Horse Business Features vs. Client Benefits Are you Making this Costly Mistake?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The difference between "Features" and "Benefits" is one of the most important concepts to understand in order to make your horse business more profitable. Unfortunately, this critical business concept is often overlooked or misunderstood. As a business owner, you build features into the products or services that you offer so that you can sell the benefits. In other words, clients "buy" benefits not features. Because the client buys the benefit rather than the feature, it is important that you get good at “communicating in benefits” rather than simply listing or rattling off features. In order to see why this is important, let’s look at various types of horse businesses and the features they might offer –

For example:

A lesson program might have these features

  • 5 School Horses
  • High quality equipment
  • Lighted Indoor Arena
  • Certified Instructors

A horse for sale has these -

  • 15.2 h
  • Bay with 4 white socks
  • Gelding
  • 2nd Level Dressage Horse

Or a boarding stable..

  • 150 x 275 ft arena with “nike” footing in it
  • 12 x 24 stalls bedded w/6 bags of bedding per week

Now lets add the corresponding benefits -

Lesson Program

  • 5 School Horses Clients are matched well w/horses
  • Quality equipment Saddles are comfortable/clients don't need to buy their own
  • Lighted Indoor Arena Clients can ride at night and in any weather
  • Certified Instructors High caliber of instruction & safety
Horse for sale
  • 15.2 h A great size for a child or small adult
  • Bay with 4 white socks Beautiful horse that stands out in the show ring
  • Gelding Calm and simple to deal with
  • 2nd Level Dressage Horse Is ready for a new rider to compete now
Boarding Stable
  • 150 x 275 ft arena with “nike” footing in it Room to train and helps promote soundness
  • 12 x 24 stalls bedded w/6 bags of bedding per week Comfort and health

As an equine professional, it may be so automatic for you to envision the benefits associated with these features, that no one needs to point them out to you (it is like this for technical experts in a variety of fields i.e. computer geeks relate to gigs). BUT… for customers the opposite is true. The customer does not automatically attach benefits to features – you must do it for them.

Tips for identifying Features vs. Benefits - Your costs can often be attached to the features you offer and your income by the benefits they provide to your client. A feature is what you do or provide — The benefit is what the customer receives from it – what they get.A few mainstream examples –

Boots with Waterproof seams vs. dry feet

A drill – vs. the hole it creates

Tips for attaching Benefits to your Features -

Services are generally harder than products and intangible benefits are even harder than tangible ones. Unfortunately many of the benefits that relate to riding and horses are intangible. So just keep going until you get something good! Here is an exercise and a few extra tools to help you.

Make a list of your features and then insert “so that” or “which means that” after each of the features, and complete the sentence. For example: We have a large selection of lease horses available – Which means that - our clients who don't own their own horses can have quality horses to take to the shows. Or – So that – our clients who are considering buying can determine whether horse ownership is right for them.

If have trouble coming up with benefits rather than features, just keep adding the phrase (”which means that…”) until you have successfully uncovered and/or converted the feature into a benefit. A feature isn't limited to one benefit – different benefits are important to different customers. List all the benefits and then pick the most compelling ones and craft them into short sentences or phrases that are easy for you (and your staff) to communicate and incorporate into your marketing.

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About the author

Elisabeth McMillan is an equine business consultant and the founder of Equestrian, a website that provides business and career support to horse professionals. She is also a sought after public speaker for equestrian organizations and speaks at equestrian events through out the U.S.. For more information please visit or you may email her directly at