Many companies and people confuse what they mean when discussing Value Propositions, Benefits, and Features.

Be clear with your product marketing.

Value Proposition:

Definition: A value proposition is the concise statement of the overarching solution to your customer’s problem.  The solution then is not your product or its technical details, but the solution your product or service provides; i.e. the end result, the value given to the customer.

Example:

Fountain of Youth: Instantly rediscover youthful energy, health, beauty, and a sense of wonder.

The difference between Benefits and Features

Many professionals confuse the terms Benefits and Features.

A feature is an actual, factual, or functional statement about what a product can do.

A benefit answers the question “what does your product or service do for me?” in ways that resonate with the target audience.

Benefit:

Definition: Benefits are outcomes consumers get from using our products. Benefit statements answer why, not what.

There are different types of benefits. Make sure you create at least a few different types for each product line to maximize the effect.

There are objective benefits, psychology benefits that hover around trust and peace of mind, positive emotional benefits such as confidence or satisfaction, emotional relief benefits that thwart a negative feeling like safety or peace of mind, problem solving benefits are targeted to specific gains such as whiter teeth, economic benefit, and vanity.

Example: Fountain of youth:

  • Objective: regain your youthful energy and vigor
  • Psychological: the only authentic tonic from the actual fountain of youth
  • Positive emotion: feel your youth restored instantly, radiate
  • Emotional relief: never feel old and useless again
  • Problem solving: feel like yourself at age 12, even at 70
  • Economic: for only $15.99 a month you can restore your youth
  • Vanity: You’ll look better than all the ladies on the tennis team

Pro Tip: If you tend to utilize just one benefit approach by default, explore another type or two—it may be a welcome refresher to your marketing. Make sure each product line has three-to-five benefit types.

Feature:

Definition: Features are facts or attributes about a product or service. Features describe what actually makes your product valuable or extraordinary for a consumer. Everything from “two-inch insulated fabric” to “our nurses complete 30 additional hours of continuing education each year” are features.

Example: Fountain of youth:

  • Four ounces change your molecular structure back to its 12-year old self for a month.
  • Now in a Funnel Cake flavor.

Now, here is the last bit of advice for this guide. Work backwards.

  1. Compile a list of your product features. Leave room to add your value proposition and benefits later.
  2. Go back over your feature list and write in one or two advantages of each.
  3. Put yourself into your prospective buyer’s shoes, and develop a benefit statement for each advantage.

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Michael speaks and publishes frequently on topics of innovation, corporate culture, and sustainable business growth. In addition to being a weekly columnist for INC. Magazine and Innovation Excellence, he is a published author and a co-founder of the Memphis Innovation Bootcamp. After years of advising over 100 companies from mid-size to Fortune 500, Michael has a wealth of learning to offer.

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