When B2B professionals talk about “intangible” value, they often refer to so-called “soft” value drivers like brand, quality, or reliability. Despite these being critical differentiators for B2B companies, many product marketers don’t try to quantify them in tangible monetary terms. In many cases though, these so-called “soft” value drivers actually have measurable economic impacts. A good practice to uncover these impacts is to link features and benefits to value drivers.
Below are the steps to take:
- Create a List of Differential Features. Features are notable attributes of your product/service offering. Begin by listing out all the differential features of your product/service offering, i.e., attributes that are unique relative to the competition. Only include differential features here. Non-unique features (even though they are customer requirements) are simply “table stakes” and not part of the value quantification.
- Identify Customer Benefits. Next, identify customer benefits by evaluating each feature with the question: “Why should the customer care.” Don’t be surprised to discover that your customers care about only a small subset of your entire list of features. This is not that unusual. Think about a typical Excel spreadsheet user; chances are s/he only uses a handful of the many functions offered on the menu bar. Not only that, but depending on the individual user (or customer segment), they care about different things.
- Quantify Economic Impacts of the Features and Benefits. Once a list of customer benefits is defined, you can begin to consider economic impacts. Usually B2B customers care most about things that impact their key performance indicators, which in turn are correlated to economic impacts. Economic impacts fall into just two broad categories: 1) reducing cost; and 2) increasing revenue. However, the complexity arises when you realize that there are literally hundreds of specific ways (if not more) to reduce cost and increase revenue. Again, economic impacts vary across different segments.
Understanding intangible value is a critically important strategic task for managers to do because so-called intangible value is usually a huge contributor to your offer’s overall value, especially for larger market-leading companies. Sources of intangible value are not easily replicated by new or low-cost competitors. Quantifying this value delivers a powerful message and helps differentiate products from their competitors.