If you ask startup founders or product managers about their products, they will recite their one-sentence pitch and then jump right straight to enumerating all the features their products offer. This is especially true when they (like me) come from a technical background, since they can easily get dazzled by those shiny algorithms and flashy interfaces. Often times, we forget that what really makes people love a product is not what it does, but how it solves their problems.
It’s important to understand the difference between features and benefits. This seems to be a simple concept, but, believe or not, people like me that don’t know much about marketing have a hard time differentiating between them. So, I will try to make it clear here.
Let’s start with features.
A feature can be defined as a characteristic of a product, a fact, something indisputable. For example, a to-do list app that allows you to drag-and-drop items. That’s a fact about the product and an advantage over other to-do apps that don’t have that feature, so it should definitely be advertised.
When pitching your product to potential customers, it’s the benefits of those features that will do the trick. Benefits explain why your features are important to them and how they can improve their lives. So we need to clearly tell them how dragging-and-dropping items on a list can help them organize their days better. Heck, you wouldn’t even need to talk about that specific feature on your home page!
Take WorkFlowy, for example.
I am one of those people that can easily get obsessed with keeping tasks, ideas, and notes well organized. I’m a list maker, I’m always trying out new organization tools, and I’ve found that some are too simple, others are too complex, but most suffer from featuritis (I’m looking at you, Evernote).
So when I stumbled upon WorkFlowy, I got hooked by just looking at their homepage. “Organize your brain” is their value proposition, that’s what they promise you. My first reaction to that was “wow, I need to try that!”. Okay, I didn’t really say that; I’m not that easy to convince. But I thought that was exactly what I needed, so they had nailed it at first glance.
Scroll down the page and you’ll see a bunch of testimonials; that’s real people telling you how this tool have solve their problems. And right at the bottom you’ll find this:
WorkFlowy is an organizational tool that makes life easier. It can help you organize personal to-dos, collaborate on large team projects, take notes, write research papers, keep a journal, plan a wedding, and much more.
See where I’m going? Not a single mention about what features this app has. All they (and their users) talk about is benefits! And when it comes to the actual features the product offers, they really keep it simple stupid, which is actually the total opposite of featuritis. What’s even more impressive is that, if you really need to know what their features are, you will have a hard time finding them listed on their website. You’ll need to dig in to their blog, or read external reviews.
Of course, what really made me stick to WorkFlowy and forget about all other tools are some of their features. For example, I like the way they deal with list nesting, and the use of hyperlink tags. But what made me love this product is how these features help me keep my whole life (not only work-related stuff!) organized. In WorkFlowy I keep shopping lists, ideas, reminders, random notes, and of course to-do lists, all in one place, and I can tag them to later filter and only see what I need to focus on in a given moment.
Now every morning I take a look at everything I need to do #today, #thisweek, #everyday or that is #asap, assign priorities to those tasks, decide which ones deserve pomodoros and go! If something comes to mind during the day, I can pull out my phone and just add stuff like "Talk to @alex about budget report", and next time I have a meeting with Alex, the agenda comes easily to me by just filtering my WorkFlowy lists by the tag "@alex". Simple huh?
WorkFlowy doesn't make my lists get shorter, that's for sure, but it does actually makes me feel my brain is organized.
What makes you love your favorite product?