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What Is a Benefit?

The other day I received an email from a company representative who was selling a “training management solution.” I don’t believe I have a problem that matches that solution, but I decided to read the email anyway, since I am interested in effective writing. I was intrigued by the question asked in the subject of the email: “How Can We Benefit Syntax Training?” I wanted to know the answer.

Unfortunately, the answer to that stimulating question came in four bullet points.

How can our program benefit you? The program:

    • Is easy and fast to implement
    • Is affordable, pay monthly or annually
    • Does not require a long-term commitment
    • Focused on your day-to-day training challenges

So what is the benefit to me? Will the program file my email in efficient folders, so everything is at my fingertips? Will it help me complete my work faster, so I leave my office at 5  o’clock? Will it increase my profits and pay for a trip to Hawaii?

Those would be benefits. But the bullet points above are just features–things about the program. Only the last bullet point hints at benefiting me in any way.

I clicked on the company’s website and found actual benefits on the Key Benefits page, among them:

    • Increase sales and help the team stay within budget requirements.
    • Allow more time for staffers to focus on important tasks.
    • Enhance interactions with students and track success of training.

Features and benefits often get confused in sales letters. We know a lot about the features of our products and services because, after all, they are ours. Identifying their benefits to others requires more thought and focus.

When my husband and I bought a minivan two years ago, the experienced salesman sold us on something even better than benefits–he sold us a vision. You can read about his successful sales strategy here.

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

2 comments on “What Is a Benefit?”

  • I just recently found your blog and find it very useful. I am not a business writer exactly but I do write for and about my art business and I often work as a free lance writer and columnist for local publications. I am always looking for ways to clean up my writing and to be clear and concise. I especially like your points about the girl and the dog in the previous post. You have given me much to ponder and hopefully implement in my own writing! Thanks!

  • Mary, welcome! I am glad you find the site helpful. If you have not already done so, you will want to sign up for my newsletter also. (See the Free Monthly Ezine link at left.) In it I focus at length on a particular topic each month.

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