If you want to convince anyone – from the person on the street to the woman in the boardroom – that your product or service is just what they need, you need to promote the benefits of what it has to offer.
It’s Copywriting 101.
Time and time again, however, you see copy flying around that’s far too in love with the product itself to ever make the deeper connections that guarantee sales.
The copy parades the product in front of the reader, serenading and busting out joint-twisting dance moves as it lovingly describes feature after feature in the hope that something stands out.
And, given the right feature set and the right audience, it can indeed do that… but with nowhere near the impact that it would if those features were backed up by some impactful benefits.
It’s a common mistake made by writers lacking a full grasp on copy that sells.
Because you’re not just presenting your product for evaluation – you’re offering a transformation.
A better, easier life.
You’re offering the end point. The result that your product or service delivers.
Fact is, to get it right you don’t need to be a marketing genius.
You don’t need to be the most evocative of writers.
You just need to take a little time, step back, and dig deeper into what you’re offering.
And here’s an easy technique that’ll help you uncover deeper benefits and take your copywriting to the next level…
Ask the Question: “So What?”
Every time I use this method, I crack a smile in remembrance of my rebellious teenage years.
1996, to be exact. There I was enduring the entire live presentation of the MTV Europe Music Awards, waiting solely for the moment when Metallica, hot off of the release of their image-changing album, Load, would hit the stage.
Julian Clary and the boys from East 17 were having a bit of trouble with technicalities, but then the announcement happened and Robbie Williams cried out…
I turned the volume up, ready to rock.
The first chord rang out. And I ended up in tears of laughter…
Metallica weren’t playing what they were supposed to. Instead of anthem King Nothing, James Hetfield and Co. proceeded, on live television in a prime time slot, to perform a double-bill of punk covers Last Caress and So What.
The latter being the kind of horrific swearing-laden audio assault that would turn your mild-mannered Aunt’s hair white.
Turns out that the group were informed, in rather rude terms, before they went on stage that no swearing was permissible during the performance. Taken aback by the attitude, they decided to show what happens when you don’t ask nicely.
You can find the result on YouTube nowadays. If you do go there, just don’t say I didn’t warn you. You may find the lyrics highly offensive.
What they did actually got Metallica banned from any and all future MTV award shows, and all mention of them including the performance was removed from future airings.
Yet I still go back to that moment of rebellious joy that I’d been lucky enough to catch, every time I break a product down in order to begin copywriting.
Because the song itself is based on two simple, but powerful words: So What?
Ride the Train of Consequences to the Finish
You find the benefits by asking yourself, “So What?”
And you get even deeper into them by continuing to ask that question against each answer… riding the train of consequences all the way to the finish.
What this means is, take a feature of your product – let’s say it’s an application that includes Cloud storage of important files.
What can Cloud storage do? It keeps your files stored securely online. (This is a feature.)
So What? Well, you can access them easily as long as you have an internet connection.
You’ve just reached a benefit. But it’s only surface level. Let’s go further.
Take that benefit: Well, you can access them easily as long as you have an internet connection.
And add another “So What?”
Well, it means you don’t really have to lug your laptop or storage drives around with you when you’re travelling!
Now we’re getting somewhere. Again: So What?
Since you aren’t carrying important data around with you, you’re less likely to lose it.
Losing it would be bad! You could get fired for that! (Unless you’re in a high-ranking government position, amiright? Wink wink.)
A-ha! Now, completely avoiding the threat of losing your job due to a moment of lapsed concentration or someone else’s determined theft is a pretty good benefit if you ask me.
It’s one less serious thing to worry about. Life’s already full of too many worries.
Of course, things can get silly when you continually ask over and over again, but by the time you reach that point you’ll have a sheet of golden drivers that your copy can use to motivate the prospect into a purchase.
And this is just a single feature.
Moving on, for example, if the app syncs the files automatically for you then it’s saving you time copying them elsewhere.
It also saves you the stress of forgetting to save, forgetting to back them up in the event of computer failure etc.
Boil those down using “So What?” and the time saving part can make you more productive >> get more work done >> congratulated for performance >> get noticed by superiors >> be respected >> get promoted >> become the CEO (now it gets silly… or not, depending on where you want to go for your prospect’s mindset!).
Or even just save you time at work so you can get home more quickly and spend more time with your children.
You see where this is going.
And you can branch off as you ask, because as you can see a single feature might have multiple benefits.
Just separate them into two strands, and question yourself over each one until you’ve reached the stop at Silly Town.
Hop off there, review what you have at each step of the breakdown, and see which is most likely to fit best into your reader’s ideal life.
And then that’s what you tell them.
It does THIS (feature), which gets you to HERE (the desired, beneficial result from your breakdown).
So the next time you’re writing copy for your products, services, events or anything else – don’t just slap descriptive features down on the page and call it a day.
List ‘em out, step back, and say it over and over again… So F****** What?
You’ll be amazed just how much difference it makes… because the reader isn’t just turning your product around in their hands while they purse their lips and consider the cost – they’re imaging how much better life would be with your help.
And who can say “So What?” to the vivid promise of a better life?
About the author: Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones is a freelance copywriter, proofreader and journalist based in Nottingham, UK. With close to a decade of experience writing content and copy within the film industry, he also specialises in direct marketing and consumer/corporate case studies, connecting business messages to their target audience, increasing response and driving revenue.