Details On Non-Features

In the trend of full disclosure and transparency, I think there may come a time where a vendor has to inform costumers what their product or service does not have an particular feature (only when it is a feasible feature or service). This may seem to go against traditional marketing, but remember, business-to-consumer interactions are going through a huge change. Take for example Progressive Insurance, and this is very progressive (hence the name). Now I don’t know if they have terms they try to hide in fine print, but they do list the price of their competitors on their own site, which is close to the spirit of full disclosure and transparency.

A company should only want to sell to the right customer as noted in “It’s Not The Big That Eat The Fast That Eat the Slow” by Jason Jennings and Laurence Haughton, it is important to sell only to the right customer. Selling to the wrong customer can end up costing you more than the sale’s revenue. A customer could assume you product or service has a certain feature, find out that it doesn’t and then tell all their friends that it is worthless because it does not have this feature. It could be a niches feature, or it could be a feature that most people it want. It doesn’t matter which. You, as the seller were better of informing this customer that your product or service does not have this feature and not buy it then have them buy it and find out later.

Unless some new competitor comes along, if you did your due-diligence, you product or service will probably continue to sell and meet the needs of thousands or perhaps millions of customers (depending on your market segment). That is why vendors make products and services available with varying features at different price (another example of the Long Tail). So, if this advice of selling only to the right customer is paired with the trend of disclosure and transparency, I think we may see details on non-features. Otherwise, it may appear that the vendor is trying to deceive the customer. You could try to put the blame back on the customer for not doing their due-diligence, but disclosure of non-features is easier, and does not place blame on your customer. It is easier for a vendor to point out that they disclosed a non-feature list rather than explaining that if it was not listed then it must not be a feature.

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