The Drawbacks of Features and Benefits
Say you find yourself on an elevator with a very influential person, someone who would change your life if you had them on your side. Realistically, you have about a minute to win them over, to make them remember you enough to hire you, or become a client, or even buy your company.
It would be insane to spend even one of those valuable seconds telling them about the record you set on the high school track team. Or telling them how many words you can type per minute. Running and typing fast are both good qualities, but they’re beside the point. They trivia. Filler.
When you spend time in your marketing video listing off features and benefits, you’re telling your audience that you can run and jump fast, when they’re really just interested in why your product matters. When they want to know how you can help them. They don’t want to know about the guarantee on the box.
I mentioned Features and Benefits in a recent article, but they stick in my craw enough that I want to dedicate more time to them. It’s easy to diagnose when your video has Features and Benefits.
Think about the standard flow of an explainer video (it’s a cliché because it works!):
- Introduce the problem to demonstrate empathy with your viewer’s plight.
- Introduce your solution (ta-da!).
- Explain how your address the aforementioned problems, and demonstrate why your solution is the best fit.
- Tell the viewer what to do next.
AVOID THE DISCONNECT
F’s and B’s usually slide in somewhere between steps 3 and 4. You’ve made your point and demonstrated your value. But then, somewhere in scripting, a stakeholder says “but how will they know our software is secure?” The scriptwriter, wanting to make you happy, adds in a sentence. “Oh, and it’s completely secure!”.
This creates a break. It creates a crack where the F’s and B’s tree roots can find purchase, and drive your video apart. If we’re talking about security, why not mention cost? Why don’t we throw in our whole white paper?
If you’ve been doing everything right up until this point, your video is a perfect machine where every element pulls the viewer toward an understanding of your value. I hate car analogies, but you’ve built a dragster. Putting F’s and B’s in your script is like hooking up a U-Haul trailer to that dragster. Also, one of the tires on that trailer is a little flat.
Philosophically, the problem with F’s and B’s comes down to a problem of truth, and the difference between data, facts, wisdom, and insight. F’s and B’s are facts, but facts are not wisdom. While these facts are true, and can be appealing, they are superficial. They aren’t connected to the argument you’re making for why the viewer should become a client. And when you’re trying to persuade a viewer who’s at the top of the marketing funnel, you have to discard everything that does not speak to why you’re worth their time.
Allow your video to tell the story
Practically, F’s and B’s are a problem of attention. When you slip a big mushy list of disconnected facts into the back half of your video, you’re increasing the likelihood that viewers will tune out before you give your Call to Action. You want them to see your video through to the end. But because F’s and B’s are so often presented as lists, which are very difficult to integrate into the story of your video, you’re adding friction to the viewer’s experience. You’re undercutting yourself.
A reliance on F’s and B’s is ultimately a problem of confidence. It comes from a worry that once your video is over, you’re out of the viewer’s mind forever. I implore you, edit your F’s and B’s ruthlessly, and have the confidence to believe that your video and your product are great enough that it will be impossible to not investigate further.
And when they investigate further, they’ll learn about your security (and your pricing, and your uptime…) from an info page on your website. That’s where F’s and B’s belong, not in the trailer behind your dragster.