Features vs Benefits (define your product based on benefits)

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The idea of focusing on benefits has been a common approach for marketing products and services for years. Tell your prospective customers and clients what they get out of using your product or service rather than focusing on what your product does. Did you know that this is important as you define your product as well? 

Let's start with the difference between features and benefits. If you haven't guessed it already, features are the things that your product does. Being able to watch a video or draw a picture. On the other hand, benefits are all about the "why". These are the reasons why people should be using your product. Focusing on benefits is a very powerful marketing technique. Products exist to solve problems. Therefore, if you can tell or show people how you do this, then you're describing a benefit that can compel them to use your product.

Define your product based on benefits

Defining your product based on benefits is something that I've touched on before as I described how to get from a high-level requirement to a detailed one. Today, I want to expand on this to explain how focusing on benefits can help you build a better product.

A user story is a way to describe what you want your product to do. The user story is structured as follows:

As a [user], I want to be able to [perform a task], so that I can [obtain some benefit].

Along with "what" the product is doing, the other two key parts of the user story are the user and the benefit. Notice how this ties into the way marketers have been telling you to know who your customer is, and how solving their problems will make them happy? 

The same things are just as important when you're defining your product. You want to know all of the people who will be interacting with your platform or app, and what they're trying to get out of it. This approach will then make "what" you want to build a lot easier to define.

Build the right product

This leads into a very important point about how you define your product. I've previously talked about minimal viable products and small development projects. The idea is that you start with the smallest possible project to create some part of your minimal viable product. This allows you learn how software development projects work, and you don't get sucked into building something that nobody wants. 

This approach has other benefits too. Did you know research has shown that 80% of features in custom applications are not used? So, more than half of things that people develop for their platforms and apps are things that no one finds useful. Think about the time and money wasted building! This is where benefits come in. If the thing that you want your product to do isn't providing a benefit to someone, then you don't need it. The bigger the benefit, the more value a feature has - and that's what you should be building.

Wrap up...

Understanding the difference between features and benefits is not just important to marketing your product.  It also plays a big part in defining your product as well. Utilise the user story construct to focus your product requirements on benefits, and think about the size and impact of those benefits to make sure you build features that people actually use. 

If you want to turn your good idea into a great product, then my Idea to Launch Checklist is your plain-English guide to getting there. It’s available now for only $24.

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