It is important to distinguish between features and benefits, especially when you’re communicating about your school or district.

Many principals and superintendents tend to speak to their respective schools’ or districts’ features. For example, a principal may note her school’s great technology, outstanding new curriculum, and the fact that a high number of teachers have advanced degrees.

However, we must understand that when we communicate about features, we are speaking within our own frame, based on our own understanding. It works far better to communicate about benefits.

Here is an example. If I am shopping for a new car, I may hear about antilock brakes, side impact airbags, and traction control. But these features won’t mean anything to me unless I’m already familiar with cars. So a simpler message, like “it’s the safest car on the road,” is going to work better.

In the same way, when Apple began selling the iPod, they didn’t dwell on technical features to sell the new device. Instead, the marketing message was benefit-based: “One thousand songs in your pocket.”

People don’t generally buy features; they buy benefits. Therefore, when speaking of your school or district, don’t focus on features, items that only make sense to people who know education well. Focus on the benefits of those features.