Data Sheets: How to write the Benefits section

Like everything, it’s easy when you get it right.

Benefits are one of the cornerstones of sales and marketing documents, such as data sheets.

In most cases, we only really notice them when something either doesn’t looks right (odd format) or is hard to understand (jargon).

So, if you’re planning to write benefits, especially for a technical audience, here are some suggestions to get started:

  1. Introduce the most important benefit first.
  2. Write to be scanned. Readers tend to glance at the benefits. Make it easy for them to determine if this is what they’re looking for.
  3. Write in a positive tone. But not overly friendly. That’s just annoying.
  4. Consider the reader. Explain the benefits in words and phrases they’ll understand. Don’t talk down.
  5. Consider the context. Why are they reading the data sheet now? Or are they reading a getting started guide or maybe a product guide, or online, or on a PDF? Does any of this make a difference to how you structure the benefits?
  6. Keep one benefit per point. Don’t merge two benefits into the same sentence. The reader will ignore the second, or the first. Not what you want. Give each benefit a fighting chance.
  7. Use a similar word count for each point. Avoid a short sentence for one benefit, then a paragraph for the next.
  8. Start with a verb. Not a golden rule, but pretty close. Then explain why it’s a benefit.
  9. Another option is to start with a verb, introduce the benefit and then add a second point that builds on the first point. This really depends on the location of the benefits on the page. On the sidebar, you have to trim the word count.

Don’t

  • Add keywords to please search engines.
  • Use a different structure. Visually, it should flow.
  • Repeat yourself
  • Avoid jargon, TLAs, acronyms, and industry speak. Write to be understood.
  • Write things that you don’t understand. Readers will sense this. I do. So do you.

Examples

Here are some examples from Atlassian, Oracle, IBM, and my favorites, CA technologies.

First Atlassian.

  • Actionable results — Extensive reporting functionality gives your team critical insight into their agile process. Backed by data, retrospectives are more data-driven and actionable than ever before.
  • Scalable evolution — Add and change issue types, fields, and workflows as your team evolves. JIRA Software is agile project management designed for teams of every shape and size.

https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira

CA technologies

  • Deploy — Continuously release high-quality apps at scale.
  • Operate — Maximize visibility from mobile to mainframe with application and infrastructure monitoring.
  • Secure — Secure your digital enterprise to win in the app economy with identity and access management.

https://www.ca.com/us/products.html?intcmp=headernav

IBM

Automated notifications and alerts

  • Enable you to set situational triggers and early-detection notifications to help you respond quickly to business trends and issues.
  • Provide proactive alerts to help you react to situations before they occur.
  • Deliver notifications and alerts through a variety of options, including mobile devices, email, instant messaging and Google Gadgets.
  • Track transactions and support processes, individually or in groups, to pinpoint and troubleshoot problems quickly.
  • Provide notifications and alerts about business transactions from processes and applications running in disparate environments.

http://www-03.ibm.com/software/products/en/business-monitor

Oracle

In this example from Oracle the length of the bullet points varies — which can work very well.

Here, I’m not so sure.

  • Increase user adoption through access to CRM data on the desktop
  • Reduce user training
  • Gain offline access to CRM

How does it reduce training was my first thought?

Maybe it’s implied in the rest of the data sheet but, for me, it looks a little under cooked. But that could be just me. Eye, beholder, and all that.

What do you think? Let me know.

PS  – Get your MS Word Data Sheet template here.

Download these MS Office and Apple templates today

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