One of the most important things to understand when writing web, blog or social media copy for your business is the difference between features and benefits.

Too often, surf businesses focus too heavily on features instead of benefits, which can cost you dearly in terms of conversions and sales.

In this blog post, I’ll explain the difference between features and benefits. And show you how to focus more on the latter in your marketing so that you capture customers’ attention and get them clicking.

Keep reading to learn more!

What are features and what are benefits? Why is it important to know the difference between the two?

Like the Rule of 3, knowing the features and benefits of any brand is essential, but it’s even more important in the surf sector where there’s such massive potential for an emotional connection between business and audience.

Not sure what the difference between features and benefits is though?

Features refer to the physical characteristics or inherent attributes of a service, establishment or product, such as size, location or offerings. If we take a surf camp by the beach as an example, one feature could be that it’s located within walking distance of a great beginner surf spot.

Benefits, on the other hand, refer to the advantage of those features – what they can do for the customer and how they can change their life in either a minor (but memorable) or significant way.

Taking our excellently located surf camp for example once again, you might mention that being so close to a beginner-level wave means that your guests can spend more time in the water practising instead of driving to and from the beach every day.

As you can see, the feature here is the camp’s location. The benefit is the extra time in the water for your guests. Knowing the difference between features and benefits is essential to creating content that resonates with your audience since the advantages of a service, location or product are more likely to stick in a consumer’s mind than the features.

Why are benefits more important than features when it comes to marketing a surf biz?

Benefits are much more important than features when it comes to marketing products and services in the surf biz because they provide the customer with a greater understanding of why the service or product is valuable for them.

Benefits are what make a product or service appealing to customers and can help set one company apart from another. Features on the other hand (while often presented incorrectly as “benefits”) don’t do anything to illustrate how your product, location or service offers value.

Consider the following.

You could tell prospective guests that your surf camp offers beautiful rooms, fantastic food and a great atmosphere – but this doesn’t really differentiate you from 95% of the competition, does it?

Instead, you should focus on how those features benefit your customers by mentioning that they get to experience luxurious comfort in beautiful boutique-style suites and enjoy freshly cooked breakfasts that fuel them up for an amazing day of surfing. You could then finish off by stating that the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly; ideal for those looking to make friends with fellow surfers.

See how that works?

By focusing on the advantages of your features, you can create content that connects with potential and present customers in a flash.

How can a surf business use benefits to reach customers on an emotional level?

Want to learn how a surf business can add a little extra zing to its outreach? Here are some ideas for how to use emotional benefits to reach customers:

  • Connect your benefits with the “saving” principle. That is, demonstrate how your benefit will “save” a potential customer time or money. For example, let customers know that with your “Kids Surf For Free” program they can save on surf lessons for their children.
  • Focus on convenience by emphasising how your benefit will make life easier for potential customers. For example, you could highlight how your “Free Delivery” policy allows customers to get their surf gear delivered right to their door.
  • Use the senses to create a more vivid customer experience. For example, convey to customers how your “Sunset Surf Experience” will give them the chance to feel the sand beneath their feet, hear the waves crashing against the shore and smell the ocean air. Cliche? Maybe. Effective? Most definitely.
  • Finally, highlight how your feature contributes to the big picture. This means making your customers feel like they’re part of a larger mission or purpose. For example, if you have a “Tree Planting” program then let customers know how they are making the world a better place by being part of it.

Are there any considerations to keep in mind when thinking about features vs benefits?

What you’ve just learned about features and benefits will put you in good stead going forward. But there’s one other consideration to keep in mind when tacking features and benefits.

That is, there are literally countless benefits that you could expand upon when considering a product, but you have to be careful not to overload your audience and actually focus on what matter to them.

This means you’ll need to figure out which benefits have the greatest impact on your customers (and place them prominently on your consumer-facing pages). And which ones could fall more into the “secondary benefits” category i.e. they could be better used on a FAQ page.

Taking our favourite surf camp on the sand as an example once again, it’s very obvious that being located near a beginner-level wave is a great feature. But to say that the main benefit of staying this close to a friendly surf spot is that you can always hear the waves might be missing the market (even though it’s a nice thought).

A more effective benefit would be that the closer you are to the beach, the less time you spend strapping surfboards to your car roof or negotiating traffic in order to surf amazing waves.

So you see? It’s not that difficult.

Just remember that while features are what describe various aspects of your product, service or location, it’s the benefits that really sell it.