Trends

*

How to sell a tractor: the difference between features and benefits

Published by

Advertising law states that people buy benefits, not features.

This law is also known as: features tell, benefits sell.

Which means it’s fine to explain the features that a product has, but it’s by showing the benefits those features bring to people’s lives that the real magic happens.

As marketing prof Theodore Levitt put it, people don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want to buy a quarter-inch hole.

But let’s take that analogy further.

“You don’t buy a drill, you buy domestic bliss.”

Why do people want a quarter-inch hole in the first place? Because they need a hole for a bracket. Why do they need a bracket? Because they want to put up some shelves. Why do they want to put up some shelves? Because their garage is a sorry mess. And they’re getting grief from their better half about tidying it up. And they need to tidy it up so they can transform the space into an extra bedroom for when their parents come to stay.

So they’re not really buying a drill, and they’re not really buying a hole.

They’re buying domestic bliss.

Selling benefits over features isn’t a new principle. In fact, it was being used as far back as the below 1921 advert for J I Case tractors, in which they didn’t sell anything so lowly as a tractor. Oh no, they sold nothing less than a better future for the next generation.

*

It’s this principle of selling benefits, not features, that allows an ad selling tractors to have a headline that reads: ‘Keep the boy in school’.

This apparently tangential benefit creates intrigue in the mind the reader, drawing them in to work out how buying a tractor means buying a better future for your child.

The user experience (as they definitely wouldn’t have put it back then) is as follows:

You, a father, remember having to toil in the field as a boy – to the detriment of your education. But your boy deserves more. You want him to have a better life than you. You want him to be well educated so that the doors of opportunity, that were shut for you, open for him.

But if your lad is working the fields, how can he devote the necessary time to his studies?

“Put the benefits where a buyer can see them. Save the features for the instruction manual.”

Enter the J I Chase tractor, which, with its mechanised efficiency, lets you do more work than you can with the boy, thus freeing him up to get a good education and improve his lot in life.

And, in case the father is economically rather than emotionally motivated, the ad frames the boy as a capital asset that’s enhanced by the purchasing of the tractor.

‘You’ll never regret either investment’, the copy explains.

This ad doesn’t talk of a tractor made of true American steel. It doesn’t mention how many cylinders it has. It doesn’t mention its galvanised rubber tyres. Instead, the focus is on how machinery can buy you the most precious thing of all: time and opportunity. Benefits that are immediately relatable to its target audience.

And that’s how you sell a tractor.

Comments

More Trends

*

Trends

WTF is happening? 5 consumer trends for 2020

What does the future look like? Change is happening at a faster rate than ever before and we've become one global community meaning we witness even more evolving of consumer habits. At Connect: London, Hollie Lubbock, interactive design lead at...

Posted by: Industry Updates
*

Trends

Accelerate your brand evolution with hybrid thinking

Think about the word “hybrid,” and it’s likely to evoke thoughts of eco-friendly cars, new types of plants cultivated by combining those that already exist, human robots in sci-fi novels, or even crossbred dogs. By its very nature,...

Posted by: AdventureLAB
*

Trends

Advertisers must also be technologists

In advertising, it's important that you keep up with the latest technology in order to figure out more efficient and effective ways to connect with your consumers. Today, we interview director of technology, Ivan Mayes, to get his take on where the...

Posted by: Kevin Forister