Answering the Age-old Customer Question, “What’s In It for Me?”

Marketing experts continually remind us that our customers are always asking this question.  In The Little Blue Book of Advertising by Steve Lance and Jeff Woll, the authors reiterate the essential need for businesses of any size to identify and understand the differences in the features, advantages and benefits of their product or service. 

Thus from this comparative analysis, you’ll want to develop marketing messages that incorporate those items that personally mean the most to your customers and prospects.  Remember that your customers are bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands of marketing messages each day.  By applying this strategy, your message is more likely to reach them and/or tug at them in an emotional manner. 

So to get started, let’s examine features, advantages and benefits.  A feature is a statement of fact about some aspect, element, or prominent part or characteristic of a product or service.  Features can often be the technical jargon your industry uses on a daily basis, but the end user may not understand or relate to such terms as GHz or network interface card. 

An advantage helps the customer or user in a specific manner, i.e., something the feature provides or delivers to the user.  An advantage can also describe how the product or service is better than an alternative feature, and/or a feature offered by the competition.   

A benefit is what the consumer or user gains from the feature and/or your product.  For many products, start by thinking of the problem or problems your product or service solves.  The benefit is what you want to offer and sell to your customers and prospects.  As stated above, customers are primarily concerned about themselves and want to know how a product benefits them.  In an on-line article by Laura Clampitt Douglas, the author recommends thinking of benefits as the end “result” for the customer.  So if you prefer, interchange the terms benefits and results. 

Research indicates the following are some of the primary benefits sought by a purchaser.

  1. Improve quality of life / save time / life made easier / high reliability
  2. Save money
  3. Save lives / safety concerns
  4. Improve health and well being
  5. Improve one’s status – wealth / appearance

After you develop your message, always remember to test it.  Ask non-vested people or some of your customers for their feedback.  And don’t be surprised if women have a longer list of benefits since they tend to seek a solution to a greater number of needs and wants.   

I thought it would be helpful to provide some examples to start your creative process.  Codes are “F” for feature, “A” for advantage and “B” for benefit/result. 

F: four wheel anti-lock brakes

  • A: help the car stop faster
  • A: safer than the competition’s car
  • B: save the consumer’s life 

F: non-stop airline service

  • A: gets the passenger to his/her destination faster (compared to a one or two stop itinerary)
  • B: save the consumer’s time 

F: wireless mouse

  • A: less wiring and fewer cords on top of desk so it’s clearer
  • B: customer can be more organized and effective 

F: clothes soap with more cleaning power

  • A: clothes get cleaner
  • A: improve your appearance
  • B: customer may feel and look better 

F: over-the-counter cold medication

  • A: purchase without a prescription
  • A: stop a runny nose
  • A: relieve congestion
  • B: improve customer’s health and/or she/he feels better faster 

F: accepting credit cards

  • A: no need to have cash at time of purchase
  • B: customer convenience 

F: feature, advantage, benefit analysis

  • A: makes one sit down and truly think of the benefits from the customer’s perspective
  • A: develop more effective marketing messages
  • B: improve the return on your advertising    

If you would like more information about this strategy, contact Kate at 817-488-2761 or