Not everything is important: A quick guide on how to prioritize your product features
Updated: Feb 8
If you’ve been working tirelessly designing a product, it can be hard to hear feedback like: Not all features are the ‘wallet opener.’ When we’re passionate and well-versed on a subject, we generally find the details incredibly fun and compelling. Since we’re interested, it’s easy to forget our customer may not know as much as we do, and we enthusiastically kick-off conversations by diving into a nitty-gritty, jargon-filled word wall. This can very easily scare away potential customers. It’s important to take a step back and learn how to engage your customer by starting at the beginning with the information they find most valuable - the information most likely to encourage them to open up their wallet.
Leading your marketing with a long, non-curated word wall of detailed product specifications is sure to drown out your message. Essentially, this is starting a conversation midway through the story. It is foremost important to understand why a feature is important - this is known as the ‘benefit’. Most companies are excellent at listing their features, while not as many are apt at communicating the benefit of the feature and how it will make a difference in the lives of their customers. Many customers, no doubt, will want to know more about the details and internal workings, but only after you capture their attention.
So, you’ve read the 3Cs on how to take your customers from confused to convinced, and now you want to know how to decide what features of your product or service are the most valuable. Here are some quick ways to sort industry-laced jargon from the true ‘wallet-openers’ - the slam-dunk features that will motivate your customer to turn over their hard-earned cash for your product or service.
Does the feature immerse your customer in the ‘big picture’ of what it is like to be using your product?
A great example is the FitBit Versa. They skillfully structure features in order of importance to the customer - with large text and attractive visuals. These visuals also immerse the reader in the product experience - fitness. It sets the stage for your product to shine, pulling the reader away from life’s typical distractions, and showing us people in motion and people in workout clothes.
Customers are far more likely to understand the purpose of a FitBit if they are reminded of what it feels like to be out running or walking. If the feature does not help immerse the customer in the world of your product - it is probably not the best one to be used at the beginning.
Are you relying too heavily on puffery?
‘Faster’ or ‘brighter’ or ‘bigger’ are words that don’t necessarily explain importance. It can also be tempting to slot in a word like ‘innovative’ or ‘advanced.’ Without context, however, these words mean nothing at all. If the feature is only described with vague, subjective adjectives like ‘better’, ‘stronger’ or ‘more powerful’ it will likely fall on deaf ears.
If you remove elusive -er words and turn them into tangible examples, you have a more valuable lead. Apple did not outright say the iPod was ‘the smallest, most incredible music player ever designed,’ but they, instead, gave us an image of why size was important. By saying the iPod was “1000 songs in your pocket,” the consumer was provided a clearer explanation of why this product was so innovative.
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What’s the meaning behind your numbers?
If you are ‘150% more efficient’ - what does that 150% represent? Time saved by your customer so they can get home from work earlier? Less emissions than the alternative, therefore giving your customer the chance to achieve a greener lifestyle, or save them money on energy costs? When discussing numbers, always consider the tangible gain for the consumer by selecting your business over the competition. How does your offering improve, better, or enhance their life or business?
Don’t let your pride overwhelm the reader.
If you were one of the engineers that worked on the display feature of the FitBit Versa - you’d likely want to run the bases on the 1000 NIT brightness and how it was achieved. Unfortunately, the technology behind screen brightness probably won’t capture your customer’s attention - how many people know NIT brightness without looking it up?
On the product page, this feature is tucked away at the bottom of the “Specifications” list, as FitBit has determined it to be a “nice-to-know” feature as opposed to a wallet-opener. Be honest with yourself on the importance a given feature. By not letting your pride overwhelm the reader - you are being mindful of what features are most likely to close the sale and tucking the extras away in a separate section.
If brightness is a key wallet-opener for your product, you might want to start with reminding the customer how many lumens popular items - headlights on low-beam (700 lumens), iPhone flashlight (10 lumens), Mini Maglite (15 lumens), or how 100 lumens is recommended for a walkway.
It can be challenging to take a ‘step back’ when describing something you care about so deeply. However, you want to train yourself to focus on attention grabbing features and grow the customer conversation from that starting point. Even if it sounds elementary, it’s always better to start at the beginning than jump in halfway through the story.