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Marketing to Must Have Requirements

by Hank Barnes  |  January 15, 2019  |  1 Comment

I was reading some articles that I had tagged and saved over the holidays.   Several of them were case studies that went into some detail on successful implementations.

What struck me, and maybe it is not new news, was how every one of the customers talked about some key technical capabilities that made the difference for them, both in selection and implementation.  Sure these customers cared about outcomes, but the technology mattered.

Yes, features matter.    You can’t just promise increased revenues or reduced costs or any other business outcome.  You have to connect it to how those outcomes are achieved.  You need to talk about your capabilities.

Photo by from Pexels

Photo by from Pexels

But is there a better way to talk about them than just to, er, talk about them.  I think so.

Here is the path:

  1. Use competitive analysis and customer interviews to understand unique, or important, capabilities.
  2. Explore the customer situations where those capabilities are most important.
  3. Present the capabilities by starting with those situations and then leading to the capabilities that address the needs.

For example, you may determine that one of your unique capabilities is the ability to easily exchange data between multiple sites.   In looking at your customers, you recognize that the ones that care about that capability are those that have multiple manufacturing plants.

With that info, you don’t simply say “Feature:  Data Exchange.”  Instead, you present the scenario “For customers with multiple plants that need to exchange data to improve quality, we offer an easily configurable data exchange mechanism that can be tuned by plant managers without IT involvement.”

Sure it is more wordy.  And this is just one feature example (you could describe a situation and then several features that are designed to support it).   But it puts the capability in context.  It provides clarity over the best fit situations.   And it is more engaging than a feature list, that looks like everyone else.  Best of all, you can back it up with customer stories.

Let’s be clear.  Outcomes matter.  But outcomes are only achieved with technical capabilities that make that possible.   Customers care about features, they care about capabilities.   Be sure your messaging creates stories that covers both sides of the coin (Outcomes and Capabilities).

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Category: go-to-market  

Tags: features  messaging  outcomes  storytelling  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Marketing to Must Have Requirements

  1. Totally agree. In my company, we create Marketable Items that do exactly what you advise: Package strengths into compelling reasons to buy that resonate with pain areas and industry hot topics. Our MIs create interest at the top of funnel and back them up with enabling product features once the prospect reaches middle of funnel.

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