Features Vs Benefits

Or: Why the emotional payoff sells your thing more than what they’ll actually get

The truth about marketing and copywriting and PR and social media and sales and anything that uses the internet to get people to buy stuff is:

every single strategy you use only works if you understand that every single buyer you have buys with their emotions. 

Doesn’t matter if they’re buying a sales enablement agency to sell their multi billion dollar IT company or they’re buying goose gumboots for their fowl, they buy with their emotions first and bring in their logic afterwards to convince themselves they made the best choice.

So, if you’re focusing all your beautifully hard won, hard written copywriting techniques on selling the tangibles (AKA the features) rather than showing the reader they can be hero of their own story and solve their own problem with your help by showing them the emotional payoff (AKA the benefits) of doing just that…

Well, no wonder people are clicking off your page.

Features are things.

Benefits are payoffs.

Why do we buy the benefits?

OK, if you haven’t already heard me bang on about brand voice being the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD – where on earth have you been? Hop along here, here, and here to find out why brand voice is the bomb diggity and how to get one for your good self.

A brand voice is the tone and personality seeping from every time you write a sales page to every time you answer a comment on your social media. From your press releases to your print marketing advertising copy. From your speech writing to your Facebook lives to chatting about your business on the street (you know, when we’re allowed to do that sort of thing).

Brand voice is your business personality shining through your words – recognisable without visual cues. So, if you stripped everything back, would your ideal clients be able to recognise you. Eloquent brand voice will position you as the authority for your industry, easily identifiable in your zone of genius.

In addition, it’s the backbone for all your team, employees, and advocates to get on the same page, singing the same song, creating a kind of magical brand voice choir – just for your business.

When I teach this in a presentation, it’s usually at this point attendees start thinking, “cool Jay, but what if we’re a team?”

Absolutely no different.

Your brand is an entity. 

It was born from one person, one idea, one human. Sometimes that one human brought in other people as part of the brand voice choir, sometimes not. Your brand voice is also an entity. It’s not exactly you – it’s a human-sounding voice describing human emotions to humans who need to know about your stuff but if you’re a team, the humanity still has to be the same, only you have a chorus rather than a solo.

Sounding like humans is not going to damage your brand. 

Knowing your client psychology means you know they’ll buy with emotions first – so be moved by the benefits, and then check out the tangible things they get or how it works – the features – later.

Culturally, historically, through generations of evolution, we’ve learned about what we need through the human voice and storytelling – so we’re psychologically built to listen for a human voice and use it to help us make big risk decisions – either big financial or big emotional risks.

Fabbo, now what does that actually look like in copywriting?

Let’s use Sales Pages as an example.

If you are selling website development and design to brand new, never owned a business before startups, and you asked the question:

“Wouldn’t you love a with a fully optimised, SEOd, custom CSS website?”

Their answer could possibly be;

“I have no idea what you just said.”

And fair enough.

Because your questiony headline (which is a good technique, if it’s the right question) hasn’t got the right hook.

It’s aimed at the wrong audience.

And you’re going to get a thought, “NOPE” rather than a resounding, “Yes, take my credit card details already!”

The problem with this headline isn’t just you’ve missed the mark with your brand voice development and associated ideal client avatar work, you’ve also missed the mark to sell the biggest element in the headline:

Because you’ve focussed on the features – not the benefits.

You’ve highlighted the tangible deliverables, instead of the emoooootion.

And emotion sells.

Where do you need to be most effective with your emotional and benefit-laden hookyness?

In your headline – because that’s what’ll tug on the heart and belly (be fair, where else do we make our big risk decisions from?) and have your thing half sold before your person ever reads the second sentence of your Sales Page.

Now, if you, website designer and developer wrote in your headline:

‘What could you do if your website went out into the internet and captured drop-down-falling-in-love clients to your door?’


‘And you didn’t have to worry about any of the tech?’

That would be selling the solution – and – bonus – a sidestepping of the mental turmoil website tech delivers.


Yes, we need to know what we’ll get when checking out your offer.

More importantly, we need to know how we’ll feel. 

Lead with benefits and emotional payoffs, back it up with tangible features.

And ta da! Your copywriting just got 4726% (a guesstimate) better.

Some Crisp Copy links may be affiliate links - like the ones in this blog. Hello, recurring income is amazing and don’t we all want to work smarter? Howbeit, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t think is absolutely the coolest thing since Botox parties. Also, howbeit is the grooviest word in this post. Yes, totally copied this disclaimer from the bottom of my emails - I'm so amused I'm fully prepared to repeat myself. 

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