This is part two in our Copy Matters series.
One simple way to make your copy more engaging is to write about benefits, not features. Readers want to know what’s in it for themselves, not what’s in it for you. So write for them, not for you.
Features are all about you. It’s the checklist of whatever you have to offer. Certainly you care about it, but it doesn’t mean anybody else does. Features are how many services you offer and the incredible music and the coffee hour. But most people don’t come to church (or buy anything) because of a list of features.
They do it for the benefits. Benefits are all about them. How does this church service (or product) benefit them? The spiritual change, the fellowship, the community–those are benefits. While features are external, benefits are internal. Benefits are all about what people get out of it, what they experience, what’s important to them.
A quick example: A car dealer is selling features when he talks about the hybrid engine. He’s selling benefits when he talks about how much you can save on gas and how you’re doing something good for the environment.
Another example: The salesperson at Best Buy talked features when she told me the cell phone we were looking at had 512 MB of memory (what does that mean?) and could access the Android Market (so?). Apple talks benefits when they say an iPhone can hold 5,000 songs (how the feature of memory can benefit me!) and their commercials say ‘There’s an app for that,’ (how the feature of apps can benefit me!).
When you write copy for your church it’s tempting to talk features. But don’t. Talk about how the features can benefit your audience:
- Don’t just talk about your 57 varieties of small groups, talk about how everyone can find their place with small groups that appeal to every interest. How many small groups you have is a feature, why you have them is a benefit.
- Don’t just say the business meeting is at 7, say you’ll be celebrating what God has done over the past year and looking ahead to what he’ll do this year. The hum-drum details of your business meeting are features, but why people should care about your business meeting? Benefits.
- Don’t just encourage people to check out the new Facebook page, encourage people to invite their friends and share their church on Facebook. Having a Facebook page is a feature, what you can do with a Facebook page is a benefit.
Features are important, but they’re not the hook. Features are the fine print, the back of the brochure, the stuff you can put online. The benefits are what people care about and that’s what you should primarily be writing about. Put the benefits in the bulletin, the announcements, the postcard and the tweet. Put the features on your website. Make your headline about the benefits. Put the features in the body copy.
There’s always room to talk about features later. Features are the fine print. But the hook is the benefits.
- Check out the full Copy Matters series.
- Or get those resources and more in our ebook, Getting Started in Church Communication: Copy Matters. It’s a guide to writing and editing for church communicators.