Now we’re going to talk about features versus benefits, but not like everyone else does.

Everyone else says “Tell the customer how they will benefit from giving YOU their hard-earned money!”

Our approach is more “Figure out why the customer would actually WANT to give you money in the first place, as opposed to spending it on anything else. Then mention THAT.”

Essentially, you’ll make a lot more sales thinking about why the customer cares about the purchase. (We already know why YOU want them to buy.)

Features are something you offer. Benefits are what that something MEANS.

If you write really compelling characters, that’s a feature.

For a reader, being able fall in love with a character is a benefit.

If you write really intricate plots/subplots, that’s a feature.

The fact that your reader will be glued to the page, guessing all the way to the end is a benefit.

See the difference?

(If you’re saying “Yes, Naomi, I know what a benefit is,” then keep reading.

Here’s something you probably haven’t thought of.

A slightly different approach to benefits you might want to consider.

Everybody wonders “How can I get people to BUY?”

Very few people wonder “Why are they buying from other people right now?”

Two very different questions. And two very different answers.

Focus on the first, and you’re on the road to learning how to more efficiently twist people’s arms and getting your graphic artist to make you bigger, brighter “Buy” buttons. That should probably say “Buy right NOW!!!!”

Let’s not think about that for the moment.

Why are they buying happily from competing authors?

Well, there can be a lot of reasons.

It’s your job to figure them out.

Maybe they’re buying from competing authors because those authors are really, really connected with their audience via social media and their polarization and differentiation come through in spades.

Maybe they’re buying from competing authors because THEY spend more money on their cover designs than you do, and readers feel like if it looks that great on the outside, it must be good on the inside.

Maybe they’re buying from competing authors because those authors are hustling their ass off getting reviews from influential websites who yammer on and on about how they fell in love with your characters.

It’s easy to think your writing is SO good and SO worthy that if people aren’t buying from you, they’re being unreasonable and should know how good your stuff is.

But they aren’t being unreasonable.

If they don’t know how good your benefits are, it’s probably because you’re not finding the right way to make sure they NOTICE.

When you can position your benefits in the language and the venues that THEY care about, now they’re listening. And soon, they’re buying.

Because your writing can’t just be GOOD. Every writer says their stuff is good. You have to understand how the reader discovers that a particular piece of writing is good for THEM.

And specifically, why it’s good enough that paying you is a better idea than holding on to their money.

How to actually do this.

The first step is simple. You basically list out all the features of what people get when they read your writing.

They get well-developed characters or intricate plotlines. They get insightful treatment of important subjects and concepts. They get a non-stop adventure. They get a step-by-step guide to X. Whatever.

Ok, now you’ve got that. On to the second step.

Now look at all those features and write down why those things are good for the reader in and of themselves.

They can get lost in a story they’ll never forget. They’ll be so hooked by your plot they can’t put the book down and they tell their partner “I’ll be with you in JUST a few pages.” Or they can see hard concepts made easy. Or they’ll know exactly what to do next when they’re done with your book. In other words, they get some level of happiness about the thing that they’re reading.

Ok, now you’ve got that. On to the third step.

Now, look at all of those Very Good Things and imagine they had to borrow money from Joe to buy these benefits from you.

Which means they have to justify it to Joe, who lent them money for this other thing that didn’t really make them happy, and Joe remembers the experience.

What would make Joe feel like lending that person money would be a good idea? Joe would have to be pretty sure that the benefit was real and valid and going to actually happen.

“Joe, this book looks really great!” isn’t going to cut it, because Joe doesn’t care. Lots of books look really great.

But “Joe, you know that really wonderful mood I get into after I spend the weekend tearing through a book that lets me get a little bit of escape from thinking about how much time you spend at the dry cleaner store”?

THAT has Joe’s attention.

THAT’S something real.

And that’s what gets the Visa card out.

There’s a lot more to a benefit than just the benefit.

Yes, benefits are good. But in order to get them selling your books, they have to be meaningful as well.

Not intrinsically meaningful. Specifically meaningful.

So today, think about what you do, and what general benefits it gives to your readers.

Then think about why that’s meaningful to them. Then think some more. When you think you’re done, keep thinking.

Eventually, you’ll end up with ideas that you can communicate that will actually lead to sales, because the reader will realize that finally – FINALLY – someone understands what they want out of the things they’re reading.

That’s your job.

Put some time into this one. The more you understand why your readers want to buy, the easier it will be to make them feel comfortable doing so.

Now, let’s move on to the fifth and final lesson.