Copywriting: What Is a Customer Benefit Surplus? It Matters

Photo by Bruce Mars

I came up with the theory of customer benefit surplus. Just in the last few days. It applies most to B2C products.

What Is a Customer Benefit Surplus?

A CBS occurs at the moment when a prospect reading copy realises that the benefits of a purchase outweighs the negatives. Though this may sound like a very rational way to transition to a certain frame of mind about a product or service, it is not. It is highly based upon emotional and subjective views brought about by the way copy is written or presented. A CBS is measured when copy scores over 30 on a Customer Benefit Surplus Grid. A CBS occurs at the moment when copy has sufficiently convinced a customer about a product. Whatever that may be. Most prospects who pass through this stage end up as paying customers.

The Basics of a Customer Benefit Surplus

The concept of CBS has been around since 2019. I use it and consider the model when writing and working with clients on their copy. It is unique to me. The main point is that there is a stage in the reading process whereby prospects mentally turn into customers. The aim of a good copywriter is to provide a benefit surplus by selling a product or service effectively.The aim is to end up with as many conversions as possible because of a clear Customer Benefit Surplus. CBS is inspired by the writings of Eugene Schwartz and David Ogilvy.

In the consumer society that we now live in the happiness that can result from a good purchase often is the core underlying reason for the purchase. Not the sole reason but the most powerful subconscious reason. It is no overstatement to say that this internal belief drives a prospect into becoming a customer.

How to Apply Customer Benefit Surplus when Copywriting

Apply this to a piece of long form copy for more complicated products or services. To implement this technique draw a grid on some lined paper. There should be four columns. In the left column summarise a key selling point into a single word. In the next column write how many times that point is mentioned. In the third column rate the extent to which emotional benefits have been used to make the point. Rank the point between 0-5 where 0 is only mentioning features, 1-2 is effective use of logical benefits and 3-5 is the usage of emotional benefits, with 5 being overly emotional and 3-4 being the perfect balance between features, logical benefits and emotional benefits. The fourth column is for notes.

Repeat this process for exactly ten key selling points. Tally up a score for the set. Check how your copy matches up to a perfect balance:

0-10 The copy is overly features-based and needs substantial change.

11-20 The copy may be too focused on features/logic and needs significant improvement.

21-30 The copy is good, it passes and does its job. But will probably not be very effective.

30-42 The copy is great, striking a balance between emotional and logical benefits.

43-50 The copy sounds like hot-air. Features and logical benefits are lacking. Change it.

You should aim to always end up between 30-42, this means your copy will lean towards the internal benefits driven by emotions. These are the ones that drive sales. However, you will still have logical benefits and features mentioned and not ignored. Ignoring these as in the case of copy over a score of 43 may turn more detailed and hardnosed customers off your product or service.

So to get a surplus your copy should score 30 or over on this test. An overly large surplus however is negative and is as equally dangerous as not reaching the middle of this scoring system.

The other benefit of doing this, is to discover how comprehensively you have made your points. Not regarding the detail but regarding the three key components of a selling point. Features, logical and emotional benefits. For each point you can check whether you have made these clear and included them. Remember to focus on the emotional benefits 50% of the time, logical benefits 30% of the time and features 20% of the time.

Why does it matter?

It is important to understand the theories behind copywriting so that your copy is effective. The more effective copy is, the more sales it'll produce. Understanding consumer psychology is a powerful way to equip yourself to produce written materials and online copy that increases business success.

Do you need help with copywriting?

Have you tried everything and it's just not working? Have you not got the time to manage or write marketing materials yourself?

I'm a copywriter with experience in the EdTech niche. I'm based in Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK.

I'll help you to market your EdTech product in an enticing way that results in more revenue and bigger clients. I know how to convince powerful corporations to take interest and line up to work with you.

Some examples of the writing I can produce include: sales collateral for expos, video transcripts, sales letters and pitches, web page copy, PPC ads and more. I work on copy for both offline and online mediums.

Feel free to leave a comment too and share any tips you have for EdTech copywriting.

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