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  • Writer's pictureMartin Benefer

Invest in the benefits (not the features)

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

Features v Benefits

Like many people, I've known the difference between features and benefits for a long time. But like all things, knowledge didn't quite equal understanding until it affected me the shape of a door!

Here's a simple way to view it:

  • The door is wooden (feature) = it looks attractively rustic (benefit)

  • The door has a handle (feature) = it's easy to enter and exit the room (benefit)

  • The door is in one piece (feature) = my property won't leak repeatedly when it rains, draining my time and energy as I attempt in vain to fix it for months on end! (benefit)

OK, this last example isn't exactly a classic, but it is what taught me the hard way to value the important difference between features and benefits, especially when it comes to investment.

Investment in What?

First things first, this isn't my door. This is a photo I took at a cafe in Hoi An, Vietnam. A rather attractive door as doors go - in the public eye, representative of the establishment and critical to the day to day functioning of the business. Certainly worth keeping in good condition and investing in.

My door, on the other hand, was only seen by me, only used by me and was only affecting me. Hardly worth investing in, even if it was broken...or so I thought.

For months and months I battled with a warped, battered and rotten wooden door that continued to allow part of my property to flood; trying cheap, novel and ineffective ways to keep the building sealed and often getting soaked in the process...

  • Tried a storm strip to divert rain- didn't work

  • A floor mat to absorb water - didn't work

  • A raised base - didn't work

  • Towels down - didn't work

  • Plastic bags on the floor - didn't work

I even reached the point of pinning a bin liner to the door, holding it down with bricks and having back-up towels underneath, meaning I couldn't even open the door anymore, but at least it was sealed, right? - didn't work!

Running out to check on my makeshift waterproofing during torrential rain only to discover it had reliably failed once again, I finally started to think maybe I was investing my energy in the wrong direction. Maybe it was time for a new door!

Value v Cost

"No brainer" I hear you cry! So why the reluctance on my part to buy a new door? And why the indulgence in this tragic comedy version of Swiss Family Robinson to avoid getting one?!


And not just cost, but my perception of value.

"That's a lot for a door!" I kept saying as I looked at a quote, "especially for an outside building". I repeatedly asked: "why so much?", "what's the labour time?", "isn't there a cheaper way?" and "how can I justify that to myself?"

When I finally decided enough was enough, that attempts on my own had failed and would continue to fail until I invested properly, it dawned on me that I'd been asking the wrong questions, based on the wrong mindset...

I wasn't buying a door, I was investing in a waterproofed property!

I was buying peace of mind.

I was buying back mental energy and time.

I was buying closure to something I couldn't solve on my own - quite literally!

I wasn't buying the features - I was buying the benefits.

And it's the benefits that I valued. The benefits were worth the cost when the features never were and never would be.

Return on Investment

I use the above example because, not only is it so simple and universal, but because it genuinely shifted the way I look at where I invest my time, money and energy.

I spent hours trying to find novel solutions to avoid the cost of something I didn't value. Only when I looked past the features and focused on the benefits did I see the real value in investment and concluded it was in fact a no-brainer.

There will be many areas of your life where focusing on the features may hold you back from making investments that bring about benefits you truly value. Some of these areas may be as simple as doors, others much more fundamental to do with your health, wellbeing, career and future.

If you find yourself struggling to invest in a solution to something you want or need because you're not sure it's worth it, pause and ask yourself if you're attaching value to the features at the expense of the benefits. Re-frame it and see how it shifts things for you in line with these simple but important examples...

  • You're not buying an apple, you're investing in your health

  • You're not buying a holiday, you're investing in your wellbeing

  • You're not buying a training course, you're investing in your career

Look a little deeper and a little further at the benefits you want, and invest in what you truly value.

Good luck!


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