In the software world, feature lists still dominate the packaging meetings. How many features do I put in which package? Are there too many or too few features? How are those features distinguished from others? There is still the widespread belief that more features will sell more packages.
I can’t remember the last time I looked at a feature of anything and thought ‘Oh nice, I need to have that feature!’ However, I remember dozens of times when I’ve made an emotional buy; a benefit appealed to me or the message spoke to me! I buy like that all the time.
So why is it that we want to sell software – especially SaaS software – in that features-led way? We all know that the installed versions will win the pure feature battle 9 times out of 10. Granted, that might not be a statement I can make in 2 or 3 years’ time, but until then, let’s reflect on why we are still taking this route.
While I can see some shift in mindset – particularly at creative conferences where everybody knows what to say and how to act to look as progressive and innovative as the next person – the no-window-in-the-back-meeting rooms rarely hear a benefit discussion. Barely anybody asks the tough questions: “This is very nice, but how are we creating value for our users?”
And that’s what it takes. Many, many years ago, when still working in my marketing agency, a former client and very senior CEO once asked me the following during my presentation of an 18 month launch campaign: “Maurice, this is all fine, but it is as dry as Nevada in a can. Where are the emotions? Where is the ‘Sex, drugs and Rock’n’Roll’ for my customers?”
It is obvious that this challenge has stuck with me. Not only because it was the only question this guy had after my 3 hour presentation, but because it hit the nail right on the head. Only if we speak to the needs, wants and emotions of our users and put that at the center of everything we do, will they care enough to buy, subscribe and stay.
A couple of questions you have to ask yourself at this point:
Who is my user?
Go and ask your support people or anyone who actually works out in the field. They know. Have them come in to help your marketing folks to create ‘Personas’. Check out this article by Richard Lazazzera (@RichardABLS) ‘How To Build Buyer Personas For Better Marketing’
How to match the different user groups (personas) to our products?
Now that you have a working understanding of who your users are, let’s find aspects of the product that best fit their respective needs, wants and requirements.
- What is great for them at the beginning?
- How would they evolve as a user of the product?
- How can you speak to their needs in the future and create an appealing offering for them?
- How can you be both flexible and guiding with your product strategy?
How do I now communicate this to my users?
If you have a great product – like OX App Suite – making information available for your customer is crucial. Now, you don’t want to talk them into anything, but much rather have them convince themselves. For that you have to be where the users are and be ready to answer any and all questions at their convenience. How do you achieve that?
Here are some suggestions:
Don’t hide information – Get it out there!
Create a support structure that delivers information in multiple ways; both push & pull. A promotional and helpful landing page that collects all the information a user might seek, ranging from copy and illustrations to videos and downloads of guides, data sheets and more.
Be helpful and create value
Create user stories where your user can find them – be it real or wishful thinking. Have inspiring, funny and heartfelt stories about how your product was part of someone else’s life, created value and simply worked. How it was never about mastering the product, but simply using it to achieve the actual task at hand, which was realizing a dream. Sound too soft, too Californian? Have a look how the big tech companies like Apple, Sony or Google sell their products. Remember my CEO: it’s all about exciting people and their emotions.
Selling to your users is not a bad thing
It is not a secret: Your user knows that you want to sell them something. Provide the means for them to be found easily without being in the way. People do not like to think about the next step you want them to take. Make sure it’s an intuitive one. You do not want to lose them with their next click that takes them away from the task at hand, which is buying your product. ‘Don’t make me think’ is a great book by Steve Krug (@skrug) that teaches you on how to create a compelling websites. And you’ll have plenty of chuckles along the way.
This is not about magic, but much rather doing the (right) work and being consistent while doing so. We all want to sell to our users – existing or potential – so why would we not put them at the center of our marketing and sales process?
More than ever: Stay open!