It is an age-old issue and one would have thought the jury would have returned and sorted it but it still keeps rearing its ugly head. In the world of selling stuff, offering a service, or just getting ahead it would seem that selling features still turns heads. It would seem that the excitement of 'bells and whistles' still creates the desire to buy. If empty vessels still make more noise then are we not wary of bling and glamour? Allegedly it was Benjamin Franklin that made the famous quote; 'The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten'. So how does this effect the art and science of marketing and communications? Could Donald Trump's success be the result of the desire for the average American to believe in bluff and fantasy. Does bull shit really baffle brains? Well it would seem that way. If Volkswagen can cheat their customers into believing they are greener than green and then still continue to be the leading brand in their small car sector when they are outed what should the average marketing team's strategy be.
If you want to get noticed publish a story online and don't worry for a moment if its untrue just be careful its not libellous. So what has all this got to do with features and benefits. Well in the end it has to be about benefits, Will Trump's presidency change things for the better, does a VW polo do the job effectively? If you flood Facebook,Twitter and your blog with positive brand stories, make up customer recommendations, lie about online traffic and sales will this create an amazing short cut to success? Will the public believe the hype and then even recommend, re-market and support the positivity you create? Will you ever be found out and even if you are does it matter? We have always believed that quality will-out and your customers will ultimately call time on over-selling, hype and your brand if not the whole company will be damaged beyond repair by such unscrupluous sales antics.
Unfortunately, this does not seem to be happening as regularly as one would hope. Food with too much salt, sugar and fat still outsells healthy alternatives, the public continues to get larger! Bigger is better! Great features dubious benefits especially long term. With so many conflicting approaches how can you create a coherent sales and marketing strategy and how do you develop tactics to deliver the strategy? You can focus on creating features that out 'feature' your competitors for the same price but this avoids focusing on the bigger question of what your customers actually want and the core benefits they are willing to pay for.
In the technology sector Moore's law, where the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years, still holds true and this continues to drive Intel, Apple, Microsoft and Oracle's product strategy to name a few winners. This is then reflected in computer program size and power, broadband speed and, for instance, the quality of the CGI in our movies, not to mention the way stocks are traded and the speed we can analyse DNA. It would seem that in this situation the feature of transistor density really is translated into an immediate benefit if you believe in better CGI and faster drug research and development which, of course, we must. However, it also helped VW cheat the emissions test and allowed North Korea to build a better ICBM.
So it would seem that the reason that benefits and features continue to stress the sales team, challenge the marketeers and drive R&D is that both have their place in your business. Could it be that well thought through features will always create benefits, of course, this is the truth we just have to careful of golden haired snake oil salesmen.