Features vs Benefits

I recently listened to The Health Fit Biz podcast Episode 20 in which they discuss the importance of emphasising benefits over features when selling your services or product.

They share the classic example of Steve Jobs introducing the original iPod's benefits of "1,000 songs in your pocket" rather than the feature of "an MP3 player withing 5GB spinning hard disk."1

It helped me realize why I have trouble with the whole sales thing: I do care about features over benefits.


  1. http://www.apple-history.com/ipod ↩︎

Ignorance is vulnerability

See, I'm the guy that goes to Apple's web page to checkout a new product, and immediately click on the Tech Specs page.

Ryan DeBell claims that people don't care about the tech specs, they just want to know the result. That is likely true for the average person. But I've been tricked into buying a product based on its benefits when those claims were lies.

I recall visiting a street fair during my undergraduate years where all manner and sorts of food, art, and healthcare products were being sold. One caught my eye because of the benefits touted on the banner, so I entered the booth to examine it further.

The product was a topical pain reliever made of "pure sulfur" that would be absorbed into the skin "through the protein layer of the cells." I was just starting my journey into skepticism at this point, so please forgive my snark, but I asked the sales rep how it was "pure sulfur" when the label clearly listed sodium sulfacetamide(^I can't remember exactly what the sulfur ingredient was. But it certainly wasn't just "sulfur" and even if it were the much simpler sulfur dioxide, it's still a compound.), which has a chemical composition of N’-[(4-aminophenyl) sulfonyl]-acetamide, monosodium salt, monohydrate1. I then educated him on the structure of cell membranes which are phospholipid bilayers absent of a "protein layer"2.


  1. https://www.drugs.com/pro/perrigo-sodium-sulfacetamide-and-sulfur.html ↩︎

  2. though, since then I realize they could have intended to mean the protein channels embedded in the cell membrane, but that is not the same thing as a protein layer. ↩︎

 N’-[(4-aminophenyl) sulfonyl]-acetamide

N’-[(4-aminophenyl) sulfonyl]-acetamide

Healthcare benefits

This isn't to say that sulfur has no medical benefit1, but that the explanations given are often - if not frequently - inaccurate and any educated consumer should examine the claims.

In today's healthcare marketplace, ineffective treatments not only exist but are very commonplace. It is the patient/consumer's right to understand not only the claimed benefit, but how that benefit is to be achieved.

If you tell me, "Hey, we make shoulders feel better so you can workout pain free", I want to know how - is it with magic crystals, or a treatment that has been tested and verified with science? Plenty of people claim to help you be able to 'workout pain free.' Gertrute does it with essential oils, Pete does it with shiny tools, Mark puts a colorful tape on you, and Athena holds magic crystals over your head.

Any educated consumer should be asking how you plan to achieve said benefit and why your approach is better or more effective than everyone else's approach to getting there.

Sure, sell me on the benefit, but then back it up with the relevant features.