Benefits, Not Features

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Benefits, not features: this is the mantra I repeated perhaps every week to my class when I was teaching New Media Communications at Centennial College.  During our unit on writing for web, during our unit on social media: “Benefits, not Features”. I would tell my students that every time they are tempted to write the word “I”, they should consider how they might change it to “You”.

It is a great way to make sure you are really thinking about your clients or your customers, and not just talking about yourself: what are the benefits they are seeking?  What’s in it for them?  It’s what we generally want all advertising to do: Stop talking about yourself!

I found out the hard way how difficult this actually is when I recently delivered a pitch to a potential client, and said all the wrong things.  We were the right people for the job.  I knew what they needed and was certain we could deliver better than anyone else, and the only thing I needed to do in the pitch was convince them.

So I talked about all of the fabulous features that we had to offer: our media background, the fact that all of our employees were journalists , that I had worked in a newsroom…I talked about how we were usability experts and how experienced we were at dealing with very complex tech.

I used the word “I” A LOT.

And then: we didn’t get the job.  And I thought back to the questions they asked me that I was uniquely unprepared to answer and I realised how I had completely missed the mark, because I hadn’t at all addressed their actual need.  They needed to hear how working with us would make their lives easier, how it would save them money and time.  They wanted to know how to better manage their staff and streamline internal processes.  They wanted to hear how they would find our technology solution easy to understand and how it would make them feel on top of their game.

I spent all my time talking about how perfect the project would be for us, about our features, and none of the time talking about the benefits that working with us would bring to them.

Benefits, not Features.  Listen to yourself: are you saying “I”?  Turn it into a “You” and see what happens!

Christine McGlade is a Business Analyst, Content Strategist, and Usability Consultant.  With over 25 years experience in the media business, Christine helps small business, social enterprise, and Not for Profits how to leverage the power of the Internet to grow their business.  Learn more about Christine at

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