Competition and Customers

You need to be careful about discovering the real purpose behind a client request. If a client says: “I want a website like my competitors’ sites”, ask the client what having that sort of website will allow them to give to their customers? They might say something like: “an exciting, fluid experience”. Now you have what they REALLY want, as opposed to simply copying someone else’s solution.

This also answers the “Do you do X?” complaint. I would ask: What does being able to do X -DO- for the person? In other words, challenge that the person needs X feature to satisfy their real desire (which usually ends up like something simple like fun, freedom, speed, etc.)

Remember that people are creatures of habit. One thing many fail to realize is that as long as a program does a particular thing really well (i.e. “enough” features to completely cover a particular task) then very often users will AVOID switching to a competitor, even if that competitor has more features. “Bank for the Buck” is only relevant when the user hasn’t used any program of that type yet (for example, blogging software). Once a users is “in”, as long as the program does what it’s trying to do well, then it will take a LOT of features from a competitor for them to switch. (I don’t have numbers to back this up, but it seems correct based on what I know about how people work.) The one example I can give is that in many ways, Mac OS X is technically more advanced then Windows. Yet year after year people keep choosing windows because of the appearance of difficulty in changing their ways and using something else.

I think what needs to happen is that customers need to be educated as to the achievements people can make with their program, as opposed to the features it has. In reality, the achievement is what people really want. This is something I picked up from reading sales marketing online. Good sales pitches have a ton of testimonials. People with RESULTS from using the product. I have a feeling if this was put out more, you would discover it’s FAR more powerful in convincing people to buy then touting off the features you have over the competition.

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