One of the recurring requests I get from my clients is to help them prioritise their service features. One of the best models I have seen is the Kano model, developed by Professor Noriaki Kano in the 80s. This model may help you to:
- Prioritise your features for go-to-market or for further investment; and
- Prioritise the capabilities of your service to focus on in your marketing campaign.
To put it simple, according to Kano, assign each of your features into one of 3 categories: Basic features, Performance features or Attractive features.
Features that belong to the Basic category are basic and expected – like tires on a car. You wouldn’t like to invest a lot of money into an ad campaign to tell everyone that your car has tires – unless you want a virus effect. Similarly, building a car with 6-8 or even 10 tires will not make your Customers happier. A more relevant example would be secure authentication of users and secure storage of passwords – this is basic and expected today. As you can see in the diagram above, there’s a cap that you easily hit with your Basic features – make sure that your service does the basics, do them well and move on to invest elsewhere.
Performance features are capabilities which can compare your service to your competitors. The more performance features your service has, the higher your chances that clients are choosing you (and pay for those features). An example for a photo sharing site’s performance feature is the storage capacity for the account (100MB or 5GB). In the car industry, it’s the mileage and the horse powers. The more performance features your services has, the happier your Customers are. Put focus on your performance features as this is something that drives your clients’ initial criteria for selection. * This is a strong category, however, where you find the real gold is … :
The Attractive features. These are valuable capabilities that your clients are not even aware exist or possible. An example for an attractive feature is perhaps a mobile phone-optimised web user interface. Or in a market of time tracking/timesheet products, one of my clients built a resource utilisation optimisation feature into their SaaS service, because they knew that none of the timesheet products do that and their Customers will end up running this step manually or through a 3rd party product. Do make sure that you prioritise your attractive features and you articulate them in every possible channel – this is what makes Customers choose you once you proven to be good on the performance features.
If you follow these simple guidelines, your service capabilities will make your proposition stronger and will help you shape your ad campaigns based on what’s important to your Customers.
- Deliver all necessary basic features and do them right – do not stress them when selling your service though as these are expected (4 wheels on a car);
- Offer the best proposition in performance features on your market and make sure that your Customers can compare you with your competitors *;
- Deliver as many attractive (valuable) features as you can – and be verbal about them … these are your key differentiators and key for success.
I hope that this helps to shape your priority list – and please do post a comment with your feedback or ask if we can be of your help!
David Szabo, Cloud Strategy Advisor, Firestarter and Rulebreaker at Microsoft. Startup-addict, SaaS & Cloud consultant, blogger at http://cloudstrategyblog.com and LEGO serious play facilitator. Follow me on Twitter!
* Some of these rules are not fully relevant if you are a big, well-known brand already – in which case, please share your success story with us!