Does every feature launch need differentiators?

Not every feature needs to be different, and that's a good thing for clear storytelling.

Apr 18, 2024

Apr 18, 2024

Do you spend time trying to find competitive differences in every feature you ship?

Too much feature differentiation is confusing

Products change quickly, so when you try to make everything into the first / best / only product to have a feature, you have a limited window of time.

Not everything you make will be unique – and that’s fine. So, what should you focus on?

The 10-20% of your product which is actually, truly unique. The part of your product that is a consistent source of value for customers. The part that hooks people, and creates commitment as a customer. Not the majority of your product, but the majority of your secret sauce. This is where you should invest energy to develop a narrative about your product updates.

Your best differentiators will probably be at the solution level – not a specific feature.

Customers buy because you're different AND useful

Differentiation is a choice, and others may not follow your lead or go in a completely different direction. This makes for good storytelling, and as an opportunity to contrast the parts of your own approach which stand out. Stories about differentiation are a great way to highlight those choices. Choices like – who is your target audience? What do you prioritize? How does this lead to your strategy?

Differentiation is useful, of course. But it is not a checklist item – customers don’t buy products because they are unique, they buy products that help them. And yes, having key differentiators like pillar features or target audiences or unique perspectives helps.

Sometimes you have banner features – the ones you REFUSE to be second best at, and those are different (and deserve a really great product announcement). But that new line chart you shipped last week? Great, but probably not affecting customer decisions.

Spending time trying to come up with some unique angle for everything you do hurts your story. Stories have surface area, and the more you add to them the more frontier you have to explore to get people up to speed. If you aren’t careful, you can spend a lot of time wandering around the edges and miss the most important parts. Everything in your product competes for attention. Budget accordingly.

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