How can sustainable brands craft more effective product descriptions? My tip for nailing features and benefits
When selling ethical products online, it can be easy to jump straight into describing the sustainable materials they are made from, the low-impact processes used, or the fair practices you support. These are all fabulous features which make your product ethical, unique and perfect for the right kind of customer. But stopping there is a mistake if you really want to get more browsers clicking ‘add to cart’. Don’t worry – there is a simple but powerful copywriting technique which I’m going to share with you today: features and benefits.
Nailing the difference between features and benefits – and then using them correctly – is crucial if you keep getting browsers that are failing to buy. No, it’s not about mesmerising customers to buy from you if your product isn’t right for them – it’s about getting them to realise that your product is right for them if that is genuinely the case. Here’s how you can give your features the benefit of the doubt.
Features and benefits sound slightly abstract. I like to think of features as describing, and benefits as persuading.
Features are useful and often essential. When buying a sofa, you need to know if it fits in your lounge. So the feature might include the dimensions, the colour, the fabric used.
But benefits communicate exactly what advantages your product brings. This could be saving money, saving time, or as abstract as how it makes your customer feel. Going back to our friend the sofa, the benefits could be:
- Size – big enough to accommodate the whole family as they spend time together
- The look and feel it gives the living room
- If it’s an eco-friendly sofa – the feel-good factor and guilt-free conscience that comes with knowing the workers were well-paid and materials are sustainable
Let’s say you sell luxury, personalised wedding invitations made from sustainable materials. You could list the features as follows:
- Serif font with calligraphy accents
- Printed on high quality paper
- Can be personalised
- Made from sustainable materials
Does this instantly make you want to buy? Can you visualise how the invitations fit in with your big day – not just functionally, but emotionally too?
Not necessarily. Enter benefits.
It is notoriously difficult to pinpoint benefits – even copywriters confuse features and benefits sometimes. So I’ll let you into a little secret. Look at the list of features and follow each with the phrase ‘which means that…’:
|Serif font with calligraphy accents||Which means that||Classy design sets the right tone for your big day|
|Printed on high quality paper||Which means that||Luxurious finish makes guests feel special|
|Can be personalised||Which means that||You can showcase your taste and personality|
|Made from sustainable materials||Which means that||Your wedding is not negatively affecting the environment|
Once the benefits get a look in, browsers can instantly get a sense of how the invitations you create can be an integral part of one of the most emotional days of their life.
Be as specific as possible – repelling some customers is fine if it manages to persuade your ideal customers.
Finally, don’t assume that benefits are self-explanatory. What may be obvious to you may not be obvious to your customers.
If you sell products that are kind to the environment, or have a low impact, shouting about the features only can be a bit like preaching to the converted. The converted may know that organic cotton uses less chemicals than synthetic materials. But someone just dipping their toe into sustainable fashion may need you to explain why this is beneficial to them and the environment.
Make sure your copy isn’t just features flying solo – make sure you include both features and benefits. Or if you have to choose, just choose benefits.
PS – got some copy that you’re struggling to get right? Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s puzzle through it together!