Benefits vs. features - what do members value most?

When people join your membership site, they’re making a financial commitment based on the assumption that your product(s) will create certain results in their personal or professional lives.

Marketing wisdom tells us that communicating the features of your products is not enough; you must emphasize the benefits your customers will experience – but sometimes the difference can be ambiguous. Furthermore, some memberships might be heavy on the bells and whistles, but the actual outcomes resulting from those features might be underwhelming for the customer.

In this post, we will discuss some key differences between marketing benefits vs. features, and how this relates to what your members really want.

Going beyond description

Anyone can describe a product; features are simply the things that define your product, and differentiate it from another. What are the product specifications? What can it do? What content does it include? What access and functionality does the customer get? All of these are technical details that may not always be immediately relatable to customers; let’s face it – we live in a time when people are busier than ever, and they generally don’t want to do extra work to figure out how your product will work for them.

This is where benefits come in. They communicate the – wait for it – beneficial outcomes resulting from the use of your product, clarifying, simplifying, and connecting the dots for your customer to remove barriers to understanding. It’s the difference between describing and illustrating, and it satisfies the customer’s biggest concern when purchasing a product: What’s in it for me? Benefits pack more of an emotional punch than simple descriptors, resulting in a lot more sales conversions.

Check out this example:

You’re selling online guitar lessons, and you’ve created a series aimed at beginners who want to learn to play without any previous experience. The features of your series might be:

  • 10 full 1-hour lessons covering all of the fundamentals
  • An exclusive PDF sheet music guide
  • An account to access their videos anytime, anywhere

The benefits, however, would focus on the desired outcomes:

  • Play your favorite songs
  • Perform with other musicians
  • Feel good about your technique

So, how does this principle apply to memberships?

Memberships = ongoing benefits and ongoing value

In comparison to one-time purchases, membership sites are appealing to customers for a variety of reasons, from ongoing focused value and (generally) lower prices, to things like wider access to products and exclusive perks. A membership site can exist as an ecosystem around a certain niche, providing value that extends far beyond the benefits of a single purchased item. In many ways a membership is designed to simplify the user experience altogether – and thus it’s the perfect place to refine this marketing strategy.

Even physical product membership sites for things like shaving kit subscriptions or weekly recipe boxes are catering to a specific need – and providing focused results, removing hassle from the customer’s life, making cooking easier, and so forth. People aren’t subscribing to these services because of the features alone; they want solutions.

Use-cases

When it comes to digital products, the benefits may be more abstract than physical products. Think about the different outcomes that can occur from the use of your product; have you disregarded certain benefits that seem too “basic” to you (due to your more advanced level of knowledge)? It’s easy to overlook the more obvious benefits, because you’re probably the one person in the world who knows the most about your own product!

In order to show your customers how they could benefit from your product, dig deep to think of any relevant use-cases. This paints a clear picture for them, and with respect to memberships, helps to boost new member signups and long-term retention.

What exactly is it that members truly value?

We’ve already established that members are looking for results, and that helping them to visualize what those results would feel like in their own lives is the primary goal of marketing benefits over features.

Consider this list of fundamental benefits:

  • Save time and hassle
  • Gain or improve skills / upgrade your career / achieve your goals / succeed
  • Simplify your life / stay organized / de-stress
  • Feel good / get healthy / optimize physical performance / look great
  • Save money / earn more money
  • Improve relationships / get dates / find community and belonging
  • Protect yourself, your family, your assets / feel secure
  • Have fun / enjoy / indulge / get pleasure
  • Make an impact / help others / leave a legacy

The benefits your members receive might include things like free shipping (save time and hassle), exclusive deals and discounts (save money), subscription delivery (save time and hassle), or exclusive products (any of the above). Regardless of what you’re offering, your membership benefits will likely boil down to one or more of these fundamentals – and you can refer to this list when crafting your marketing message, from slogans and sales pages to product descriptions and social media posts. Go the extra mile to bring as much understanding to your customers (without them having to dig for it), and you might just level up your sales conversions and member retention altogether!

How have you marketed the benefits of your membership site? What results have you achieved using this method? Let us know in the comments!

2 comments

  1. I have been using RCP for a few year. Excellent product and the developer is a genius but the product has severe limitations. For example a member cannot be assigned two different subscriptions. This forces the developer to work only with “progressive” plans but not with distinct plans. I think RCP value woudl be greatly enchained with the feature of multiple subscriptions for members. Thank you.

    1. Multiple subscriptions per member is very high on our todo list and will be supported as soon as we’re able to finish the development required to make it possible.

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