Selling Features Versus Selling Benefits

Are your marketing messages persuasive?


Can you rank the following statements in descending order of most persuasive to least persuasive?


A             -             Our engineering labs have modern equipment.

B             -              Because our engineering labs have modern equipment, you will learn how to work with the equipment that is utilised by the      leading companies in industry.

C             -              Because our engineering labs have modern equipment, you will learn how to work with the equipment that is utilised by the leading companies in industry. Therefore, you can be confident that you will be job-ready by the time you graduate.


If we were to ask 1,000 people to rank the above 3 statements in order of persuasiveness, you could reasonably expect that most people would say that the most persuasive message is Statement C, followed by Statement B, with Statement A being the least persuasive of the three.


Do you know why Statement C is more persuasive than the other two?


The difference between selling features, advantages and benefits


  • Statement A is a statement about a feature of our engineering labs. A feature describes a characteristic of a product or service. Features are relatively neutral, both in their content and in their effect on the prospective buyer.
  • In addition to the feature, Statement B also includes an advantage that the feature makes available to a prospective buyer. An advantage describes how a product, or a product feature, can be used or can help the buyer. Advantages are typically more persuasive than features.
  • Statement C represents one way for a seller to describe the product which is even more persuasive than simply using advantages, and that is: by selling benefits. Statements which show how the buyer's needs and motivations can be met by product features, and advantages are called benefits.


Why is it that selling benefits is more persuasive than selling features?


The reason why communicating benefits is more persuasive than simply communicating features, or a combination of feature and advantages, is because: people buy because they have motivations and needs. If a seller can relate the product or product features specifically to those motivations and needs, then there is a high probability of making a sale.

A benefit describes how a feature and advantage of a product can meet a specific motivation or need the buyer might have for that product. By having a clear understanding of the buyers' motivations and needs, we can sell the particular benefits of the product that meet those needs.

If you know your product genuinely meets a specific need of your audience, do not be afraid to be explicit about how your product, service or features will affect your prospective buyer.

So, how does this translate to student recruitment and the selling of education services to future students?


How are most education institutions in the industry currently communicating their value proposition?


If you were to conduct an audit of the prospectuses of many education institutions today, you will find that the vast majority of institutions will communicate marketing message such as:

We have:

  • Excellent and modern facilities
  • Great study environment
  • Easy access to public transport
  • High quality education
  • Welcoming community
  • Well qualified and experienced teaching staff
  • Flexible learning options
  • Satisfied students
  • Etc.

As you can see from the above list, there is one common thing about all these statements: they are all features! As mentioned before, statements that describe features are relatively neutral, both in their content and in their effect on the future students.

To make matters worse, in addition to the neutral effect of the messaging on the buyer, there is further neutralisation because there is very little differentiation in marketing messages from one institution to another.

I reckon that it would not be uncommon to find 80 – 90% of messages between most institutions to be common. So, from the perspective of a future student, when comparing several options, the typical marketing messages between the institutions he or she is considering are not likely to be compelling enough to sway them one way or another. They are more likely to explore other points of difference such as cost of tuition, duration of course, availability of scholarships, destination city, destination country etc.


Opportunity to gain a competitive edge over ‘the pack’


The lack of compelling marketing messages in most education institutions presents an opportunity for those who want to be leaders and trend-setters by taking smart actions that will leave their ‘competitors in the dust.’

Having marketing messages that are effective at persuading and favourably influencing your target audience to your institution is one way to separate yourself from the pack.

Your marketing messages on the web, in your print collateral and the verbal messages that your staff members convey to potential future students could be working more effectively and powerfully for you. A well-developed, scientifically-proven suite of marketing messages will increase the probability of your prospective future students to consider you more favourably.

In this article, we have considered one way of articulating your marketing messages in a more effective manner: by selling benefits rather than simply selling features. It is worth noting that this single method of selling benefits is not so powerful as to work on all future students all the time. There are many other such techniques, tactics, concepts, principles and strategies that have been scientifically proven to work better than other approaches.

All you have to do to secure the success of your education institution’s student recruitment enterprise is to:

  1. learn what these science-based selling techniques, tactics, concepts, principles and strategies are; and
  2. how to harness and ethically apply these universal laws and principles to your student recruitment practices.


Learn how to harness the science of persuasion and weave it into your marketing messages and content


In The Art of Student Recruitment Sales Training Course, among other things,  you will learn how to understand the emotional triggers and buyer motivations of your target audience and thereafter develop benefit statements that speak to those future students at an emotional level.


In addition to learning how to construct benefit statements, the 3-day course addresses close to 72 science-based concepts, principles, tactics and strategies that you will learn to apply in your student recruitment practices. As with the benefit statements, none of the 72 are individually so powerful as to work on all future students all the time. However, each of them, if appropriately implemented will increase your probability of a successful student recruitment outcome.


The immense power of the course is not in any single aspect of the course, but rather in the effect of implementing the collective lessons learnt from the course. As Atul Gawande quite aptly said:


“We always hope for the easy fix: the one simple change that will erase a problem in a stroke. But few things in life work this way. Instead, success requires making a hundred small steps go right - one after the other, no slipups, no goofs, everyone pitching in.”

Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance



Register for The Art of Student Recruitment Sales Training Course


Seats are limited at each venue. So, hurry and confirm your attendance before it is too late!

Register now to attend any one of the following courses near you:




  • Melbourne: Tuesday 22 October – Thursday 24 October 2019
  • Adelaide: Wednesday 30 October – Friday 01 November 2019
  • Perth: Wednesday 27 November – Friday 29 November 2019
  • Sydney: Wednesday 29 January – Friday 31 January 2020




New Zealand


  • Auckland: Wednesday 13 November – Friday 15 November 2019
  • Wellington: Monday 18 November – Wednesday 20 November 2019



United Kingdom


  • London: Wednesday 04 December – Friday 06 December 2019
  • Birmingham: Tuesday 10 December – Thursday 12 December 2019
  • Manchester: Monday 16 December – Wednesday 18 December 2019


Secure your seat and take the next step in enhancing your performance today!



Comments (3)

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  2. oprolevorter    October 22, 2019

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  3. vurtil opmer    November 10, 2019

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