If in doubt, leave it out – my rule for avoiding common grammar mistakesApril 28, 2017
The four letter word you need to avoid to make your writing greatJune 19, 2019
It’s a common mistake made by millions of businesses and one any great copywriter will want to fix first – a focus on what you do, not how the reader can benefit.
This lazy style of writing is pretty easy to spot – there will be more mentions of we or I than of you.
A focus on your business and what it does will make your copy feature-led, that’s to say – here’s all the stuff we do. This is a pretty big turn-off for a reader, because you are making them do all the hard work to figure out what benefits you can offer them.
By focusing on the benefits of your product or service, the reader is more easily converted and better understands why they should buy from you.
Features vs benefits in copywriting
Here’s a simple example of features versus benefits. The features of a toaster could include:
- Toasts four slices at once
- Adjustable heat and time controls
- Available in a range of colours
That list written as benefits would be:
- Get breakfast ready faster by toasting four slices at once – no more hungry clamouring from the kids!
- Achieve the perfect level of toasty-ness for everyone with easy-to-set adjustable heat and time settings
- Save valuable worktop space and reduce clutter with this compact design
- Complement your kitchen’s décor or add an accent to your scheme with our range of colours and finishes
See how you now don’t have to do any hard work to imagine how that shiny new toaster will fit into your life?
Leading with features instead of benefits is the single biggest mistake small business owners make when writing their own website. Heck, it’s the single biggest mistake average copywriters make because they don’t challenge the client’s heart-felt belief that their website should be all about them. Newsflash: it’s all about your clients, not you.
How to avoid this easy mistake
When writing your next email, proposal, webpage or leaflet, ask yourself one of my husband’s favourite questions: so what? Essentially you want to get to a simple explanation of why anybody should care about each of the points you want to make.
If it’s easier, write the way you want to, then go through the process as a second stage to convert what you want to say into benefits-led copy. And test it on someone. You never know, they might come up with more benefits that you can weave into the piece.
Of course, it helps to have a good idea about who you’re writing for – see my blog on what you need to know about your audience for more on that topic. And you’ll also need to be clear on the purpose of the piece you’re writing – what action do you want the reader to take as a result?
Why don’t you take a look at one of the pages on your website to see whether you’re guilty of this simple mistake? Let me know how you get on with re-writing it, and if in doubt, feel free to use our editing services. We’re quite friendly as long as you can cope with being challenged!