Those of us that have worked in the product management world know too well how easy it is to add features to a product without adding value. This is one of the key challenges in business – how do we improve the value we are offering customers without adding cost?
Unfortunately this question is often answered by adding more features to an already feature rich product. The outcome is usually a product that is more complex and often less valuable at a higher cost (thanks to the costs of adding the new features!)
What drives this behavior? Usually is one or more of the following factors:
- The pressure to constantly increase sales.
- The pressure to lead the competition
- Trying to be all things to all customers. (Listening to that one customer that wants a special feature)
- Making assumptions about what customers want without really testing their validity
How do you avoid making this mistake?
Ask yourself three questions:
1. Does this new feature compliment the core purpose of the product?
In other words is it adding value to the problem being solved by the product. For example does it make sense to add a clock to a dishwasher? No! the product is not designed to tell the time, its job is to wash dishes.
2. Does adding this feature reduce the value of other features?
There are many examples of overly complicated solutions frustrating users. Logitech has built a whole business around simplifying remote TV controls which are notoriously difficult to use. It feels like 90% of the buttons on a TV remote are for features I would never use. This makes the whole device seem clumsy and over engineered.
3. If I add this new feature what can I take away?
Regularly review what can be removed from the product and still have it accomplish what the customer wants to achieve. Use the following criteria to prioritize which features must go:
- Features that are costly to support
- Features that detract from other value-adding features
- Features not used by customers
This same thinking applies to everything in marketing. Are adding value or destroying it?