Make your benefits have focus

If you want to be a bad product manager, make sure to describe all of the benefits of your product. Devote time to each equally, since different customers have different criteria for selecting products. Make sure not to leave anything out, since if it’s not included on the list, customers may think you don’t offer it and choose a competitor who does. Stress whatever the key features are, whether that be unlimited usage, next-day installation, free tech support, or complimentary upgrades. Those are the features you’ve invested time and resources in providing, so they must be the ones that will make a difference to customers.

If you want to be a good product manager, focus on the benefits of your product that provide the most value to your customer. Most products have too many benefits — let alone too many features — to list them all. Not all benefits are equal, since some are more important to customers than others. Through proper market research you should have a good understanding of those key benefits and the key differentiators between your product and your competition.

While you’re stressing unlimited usage, next-day installation, free tech support, or complimentary upgrades, customers may only require limited usage, may not be in a rush to install, may not need tech support, and know that complimentary upgrades are an industry standard. Describing benefits that don’t resonate with the customer or that all of your competitors offer takes attention away from benefits that can drive a purchase decision.

In the Harvard Business Review article Customer Value Propositions in Business Markets, the authors describe the concept of “resonating focus,” which they say includes “the one or two points of difference (and, perhaps, a point of parity) whose improvement will deliver the greatest value to the customer for the foreseeable future.” Though this sounds like common sense, few companies actually focus their customer value proposition in such a way. The authors recognize that, of course, “more is not better” when it comes to benefits and featurs, and provide guidance for those looking to create a resonating focus with customers:

Best-practice suppliers base their value proposition on the few elements that matter most to target customers, demonstrate the value of this superior performance, and communicate it in a way that conveys a sophisticated understanding of the customer’s business priorities.

Your resonating focus should carry throughout your product management life cycle — identifying the important elements through research, building them into your product properly, and effectively communicating them to customers. Product managers who can obtain this focus, rather than listing unnecessary or irrelevant features and benefits, can connect better with their customers and align their product better with market needs.

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