Value in a product comes not necessarily from features per se, but features that create desired outcomes for users or buyers.
As founders, how do we determine what creates value?
The solution to this question is to think about what kind of desired outcomes users and buyers (who are not necessarily the same group) want, and then to add features, services and/or experiences to fulfill these desired outcomes.
By "desired outcomes" I mean those that:
Solve their current problem(s)
Solve their anticipated problem(s)
Generate future opportunities that they want
Fulfill a need or want (for eg. hardcore golf aficionados don't have problems to be solved per se, but they do have a want for the latest and greatest golf technology)
Often desired outcomes belong to the categories of:
This can then be broken down into the subcategories of:
Convenience (ease of doing)
Savings (scoop out more of from a *fixed* pie – for eg. time) E
Enhancement (create more of with no limit to the upside – for eg. money)
Ideally, it is only your product that can create these desired outcomes - this is when you can really make it rain money with a monopoly.
It's important to focus on the "desired" part of "desired outcomes".
Because you can solve a problem or create an opportunity that doesn't benefit them in the way *they want*.
An example is solving a customer's termite problem by burning down their house. You've gotten rid of their termites alright, but not in a way that they want (unless they're weirdos).
The other possibility is that you create outcomes that either aren't important and/or aren't relevant to them.
Important vs Relevant
There's a distinction between important and relevant.
Important means that the issue has some sort of significant consequential bearing on their lives.
Relevant means whether they care about the issue in the here and now.
Here's are examples to explain:
Important + Relevant = Feeling pain in your left chest (could be a heart attack)
Important + Irrelevant = Failing your medical school exams, but you don't care because you were going to drop out anyway to become an artist
Unimportant + Relevant = Deciding between pizza or bibimbap for lunch
Unimportant + Irrelevant = What your next-door neighbor had for lunch
I would say that the bigger test to watch out for in the immediate term is whether something is relevant to your buyer or user.
What they care about in the here and now they will take action on - and what they don't care about, they won't - no matter how important.
An example that deftly illustrates relevance (or lack thereof) are the large number of high school kids these days pumping themselves full of steroids.
The prospect of major health problems (including organ failure) is just too far removed into the future so it's not relevant to them in the here and now even though it's deathly important (literally)
Think about what's desired and build features from that
To sum up, don't start by thinking of exact features or capabilities to add. Instead, begin by considering what outcomes your users and/or buyers desire.
Then come up with features, services and experiences that answer the following questions:
For prospects: What is it that will benefit my prospect such that they want to start doing business with me?”
For existing customers: “What is it that will benefit my client such that they will want to continue doing business with me and/or do more business with me?"
Using the above framework as the foundation of your thinking, you can then expansively generate (whether in-house or in partnership with others) completely new offerings (or enhancements to existing offerings) that ultimately benefit your prospect and/or customer.
Give it a try.