When I meet with clients and we discuss what they want to include in their marketing about their product or service, they often start telling me about all the features of what they offer. It doesn’t really matter what the product or service is; the features normally aren’t all that marketable. What is marketable and what consumers respond to are the benefits.

When Apple first released the iPod, they didn’t make a big deal about how the device had a 5GB hard drive: they boasted about how it could store 1,000 songs. I remember a family trip to Florida when I was in high school and I had to decide which precious few CDs would make the trip. With an iPod, that struggle would be obsolete! I didn’t care about the feature (5GB storage space), I cared about the benefit and how I’d never again have to decide which CDs to bring and which to leave home on a trip.

When Xerox first introduced the Xerox 9200 Duplicating System (one of the first commercial printers to be able to print on both sides of the paper), the successful sales teams didn’t talk about how fast the printer was or how it could print on both sides of the paper, they talked about how much time and money the printer would save a business. Printing fast and on both sides of the page is a feature and really not something that a consumer can buy into. However, by stating, “Our printer will save you time and money,” the salesperson is now communicating in a way consumers can really connect with.

The benefits of your product or service might not be blatantly obvious to you. If you have questions about this, ask your customers. Simply invite some of your best clients out for lunch or coffee and ask them what it is about your offering that they connect with. People love being valued, and when you ask them these questions, you are not only gaining valuable insight but you’re also putting the focus and appreciation on them.

Once you know what the benefits of your products and services are, look over your marketing material. Are you talking about the features or the benefits? Are you selling the feature (5GB of storage space) or are you selling the benefit (bring 1000 songs with you wherever you go)? While the features are important to know, the benefits are what actually build loyalty and success.

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