A common mistake that many software and product marketers make is to orient marketing collateral, Web site navigation and even brand messaging around its features and functions.
Take a look at most technical product or software web sites and you’ll quickly see a navigation button for “features.” Drill down and you’ll see a litany of sub-navigation listing each specific feature, a clever icon, a description of the feature and possibly a video tutorial on how it works. Everything a customer might want to know about the features – except why they should care.
Make no mistake; this is an ailment that many marketers suffer from. When diagnosed, I dispense a healthy dose of snark by stating,“your product features suck!” The remedy is usually met with guffaws, snorts, and hurt feelings. Undeterred, I continue with the rationale for this tough medicine; it doesn’t matter if the features are good or bad, just think they’re bad. Why? Because I’ve yet to meet a marketer faced with a bad product who doesn’t try to slap lipstick on pig. It’s meant to serve as a cue for marketers to rethink their content strategy.
With few exceptions – especially in the software industry – product features are not unique. Yes, marketers will attempt to wordsmith uniqueness into them, but in reality you can find similar features with a simple Google search.
I advise clients to orient that same collateral, Web site navigation and brand messaging around what the product’s features enable the client to do instead of what the product feature does. For example, sentiment analysis in a social monitoring platform doesn’t “identify positive and negative sentiment around brand mentions”, it “builds a better sales funnel by more efficiently identifying unsatisfied competitors’ clients with the best opportunity to convert.” As a business buyer, which would you respond to more?
What’s motivating your customer?
When you ask yourself who is reading your content or visiting your site and what do they really want, it’s really a simple concept. What’s difficult is getting over your ego and obsessive need to talk about yourself or how clever your product’s features are.
Understand that when potential customers visit your Web site they already have specific questions in mind that they want answered. And if they don’t come with specific questions in mind, there are questions that are subconsciously driving how they navigate your site. For those in B2B industries for example, there are typically 3 types of users that visit your site from the same prospective customer, and each has their own unique set of questions they’re looking to have answered.
1. The Researcher – generally front-line employees or those in the trenches that have identified a problem that needs a solution. They’re looking for detailed solutions to their problems, what’s going to make their job easier, what’s going to get them that raise or promotion?
2. The Validator – typically a mid-level manager; they don’t care for solution details or demonstrations but are verifying the options provided by the Researcher in order to create cost-benefit analysis to present to their boss.
3. The Executive – spends the least amount of time on your site and are usually looking for one thing: comfort. They want to know they are not the only customer you have in their industry and that others have taken the risk and are happy.
Know that your audience is not interested in your product. They’re interested what it will enable them to do. Now go rethink and rewrite your product’s features. “They suck!”
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego