Lists with benefits
Make them parallel, verb-based
When Mr. Wylie’s Writing Tips had a hip replacement recently, he had to take a break from grocery shopping. I went searching for my new BFF, an online grocery delivery service.
I found Envoy, which turned out to offer grocery delivery and a writing workshop in one.
Envoy does a great job of expressing its benefits. My favorite: “You’ll save 80 hours a year.” You mean I can avoid two work weeks of selecting the perfect rutabaga and standing in line with the almond milk each year? Who cares how much it costs?!
Benefits are verbs, not nouns.
But Envoy’s benefits are inconsistent. And that’s where the writing workshop comes in. Remember, benefits are verbs, not nouns.
So tell me, please, what’s wrong with this list:
- Choose verbs. When you set up a benefits list, imagine a line that says, “That means you will …” You don’t need to write that line; just know that it’s there. That line will force you to use verbs, not nouns, for your list. That means you will … live life to its fullest; eat healthier, for less; support local.
- Make lists parallel. Now note which of these items doesn’t follow that line. That means you will … your favorite stores. That means you will … a shopper you can trust. That means you will … always the best prices.
- Fix your list. Now you can see what to do. Rewrite every “benefit” that’s really a feature (or a noun). Instead of That means you will … always the best prices, you’ll wind up with That means you will … save with the best prices.
Make sure your “benefits” aren’t really features.