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Putting the 'why' before the 'what'

Monday, December 4, 2017

Putting the ‘why’ before the ‘what’

Yes - it’s that old chestnut - The Tweedledum and Tweedledee of commercial copywriting,
features and benefits.

I can hear the collective groan - “Oh not that one!  Everyone knows the difference.”

But do they?
If so, some have a funny way of showing it.

Only the other day, I was looking for paintbrushes.
I found some on a famous DIY website and this is what they told me -  

  • Bristle Type: Synthetic
  • Interior or Exterior Use: Interior/Exterior
  • Type: Paint Brushes
  • Includes: 1 x 0.5in brush, 1 x 1in brush, 1 x 1.5in brush, 1 x 2in brush, 1 x 3in brush
  • Pack Quantity: 5

Now that’s fine.  I now know the ‘what’.

But what about the ‘why’?

I need to know why I should buy these brushes.
How are they going to turn me into the next Michelangelo?
Or at least, how are they going to help me to decorate the
downstairs loo quickly and efficiently?

Here’s a way to be sure you’re stressing the benefits of your products
or services.  After every statement you make about them, challenge
yourself with
“So what?”

Let’s say you’re promoting your amazing new Bison Vacuum Cleaner.

You might write like this -

Feature - It’s lightweight (11 lbs.)
So what? - You won’t strain your back carrying your Bison up and down stairs. (Benefit)

Feature - It has on-board accessories
So what? - Save time. No more searching for the furniture brush. (Benefit)

Feature: It’s bagless
So what? - Save money. No more bags to buy. (Benefit)

Feature: 5-year warranty
So what? -Peace of mind. No worries if your Bison packs up. (Benefit)

You may well understand the difference between features and benefits but are you giving enough emphasis and space to the features?
They really matter and should be highlighted at the beginning, middle and end of your copy.  And this is true in many different areas of copywriting.

Let’s take newsletter subject headings -

Not this - New 11 lb 50-watt Bison vacuum cleaner in stock now.
But this - Save your back and your pennies with the new Bison vacuum cleaner.

In short, give up most of your writing time, space and intellectual energy telling your customers
how your product or service will change their lives for the better.











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They really will.

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