Sell the Benefits of Your Book–Not the Features

Customers don’t buy books so much because they want a book. They buy books because they want a solution of some kind. Marketing campaigns that focus on selling the features of a book ahead of the benefits make the incorrect assumption that their readers will automatically understand why they should buy it. Proper communication of the benefits is crucial in order to make a sale.

Here’s a Common Example of the Difference Between Features and Benefits:

This line tries to sell the “features” of a new pair of gloves: “Buy our waterproof, breathable, soft-shell work gloves today!

This line sells the “benefits” of those features: “Keep your hands warm and dry while maintaining ease of movement during your entire outdoor work day!

The first advertisement focuses only on the features of those gloves and assumes potential customers will understand how a “waterproof, breathable, soft shell” can benefit them. But what if those customers have just moved to Canada from a tropical island, and they have yet to experience a humid, winter climate? What if they haven’t worn gloves to do outside handiwork before now? How will they understand the true benefits of these particular features unless you spell it out to them ahead of time? Those customers may not realize it yet, but they aren’t just buying a pair of gloves … what they’re buying is the ability to do their job outdoors as comfortably and easily as possible.

Here’s a Non-Fiction eBook-related Example:

This line tries to sell the “features” of a new eBook cookbook collection: “Our new eBook cookbook collection contains a wide variety of favourite family recipes for busy moms!

This line sells the “benefits” of those features: “Now busy moms can enjoy peace of mind and some extra spare time with this vast collection of favourite family recipes all stored together in one compact, easy-to-find place!

What busy mom couldn’t use some peace of mind and extra spare time? And wouldn’t it be nice to have all her favourite family recipes quickly accessible to her in a sleek, new digital eBook format rather than having to search through several tattered, old cookbooks to find what she’s looking for?

When you’re thinking of ways to sell your cookbook, remember your customers aren’t just buying recipes from you … what they’re buying is the ability to care for their families (and themselves) in as easy a way as possible. On that note, some readers may not recognize the true benefit of buying an eBook ahead of a paperback in this situation unless it is spelled out for them. I’d also be willing to bet a busy mom would pay a good dime for the convenience (value) of having all her recipes together in one searchable eBook file, so this is a prime example of a time when authors can definitely set their retail price a bit higher. ($45 for one eBook cookbook that replaces over $350 worth of tattered, old cookbooks? Fair deal? I think so!)

Here’s a Fiction Paperback-related Example:

This line tries to sell the “features” of a new paperback fantasy novel for adults: “This new paperback fantasy novel contains over 250 pages of action and adventure as Harold The Great treks through the magical world of Myth.

This line sells the “benefits” of those features: “Curl up on your couch with the quiet comfort of this paperback fantasy novel tonight. Escape from reality into Harold The Great’s magical world of Myth … and feel all your stresses melt away.

Some people still love the way a good paperback novel feels in their hands, and they’ll buy one over an eBook any day. Grab their attention in your benefit statement. Appeal to their emotions by reminding them why they love to read paperback fantasy novels so much.

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It’s important to take some time to design a marketing strategy that focuses around who your customers are, what needs they have, and how your book can meet those needs. Writing down a list of your book’s features is helpful in the sense that it can provide you with a good starting place. But don’t stop at the features. Dig a little deeper to determine the benefits of those features to your readers. That extra time and effort can make a world of difference to your sales.

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