way...
If only there were a way to explain without telepathy. ....If only there were some kind of "thing" which would help potential clients understand how satisfied they would be, once they started doing business with you. ....If only customers could find something on a website that explained how different your business is.
The biggest problem in web development is the illusion communication has taken place. Not just between web site and user, but between developer and client. That's why I can't keep from smiling when a web developer types the generic "we listen" boilerplate into their layout.
Everbody "listens." And yet the misunderstandings happen anyway. It would be a refreshing change to see someone articulate the procedure they use to make sure communication happens.
An article Marketing Features vs Benefits has this amazing quote "...not one in 10 businesses really understands the difference. And that's one of the main reasons most small-business marketing efforts don't work!"
Lots of people can write a CSS file. Fewer understand visual flow or merchandising design.
Good Designers Redesign, Great Designers Realign translates a feature into a benefit. Unlike many web copywriters, Cameron Moll understands he has to make the distinction.
Why not post your features here, and use this thread to seek help translating features into benefits.