Benefits vs. Features

Abby and I have been cell phone shopping (for her, not me—I still can’t justify it), and surprise, surprise—it’s delivering great marketing lessons.

We’re comparing Android phones on Virgin Mobile’s no-contract plan, and the way they pitch the phones is pathetic. They’re talking about features instead of benefits. They tell you all the phones features, but they don’t talk about how those features actually benefit you. And most of the time in their rush to tell you features, they just keep telling you more and more features to the point that they’re completely useless.

  • A clock? Seriously? That’s the feature you’re going to brag about?
  • I can send email on the phone? Wow. Every smartphone you sell does that. And it’s not like we’re looking at smartphones and non-smartphones side by side where the ability to send email would be worth pointing out.
  • RAM: 512 MB. What does that mean? Later on we get “Internal Memory Size Limit: *ROM 512MB,” followed by the asterisk explanation: “* Usable ROM is less than usable RAM by 152MB” I’m a pretty tech savvy guy, but I’m still lost.
  • Access to the Android app store? No.

Those are all features the company keeps lining up like they’re aiming for bragging rights. What they don’t realize is that they’re making it harder and harder for a customer to choose a phone.

Instead, they should talk about benefits. A feature is that you can access the Android app store. A benefit is that I can find an app to do anything I want, whether it’s track my budget or calculate tip.

Wait, that sounds familiar. How does Apple advertise its app store? Oh yeah: “There’s an app for that.”

Give people benefits instead of features. Apple figured that out and it’s why the iPhone is everywhere.

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