Features or Benefits

Years ago, I was an insurance agent (now you know why I think fundraising is fun).  I didn’t love the insurance aspect, but I did love all the sales training we got.  One of the things that was constantly drilled into us was the need to sell benefits rather than features.  What that really meant was talking about insurance from the vantage point of the insured rather than the insurer.

Most of my clients were small manufacturing businesses and a lot of what I sold was health insurance.  Instead of telling my (potential) clients about the medical coverage they would be buying, I talked about how health insurance could help them recruit and retain employees.  This was a big deal for many of the companies I worked with; they were competing with large corporations in a pretty limited labor pool.

Selling benefits rather than features is something nonprofits should work on.  Too often, when nonprofits talk about themselves, they talk about their activities—what they do rather than what they accomplish.  We are so busy describing ourselves, we forget about our clients and our donors.

One great way to get your mission and your message across is with a tagline.  Nancy Schwartz, a nonprofit marketing expert who has recently launched  Nonprofit Tagline Database (http://bit.ly/bujJLI) of over 4,800 taglines and a guide to making them work.

“A strong tagline does double-duty,” says Nancy, “ working to extend your organization’s name and mission, while delivering a focused, memorable and repeatable message to your base. It’s one of your most effective marketing tools.”

Take a look at the taglines in the database, and then see if you can come up with a compelling one for your organization.  And remember—make it about your benefits and not about your features.


Janet Levine works with nonprofit and educational helping them build their capacity and increase fundraising revenues. She is also the co-author of Get Ready, Get Set, Get Grants, a comprehensive guide to writing winning proposals. Learn more about Janet at her website, http://janetlevineconsulting.com. Buy the book at http://tinyurl.com/2996pqg




About janetlevineconsulting

For over 20 years, Janet Levine has worked for and with nonprofit and educational organizations, helping to grow their advancement programs. Her consulting company, Janet Levine Consulting, serves a wide range of organizations from small, all-volunteer agencies to major national organizations. She regularly teaches courses in non-profit management, fundraising and grant development, both face-to-face and online at http://courses.lmlearningstation.com/. In addition to her nonprofit work, Janet brings years of experience as a business and sales manager in the for-profit sector. She has an MBA from the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University.
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2 Responses to Features or Benefits

  1. Janet,
    First off, the very first line in this post made me laugh out loud! 🙂 Thanks for that.

    And more seriously, I strongly agree that organizations that talk about the benefits or what I call the impact they are making RATHER than the features or the tasks they do, will more deeply engage their community.

    It’s a habit to unlearn. But it can make a huge difference.

  2. Brian Saber says:

    Insurance agent?! I certainly see the applicable skills, but that’s still an unusual career move I would think!

    Boy, I wish I understood the features versus benefits concept a long time ago. It’s such a powerful lens through which to see our organizations.

    Our colleague Michael Miller did a great riff on this called Making the Case for the Lonely Fork – take a look: http://bit.ly/b6xwxc


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