Copy Matters: Benefits, Not Features

Copy Matters: Benefits, Not Features

March 7, 2012 by

This is part two in our Copy Matters series.

One simple way to make your copy more engaging is to write about benefits, not features. Readers want to know what’s in it for themselves, not what’s in it for you. So write for them, not for you.

Features are all about you. It’s the checklist of whatever you have to offer. Certainly you care about it, but it doesn’t mean anybody else does. Features are how many services you offer and the incredible music and the coffee hour. But most people don’t come to church (or buy anything) because of a list of features.

They do it for the benefits. Benefits are all about them. How does this church service (or product) benefit them? The spiritual change, the fellowship, the community–those are benefits. While features are external, benefits are internal. Benefits are all about what people get out of it, what they experience, what’s important to them.

A quick example: A car dealer is selling features when he talks about the hybrid engine. He’s selling benefits when he talks about how much you can save on gas and how you’re doing something good for the environment.

Another example: The salesperson at Best Buy talked features when she told me the cell phone we were looking at had 512 MB of memory (what does that mean?) and could access the Android Market (so?). Apple talks benefits when they say an iPhone can hold 5,000 songs (how the feature of memory can benefit me!) and their commercials say ‘There’s an app for that,’ (how the feature of apps can benefit me!).

When you write copy for your church it’s tempting to talk features. But don’t. Talk about how the features can benefit your audience:

  • Don’t just talk about your 57 varieties of small groups, talk about how everyone can find their place with small groups that appeal to every interest. How many small groups you have is a feature, why you have them is a benefit.
  • Don’t just say the business meeting is at 7, say you’ll be celebrating what God has done over the past year and looking ahead to what he’ll do this year. The hum-drum details of your business meeting are features, but why people should care about your business meeting? Benefits.
  • Don’t just encourage people to check out the new Facebook page, encourage people to invite their friends and share their church on Facebook. Having a Facebook page is a feature, what you can do with a Facebook page is a benefit.

Features are important, but they’re not the hook. Features are the fine print, the back of the brochure, the stuff you can put online. The benefits are what people care about and that’s what you should primarily be writing about. Put the benefits in the bulletin, the announcements, the postcard and the tweet. Put the features on your website. Make your headline about the benefits. Put the features in the body copy.

There’s always room to talk about features later. Features are the fine print. But the hook is the benefits.


Getting Started: Copy Matters - "Bad writing tries too hard to impress."

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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7 Responses to “Copy Matters: Benefits, Not Features”

  • Niven Spence
    March 8, 2012

    Absolutely Brilliant! I have often struggled to translate my business writing skills into good church copy. I am a marketer and have a passion to make church marketing work , and be as effective as possible. I am also part of our church’s creative team and we are in the process of relaunching a new logo/visitors package etc. This article has been very helpful!

    Thank you very much

    Niven Spence

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  • Ronaldo Patrocinio
    March 8, 2012

    We should take note, however, not to over-spiritualize the “benefits”. Not that they are not true; we just need to constantly remind ourselves that our target audience may not always be on the same page with us especially on our spiritual walk.

    (And yes, we should avoid the übercliché “Come and be blessed!” It’s just… overused.)

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  • Glenn
    March 9, 2012

    Great pointers. My background was in sales — I was not a “natural” and had to learn it — but I liked the products I sold and had no idea why it was so hard to get people to get the same impression of the product I had. Well I had forgotten that people who had not used the product had no way to know what the “feature” really meant.

    The one pointer I might add is that you have to really listen to people for awhile before you launch into benefits or features. You have to start with the benefits that effect them most directly, and then let them discover the other benefits as you talk to them.

    I designed a MasterCard promotional program for a bank. I had to learn all about that bank’s credit card(s), and I made up some test marketing material to try out on customers — charts, graphs, feature/benefit cheat sheets for the sales people. Well the customer’s eyes glazed over and they would walk by. Finally, I thought of the people at a location — what they were there for, and went with two(2) features only and asked people solely those (travel points, and US dollar card). Finally people would stop to talk about travel and particularly to the USA — shopping, children at school, vacations. Great conversations suddenly.

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  • Kevin, it’s so true. Most people simply come to know what’s in it for them. The post has been very useful.

    Thanks for sharing this informative post,

    Crystal Wayne.

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  • Adam
    March 15, 2012

    Excellent point, thanks. I run 2 sites, a blog for myself and our church site, now I think I need to go back over some of the pages and rewrite them. Feel free to take look at our church site, any suggestions will be welcome.

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  • Aaron
    April 21, 2012

    Excellent post. Instant bookmark for future reference.

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