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

April 1, 2013

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, lets 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
Competed in Small Junior Hunters

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
A great size for a child or small adult

Bay with 4 white socks Beautiful horse that stands out in the show ring

Calm and simple to deal with

Competed in Small Junior Hunters
Is ready for a junior 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 you 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 affected by the benefits they provide to your client.

A feature is what you do or provide — the benefit is what the customer receives from that feature – what they get

A few mainstream examples –

Feature: Boots with Waterproof seams Benefit: dry feet

Feature: A drill Benefit: the hole it creates

Tips for attaching Benefits to your Features -
Benefits received from services are generally harder to define than those attached to products, and intangible benefits are even harder to articulate than tangible ones. Unfortunately, many of the benefits associated with horses and riding 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 and craft them into short sentences or phrases that are easy for you (and your staff) to communicate and incorporate into your marketing.

About the Author
Elisabeth McMillan is an equine business consultant and the founder of Equestrian, a website that provides business education and career support to horse professionals. She is also a sought-after public speaker for equestrian organizations and speaks at events through out the U.S.A. For more information please visit or you may email her directly at
If you found this article helpful, you will be happy to learn that Equestrian Professional is a USHJA educational partner. Trainers who are members of USHJA receive a 10% discount on all Equestrian Professional membership plans. USHJA Certified Trainers receive a 25% discount.

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