The FAB Way to Punch Up Your Copy

Posted: February 13, 2011 in General Writing Tips

It’s sad when you see marketing copy that fails to describe why someone should want the product. For the copy writer, it’s like stepping up to home plate and watching three perfect strikes sail past. You had your chance to score, and you choked.

Lesser writers try to sell on features alone. You can see this everywhere, but I notice it a lot on consumer electronics; a brochure, catalog, or packaging that says something like, “9 migaplex, coil rated at 50 Mqxy, titanium framework, patented TrueBrown technology, overclocked framistan.” Only a geek can tell if he wants that.

If your product description lacks punch, try describing your product in terms of Features, Advantages, and Benefits (FAB). This simple template can sell your product in clear, crisp strokes.

What are Features, Advantages, and Benefits?

  • Text about Features answers the customer’s question, “What does this do?”
  • Text about Advantages answers the customer’s question, “Why is that good?”
  • Text about Benefits answers the customer’s question, “Why does any of this matter to me?”

Or put more briefly:

  • Feature = What?
  • Advantage = So what?
  • Benefit = So what about me?

In my “nothing but features’ example above, see how much more appealing the features are when followed with their advantages:

  • 9 migaplex resolution displays the sharpest image ever on a portable toaster
  • Browning coils rated at 50 Mqxy produce crispy bagels in half the time
  • Titanium framework assures true take-anywhere durability
  • Patented TrueBrown sensor prevents scorching

…and so on. By now you’re probably getting the idea that I’m describing the best (fictitious) expandable pocket toaster ever.

Abraham Maslow

Abe Maslow: authority on human motivations

You could stop with well-executed features and advantages. But skillfully-handled Benefits really help close the deal. In the method I’m describing, Benefits are deeply personal. You find Benefits on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need.

Briefly put, this is why you see chewing gum sold as a way to find love; MacDonald’s sold to moms as a way to make their families respect them; and men’s hair dye sold as a way to get laid. This level of Benefits is not only for consumers. If you’re writing business-to-business copy, portray your product benefits as Maslovian attributes such as being admired by the tribe, locking up job security, or appearing wise. In a future entry, I’ll go into the benefits angle more.

If you know your audience at all, when you list your features cleanly and concisely, explain why they’re cool, and show the whole package delivering a value that a caveman could understand, you are likely to move more product. Try it and see if you don’t think it’s a FAB approach. ##


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