When you think about how products/services are presented what comes to mind? Is it the 3 tiered model we see online? Why is it presented that way? There has to be an intention and purpose to that design, and although we may have the system displayed correctly based on eternal patterns of psychology. How we get there is the much-needed debate that needs to be had. As we are going about this all wrong. We need to dive into the layers to understand why Features x Benefits = Product/Service is a better way to reach this outcome.
Before we deconstruct what this means…
Three things we want to focus on in this article:
- What are products/services defined and their purpose?
- How we are reverse-engineering the wrong way with our model.
- Why the model Features x Benefits = Product/Service works better.
Part 1: The origin of products/services
Your Brand Protects What Is Most Important, So Why Do Your Products Hurt You?
The point of your brand is not to sell a product. And yet, it seems to be the only thing most brands want to do. A factory builds a widget and the brand slaps its logo on it before sending it directly to consumers. Dropshipping and the promises of a four-hour workweek have screwed up what it means to create, cultivate, and grow a brand.
The point of a brand, especially YOUR brand, is to connect you with an aligned audience with a very specific problem they need fixing. These problems are always something internal – anxiety, fear, something psychological – and are always more difficult to resolve. Yet, ask just about any marketing or branding professional (and we’ve talked to quite a few), and they are usually more concerned about “expanding market share” or “increasing customer retention.”
In other words: how do we sell more of our product? How do we get more people to sign up for our services? How do we, as a brand, grow?
Simple: you grow when your customers grow, and this all starts with changing the way you design and present your products.
Take a look at just about any company’s “pricing” page. It is usually tucked somewhere at the bottom of a landing page that is littered with overpromising and punchy copy. The pricing is presented in three tiers: free/cheap, basic, and advanced – Good, Better, Best.
Why is it presented this way?
I suppose you could look at SaaS companies from the early Silicon Valley days, the ones that were solely interested in gaining the highest number of users in the shortest amount of time. Customers were promised added features, more capacity, more bandwidth, or additional user licenses for each tier. This might make sense for a software company that can leverage automation to maintain and grow its user base. Their end goal is to often sell their product – users and all – to a larger company that will incorporate their features into something bigger. To reach this end goal, they usually have to scale horizontally to gain as much market share as possible.
You, however, first need to scale vertically - which requires a different strategy entirely - before you can try to expand horizontally. Think of it like the roots of a tree. Before a tree can grow a heavy, healthy trunk that supports a leafy canopy, it must first grow a deep, strong network of roots. Otherwise, the first stiff breeze will cause the tree to collapse.
This growth will be dependent on your good/ better/ best tiers. The “good” is available to everyone, your “better” is for your aligned audiences, but comes at a premium, and the “best” you have to offer is unrivaled in quality, but very limited in distribution. Growing your business means finding ways to package your best product in a way that won’t appeal to everyone.
To do this, we will have to take the equation you are used to and flip it around. But first, some foundational ideas:
The Origins of Your Product
The BAM family loves to assess the specific definitions of the words we commonly use. For so long, “product” or “service” has stood in as the term for “the thing you sell.” Frankly, this has been an injustice to what both of these words could mean:
Service (n) – The work performed by one that serves
- A set of articles meant for particular use.
Product (n) – something that is produced
- Something that is marketed or sold as a commodity
- The result of multiplying two numbers or expressions together.
How many of us have started our businesses with the idea of “I want to deliver product X to people”? What if we looked at it a different way: your product isn’t the deliverable but the potential for what you could do for people.
Your brand must solve your audience’s internal problems. Those who invent products out of nothing often find themselves having to imagine a problem they could solve. It happens more often than you think: just look at all of the ridiculous premises of the stuff you can order on TV late at night.
In The Big BAM process, we figure out your audience’s problem, how you’re solving it, and who you are solving it for. It is a long process that requires a ton of research and reflection. Then, after you have determined the internal problem your audience faces, we figure out how to package the resolution.
Part 2: Reverse engineering the wrong way - Product/Service = Features + Benefits
Features and Benefits does not a product make.
To learn how to do something the right way, you usually have to do it the wrong way first. For years, solo business owners and coaches have hitched their cart to the idea that their brand and the copy need to focus on the features and benefits.
When you build a product before anything else, you make a huge assumption about what people need. The result is often a product you have invested a load of time and money into that a few people may want but almost no one needs. You’re left trying to package your offer into a box with the features and benefits printed on it.
“LOOK!” you say to them, “This online course will teach you how to make six figures a year!” “Work from home” “super easy!” “passive income!”
(If you can’t tell, we get a lot of targeted ads swearing to fix our company’s problems from people who fix every problem with money).
When you list features and benefits as the reason to buy your product, you assume you know the challenges your audience faces. Every time this happens, the features are inflated beyond what anyone can reasonably promise and the benefits are just a distraction.
Your product or service needs to solve a problem, it needs to address someone’s internal conflict. You can’t create a scalable product that solves specific problems unless you can prove that you have solved the problem in the first place. Consider the three-tier pricing models: what happens when your customer pays for more features, but their problem isn’t solved? “Better” doesn’t matter when “good” hasn’t solved their issue.
But if you did it the other way? Solve the problem, then build a product around it?
Part 3: Features x Benefits = Product/Service works better.
Features x Benefits = Product/Service is in my humble opinion a far better way to frame the reality of what you have to offer. By allowing the internal pain/conflict/struggle that your aligned audience is facing to become the
I started writing this because I think most brands need a reality check about what they are offering - especially when the brands are focused on coaching or consulting. You went into business for yourself because you wanted to help as many people as possible. But, really, how many people can you help?
If every client you took on received 100% of your effort and the most of your attention, how many clients until you totally burn out?
Consider the consultant who wants to show people how they can make six figures a year. How many people can they help with that feature, realistically? These are the consultants who need to learn what their audience is really dealing with (the internal problem!). It may not be about wanting six figures on your income. Rather, their audience may want to work less, leave the job they hate, or increase their income by some degree to save more and plan for a brighter future.
These are the internal struggles and pain points. Your features should be born directly from them. When you address their problems, you tap into the one end-all, be-all benefit that everyone is looking for: hope.
Your audience wants to feel a sense of hope. That’s it.
The opposite of hope? Disappointment – the thing they feel when your product lets them down.
But once they work with you, they get to where they’ve always wanted to go. Every one of us deserves the feeling of hope.
But you can’t deliver that feeling if you don’t feel it yourself. Typically, when business owners try to do more for their audience, they are faced with overwhelm and burnout.
This is why business owners need to look at the triple-tiered product offering in a different light. You’re not adding more features; each level isn’t any more beneficial than the one before it. Rather, the varying levels are there to protect you and keep you in business longer.
The person who signs up for the free tier gets just as much value as someone who drops $50K to get you one-on-one. The tiers aren’t there for them, they are there for you. Everyone gets the lower end, your general audience. But those who are truly aligned with what your brand has to offer to get the premium connection.
Consider the retail lifestyle brand – there are pedestrian editions that are printed and on sale at Target, and then there are the high-level, member’s-only drops that are highly coveted, expensive, and gone in an instant. Musicians who play art fairs and busk on street corners for everyone, but they also play private shows in the backyards of their biggest fans.
Or the blog you publish that gives everyone the top-five tips to becoming a better runner versus the ten people who are in your private training run-club, who pay you thousands each month just to log miles with you.
- The customers know their money is being put to the best, independent businesses and they are getting a unique experience.
- The customer knows their planning efforts and the event will be captured and preserved for the sentiment.
- Executives have more confidence in their sales team and when they need to next present to the board of directors.
It’s all in how much hope they need. Your “Good” offering – at the base of everything you do – should solve their problem. Everything from there on – your better and best offers – depends on the multiplier of the benefits you deliver. The sense of hope Whatever the case, whatever problem you’re helping them resolve, their renewed sense of hope will compound everything else they go forward.
Would you know what this looks like for your brand?