The Secret to Writing Copy That Sells

Have you seen the AT&T commercial with the cute exchange between the installer and the girl who is excited she’ll be able to post from the break room? Either way, take a minute to check out the commercial:

I love this commercial -  and not just because it makes me chuckle. The first time I saw it, I was already thinking about this blog post. It’s the perfect example of the difference between features and benefits. The features and benefits of your products and services are two important but different pieces of content for a brand. Having shiny and useful features is important, but when it comes to sales, you’ve got to be able to translate those features into benefits for the consumer.

When it comes to purchasing, the consumer wants to know one of two things:

1. “What’s in it for me?”

2. “How does this solve my problem?”

Listing a ton of features doesn’t answer any of these questions for the consumer - no one cares because no one understands. Just like in the commercial:

“We’re fine tuning these small cells that improve coverage, capacity and quality of the network.”


These features, while important, mean nothing to a consumer until you translate them into how they benefit the consumer: “It means you’ll be able to post from the breakroom.”

Features are great, but if you want to make the sale you’ve got to write copy that focuses on benefits.

How To Translate Features Into Benefits

Let’s start with the definition of both:

Features describe attributes or characteristics about your product. They’re factual and tend to be nouns.

Benefits are why your product/service features matter to your ideal customer. Chances are, you’ll see way more verbs than nouns when you’re writing benefits.

Writing features and benefits are are important steps when creating foundational content for your brand to stand on. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Make a list of features for all of your products and offerings.
  2. Write down why those features were created or are important.
  3. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and write reasons why they would care about a feature.
  4. Read each benefit and ask yourself if the benefits you wrote are actually compelling.

Copyblogger has a great post on turning features into benefits (Does Your Copy Pass The “Forehead Slap Test”). They warn against writing “Fake Benefits” and suggest a great test (“The Forehead Slap Test”) to make sure your benefits are true benefits.

The Forehead Slap Test:

“Have you ever woken up from a deep sleep, slapped yourself in the forehead, and exclaimed [insert benefit]?” If the answer is no, then you’re not likely to convince anyone else that your so-called benefit is worth their money.

If you can successfully translate your features into true benefits that either solve your ideal customer’s problems or relate to them on an emotional level you’ll make more sales guaranteed. 

Here’s one more example for you:

Benefits of the Find Your Brand Voice Class:
The BrandVox class, Find Your Brand Voice: Personality for Business Success, will help you gain more word of mouth, more sales referrals, more loyal customers and increased brand awareness by teaching you step by step how some of the world’s biggest brands develop a brand voice that people fall in love with.

Features of the Find Your Brand Voice Class:

  • 53 Page E-book that helps you create a comprehensive brand voice style guide

  • You will learn the research behind how people fall in love with a brand

  • Learn step-by-step how to develop your foundational content

  • Learn how to find your brand voice sweet spot

  • Discover your brand’s personality

  • Gain access to the Brand Character Profile

  • Learn how to have a consistent brand voice across your organization

  • Learn how to roll out your new brand voice to your team

  • This is an online course that can be done at your own pace

  • The project steps make it easy for you to implement what you learn as you learn it

When Features Become Important

So, what do we do with all those features? Do we just throw them out and never use them? Of course not! Like an ace up our sleeve, we just need to know the right time to pull them out.

When people make purchase decisions, they follow a pattern: AIDA. First, they become aware that your product or service even exists. Then, they become curious and interested. In both of these situations, emotionally charged benefit-driven language will help your potential customer move closer and closer to a sale.

But then, a switch flips. In the next phase, the decision making phase, we start looking at things more rationally. We don’t want to be taken for a sucker, so we crave those fact-focused features to help us know exactly what we’re getting. This is particularly important if you have a highly technical audience.

Apple does a great job at this. They use benefit-driven hooks and soundbites to pique interest, but when you dive deeper into the purchasing process, you’re presented with meaty comparison charts filled with features galore.

In the last phase, we are trying to encourage action, so it’s time to ask for them to do something. This is our call to action and the more specific you are about what to do next, the more likely you are to get a result. Typically, a call to action on a website will be in the form of a button with specific text.

So, now that you know the difference between features and benefits, and more importantly, when to apply each one, you’re armed and ready to make some sales. Keep us posted on your progress in the comments!