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The Yellow Pencil Chart:
Persuasive Copywriting Translates Features into Benefits

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

An online devotional for writers

A Word From The Word

How can they hear unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:14, NLT)

A Word For Writers

Copywriting guru Bob Bly uses a persuasive copywriting exercise to distinguish between features and benefits – an exercise that I like to call “The Yellow Pencil Chart.”

The Yellow Pencil Chart: an online devotional about persuasive copywriting based on Rom 10:14 - features vs. benefits with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriting

At the top of a piece of paper, he records the name of the product, service, or idea he is writing about – in this case, a plain, number 2 yellow pencil. Then below the name, he delineates two columns: one for features on the left and one for benefits on the right.

On the features side he lists details about the pencil – what you can see, hear, taste, smell, or feel about it: the pencil is bright yellow, slender, tipped with a rubber eraser, made from wood with a graphite interior, and is sold in bulk packs.

On the benefits side he lists the advantages of each detail: yellow – you can find the pencil easily in the drawer; slender – it’s comfortable to hold; eraser – allows you to correct your mistakes without tearing the paper; wood body and graphite interior – you can sharpen the pencil and write legibly; packaging – saves you money.

In other words, a yellow pencil is convenient, comfortable, accessible, simple, and inexpensive to use.

When it comes to a yellow pencil, it’s not so hard to translate features into benefits. The challenge increases when the item at the top of the page is a complicated product … a specialized service … a concept or idea without physical attributes. 

That’s what persuasive copywriting does: it translates factual details into advantages for the reader.

My job as a writer is to connect those dots in a way the reader can understand.

A Wise Word

Persuasive copywriting translates features into benefits for your reader.

A Word To Pray

Loving God,

You are a God of details. Help me present details in such a way to my readers that I can show them advantages they can use.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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