I invited several of my friends in the product management, marketing, and strategic consulting fields to provide a little guest content to mix things up here on the Clever PM blog. Today’s installment comes from my long-time friend and current growth hacking specialist Jason Pedwell, who blogs on his own website, LiftDad.com. He’s here today to talk to us about why your customers don’t actually care about your features…
Now, I’m not suggesting that you could sell someone a car without the steering wheel, but nobody cares about it – a steering wheel is table stakes to enter the game of building a car. All cars have a steering wheel, so it is expected.
There is something intangible customers care about, but it’s not about having the most or best features.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at an example:
What smartphone has the highest resolution camera as of June 2015?
The LG G3? …Galaxy S6? …iPhone 6 Plus?
No, no and no.
The correct answer is a Windows phone; the Nokia Lumia 1020, released way back in July 2013. It boasted a whopping 41 MP camera sensor (more than 3 times the best 13MP competitors) and uses with high performance Carl Zeiss optics. The large sensor enables pixel oversampling, which means the combination of many sensor pixels into one image pixel. PureView imaging technology delivers high image quality, lossless zoom, and improved low light performance. In both video and stills, it enables up to 4× lossless zoom in FULL HD 1080p video, and 6× lossless zoom for 720p HD. It also has an adjustable shutter speed of up to 1/16,000s.
This phone was perhaps more camera than phone and there is clearly a case that this phone could have been a hit. Yet, in spite of this amazing improvement on one of our most popular things we use phones for (to take super hi-res selfies, with our collar popped and duck lips – what did you think I meant?), sales of the phone were lackluster and to this day, and this phone is easily forgotten.
Why? I contend that Microsoft missed the mark in their advertising, as in this example.
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
In my experience, the largest pool of potential customers start out at various levels of indecision and it is our job to convince them to buy. But customers are not undecided for the same reasons. Here are three common types of undecided customers you need to address:
They aren’t intentionally trying to make your life difficult or poke holes in your product (they are not cynics). Skeptics simply like to due their homework and be sure you have crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s before they buy (maybe they’ve been burned in the past).
In fact, skeptics can be great allies if you can win them over, they will share what they’ve learned with everyone they know!
So, address their question in advance. Ensure examples and a track record of success is documented (even informally) and share the information.
These people are always conceded they’ll make a bad decision, or regret one, which prevents them from taking action. They aren’t sure your product can work for someone like THEM.
Be sure to think about how your product works for several types of people and situations. Offer a money back guarantee to provide them comfort (increases sales and case studies show that guarantees do not measureably increase returns – poor quality products and service increase returns).
Meh. Why do I care? Is it worth my money?
You need to speak to them in their language. Early on, get into forums where your customers are, go to reddit and participate in discussions about their frustrations.
If possible, get a highly trafficked blog in your niche to write an article on the cool things people can do with your product (again, how does it fit into their lifestyle). Use all this when you launch to help nudge these people in the right direction.
So let’s take another look at the Nokia example.
What could they have done?
Another way Microsoft could have approached this is by looking at what real problems this amazing super-zooming, ultra-low-light, crazy hi-resolution camera solves.
Every grandparent I know wants to print photos of their grandkids into 8x10s (my parents and in-laws included). Give them a couple easy camera modes for portraits and sports shots and an easy way to connect to most printers. Then run an ad showing a frustrated grandparent who meets up with a friend that has printed out a bunch of portraits of their grandkids. “Wow! Do you have a photographer in the family who does all this for you?” the frustrated grandparent would ask. “No, my Lumia 1020 makes it easy to take and print the pictures.”
Or, perhaps remind us how many times we have trouble in the dark, or can’t get that action shot or long range picture when we’re at a concert. Then show us how easy all of that is with this incredible camera. It makes our lives easier.
It’s all about how the product makes us FEEL.
This is why lifestyle marketing is such a big thing. Instead of boasting their product’s features, successful companies instead show how the product relates to their customer’s lifestyle – either enhancing it or fitting into it. Sure, consumers still want the best and latest features, but second to how it’s supposed complement their lifestyle.
One reason why lifestyle marketing is so popular right now is because of Millennials, who have very different habits and outlooks on life. According to a piece on Fast Company, Millennials are all about what they get from the purchase. It’s not just about acquiring or purchasing the things we want anymore, but really what value they have on our lives. The piece goes on to say that a “product or service is powerful” only when it can connect consumers to something, or even someone, else.
This means companies are shifting the way they market their products. Instead of focusing all their marketing and advertising dollars on running down a laundry list of features, they need to invoke emotion and explain why their certain product will fit into a consumer’s life or have impact on their day-to-day actions. One company who has done this well for years is Apple.
Every time they have a new product or update, adorning fans will line up days before trying to be the first to get their hands on a product. All their ads and commercials depict the way people use their product as a way to help them connect to how they’ll then use the same product in their lives.
Another Fast Company piece goes on to explain how brands that survive are the ones that make life better and create an impact. The article goes on to say that companies need to not only make their products better than competitors, but also need to have them make a substantial impact to catch the interest of consumers.
Although Apple makes quality products, they rarely have the biggest or the fastest anything. They realize that it’s about the lifestyle.
No one cares about your features, they care how your product makes them feel.
You have limited time and resources, so before you add or change something, ask yourself:
“Why am I doing this?” Be brutal – this is for your own good.
Then ask: “why is that important?”
Then, ask: “why is that important?” a second time.