I know the headline sounds a bit harsh but I’m sorry to disappoint you (especially if you are a technical founder or business owner): No one really cares about how many features you have and how extraordinary they are.
Before you jump into the comment section to give your 2 cents on the matter I need to tell you that there’s a bright side after all. While people don’t care about the actual feature, they do care about what’s in it for them. It’s the benefit that the feature (or combination of features) provides them with that makes the difference, It’s the problem you are solving that moves the needle. THIS is what they care about!
It’s a very simple principle but hard for most of us to process and apply it in real life. Turning a technical feature into a benefit is not an easy task, even for experienced marketers. However, I’m going to let you in on a method I came up with and using it with every client I have. It’s a very simple trick that can help you get to the bottom of pretty much anything.
All you have to do is repeat the “WHY” question twice (you can go for more if it doesn’t feel sufficient but twice will do the trick in most cases).
Why? The explanation is derived from a known psychological behaviour which I “borrowed” for the sake of this exercise. The first answer most people will give you is either what they think you want to hear or is a purely automated response and that’s because they haven’t actually thought about the answer. They just said something.
When you ask it again (basically asking to explain the first answer) – you make them think about the answer again. Confronting them with their previous answer usually results in an answer which closer to reality.
Taking this theory back to our world of marketing and messaging, you usually never ask yourself what this feature is for. You assume you know why you spend the time and money on building it. That’s why your first answer would be the automated one – the one that made you work on it to begin with.
But the second round (the “But why?” part) will make you stop and think. It will make you try to come up with a better way of explaining it (maybe even justifying it).
Here is how I put this theory to use every day, below are a couple of examples of my recent clients:
The feature: User Segmentation (in a growth marketing platform)
Why? So you can use your data to know which user did what
But why? So you would know how to communicate with them
Benefit: Engage Your Users with Targeted Messages
The feature: Smart Email Signatures (in smart digital business cards service)
Why? So you could add a face to your email (and keep the data up to date)
But why? To make it more personal and memorable
Benefit: Helping Your Emails Stand Out
Let’s take another random example:
The feature: Real-time notifications
Why? So I could get the information when it happens
But Why? So I won’t miss out on something
Benefit: Don’t miss out the opportunity to X (buy/act/be the first one to…)
And just for the sake of it, here is another example, only this time we will reverse engineer an existing benefit. I randomly looked for a productivity app on the app store and clicked on the “post-it” app. In their description, they mention the following benefit: “Work as a team – anyone can arrange, add and build on great ideas”.
In this case, the “why” is pretty obvious and it’s very clear that the actual technical feature is “collaboration option”.
This goes to show that when you do a good job explaining the benefit, it’s really easy to understand the technical feature behind it.
It means you don’t really have to throw away your feature list to the bin, you are just using more emotional ways to describe it and emotions sell better than facts!