Features and benefits. At first glance, those words may seem basically the same, but when it comes to real estate copywriting, there’s a big difference:
- Features are the tangible attributes used to describe an item (“3,000-square-foot home”), a product (“latex outdoor paint”) or service (“24-hour roadside assistance”). In short, features define the thing.
- Benefits take that list of raw features to the next level, explaining how those things will positively impact the user. They explain what the item, product or service will accomplish; what the consumer will gain. In short, benefits sell.
To use a food analogy: Features are the cake, while benefits are the icing – and you don’t serve one without the other.
When considering a home, buyers want to know that it has a big picture window, an expansive deck and a new roof. But you need to sell the benefits of those features, too. If you focus on features alone, that means you’re relying on the reader to noodle all those attributes and figure out the associated benefits. Most people are too busy and distracted to do much of that. More than likely, all those carefully worded features descriptions will sail right in one ear and out the other with little to no impact.
When it comes to convincing prospects to make a purchase, you need to explain exactly what’s in it for them; you need to spell-out the benefits of each feature – as in these examples:
Example 1 (feature-focused text)
This house features a large, fenced backyard with many plantings, a large Trex deck and alley access to all the utilities.
Example 1 (rewritten to focus on benefits)
The lush, fully fenced backyard offers real privacy and year-round color. The deck is more than large enough for grilling and outdoor entertaining, while the low-maintenance Trex construction means no more seasonal staining. Plus, the pedestrian-friendly alley offers easy access to out-of-sight garbage and recycling amenities.
Example 2 (feature-focused text)
At LifeStream, you’ll find a full selection of free-weights, 10 Universal and six Cybex machines, a full-size aerobics room, plus a caring staff with more than 40 years of combined physical fitness experience.
Example 2 (rewritten to focus on benefits)
With a complete collection of Universal and Cybex machines, plus a full selection of free-weights, LifeStream offers something for every type of body – without the overcrowding you find at other fitness clubs. In the expansive aerobics room, our high-energy instructors can guide you through a variety of challenging routines just about guaranteed to shed those extra pounds. Plus, one-on-one training is always available for those who desire the rapid body-sculpting results only a personal coach can deliver.
As you can see, the rewritten examples above are still chalk full of features and facts. Those things are still front-and-center. But the revised text also clearly states the consumer advantages of those features, products and services. That’s what will get your target market to sit up and take notice.
The bottom line: If you want consumers to hand over their hard-earned cash, you need to convince them that the benefits of your products and services will improve their lives in some tangible way.