Benefits sell software, not features -
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Author Topic: Benefits sell software, not features  (Read 1773 times)
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« on: September 19, 2006, 09:43:57 PM »

[via The Great Software List blog]: Let me explain. I'm finally learning that it's not features that sell software, it's the benefits the user gets from using the software. Self-evident, right? You'd think so, but software companies are not getting it.

For example, Gmail doesn't have many features compared to a desktop email program, but its spam detection is pretty fantastic, making it a worthy email, not just webmail client. Same goes for Microsoft Word. It's great software, but for someone not needing its power and complexity, there are a few good alternatives which play and convert well with Word, so you're never out of the loop. On the other hand, the new Adobe Acrobat 8.0 has tons of features (although conferencing is the only real new fetaure of v.Cool, but for the average user, it often brings frustration and headaches, leaving them better off with free or shareware alternatives like ScanSoft PDF Converter Pro by Nuance, or for solid document PDF creation, pdf Factory Pro, not to mention a host of quality freeware PDF alternatives. The recent release of Paint Shop Pro 11 is another example of feature-marketing. It brings one decent new feature to the table (depth of field), and then promptly asks for upgrade money.

Perhaps there are other ways of looking at this "features vs. benefits" argument, but at this point, I'm asking how your software benefits me, not whether it has a useless new bell or whistle in version 32.0 that I likely will never use. If not, then I'll upgrade when it's in my best interest, not when the company tells me to. And if you don't support your previous versions, then I'll find other software to use.

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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2006, 10:24:04 PM »

there are two issues here right?
one is, "DO features sell software"
and the other is "SHOULD features sell software"

I find myself susceptible to the lure of new features but as you say, new features rarely mean new benefits.  Usually it just means new stuff you don't need and won't use.  But then there is always part of you thay says "well maybe one day i will want to use a puppy-dog-in-a-basket logo on my email.."
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« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2006, 01:22:42 AM »

i'd just say software is much like hardware, if not even worse for being 'throw-away' after a short life span. they may as well print a date on the software box or have it displayed on the splash screen: DO NOT USE THIS SOFTWARE AFTER insert date here that's about 12 months after purchase.

just as we are expected to throw our TV set into the river after about 24 months of use and rush out for a brand new one, we are expected to uninstall a perfectly reasonable piece of software and get the upgrade - regardless of it's new features.

i'm as guilty as anyone. i can't think of many programs that i couldn't be using from five years ago that would be perfectly okay for what i do (probaby even ten years back would still be okay).

i can't think of an example right now but i know that i've seen the 'cool' new features on something and thought i've got to have that - then tried it for a while and then just found myself doing it the 'old' way. the old 'uncool' way might take longer but it's easier to remember or maybe it was actually just more 'fun' to do it that way - sometimes it's just nice to mess around and waste time on the pc.

as for "do features sell software": i bet you could just stamp a new version number onto a bit of software with absolutely no new features and it would still sell to people that had bought the previous version. a higher version number means it's better doesn't it - who cares if it does anything new.

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