In a Contested Market, Build Stand Apart Features

There will always be competition

Eleven years ago, when The Events Calendar was created, I'm pretty sure they didn't realize how many calendar plugins were going to be created. Plugins like Gravity Forms and Yoast SEO also probably didn't imagine today's landscape. But if you're stepping into the market today, you need to think about stand apart features more than anyone. Because the competition is coming!

The WordPress ecosystem is filled with “me too” plugins

Don't get me wrong. I don't think every plugin in a category that appears after another already exists, qualifies as a “me too” product.

How do you make sure you're not a “me too” product?

Here are three questions I would ask myself:

  1. Am I adjusting the business model?
  2. Am I solving existing challenges that have existed for a while?
  3. Am I building stand apart features that the original players never did?

If you can't say yes to at least two of these questions, you might be in jeopardy of being a me-too player.

Build stand apart features as a differentiator

The other day I wrote about roadmaps and roadmap themes and one of them was differentiation. So let's go a bit further into that space when we're talking about differentiation, roadmaps, and stand apart features.

What's a stand apart feature?

It's a feature that your competitor's don't have, that your customers really want, and that you're ready to promote.

How do you know if your feature idea qualifies?

  1. Are you doing something that no one else is doing?
  2. If others have imitated you, have you gone deeper to solve more issues?
  3. Have you gotten feedback from customers about the feature?

Here's an example: The Event Aggregator

Many premium plugins have free editions. The normal story is that people try the free plugin and if they love it and want more features, they move to the Premium edition.

But something else happens when you start with the free The Events Calendar plugin. Tons of customers don't jump to the premium edition.

Instead, they buy the Event Aggregator before the Pro version.

If you have people using your free plugin and buying a premium add-on instead of the Pro version of your product, you've likely figured out the stand apart feature dynamic.

There are a lot of competitors to The Events Calendar. Many copy them. Many create a lot of “me too” features. Many have an importer.

But no one delivers the features like the Event Aggregator does. It's a stand apart feature because it doesn't just integrate with Google, Meetup, Eventbrite, and any iCal standard feed. Not just once. Not just daily. As often as you want.

And when it goes back and pulls the feed again, it doesn't re-create existing content. In other words, it has a smart filter.

Others will say they have a similar feature. But test it. Try it. And you realize why people buy this before they even buy the Pro version.

Now, look at your feature list

As you look at the features you're getting ready to build in the next six months, I'll leave you with this list of 5 questions to ask.

I'm not telling you that you shouldn't build any other features.

But if you want to build stand apart features, then you need to answer these questions.

  1. Do I have anything on my list that is really new to the space?
  2. Is there a feature in my plans that people would buy separately?
  3. Do we have requests that we've thought of as “not really what we do”?
  4. Would embracing that “not our core” feature bring new customers to us?
  5. Which of our planned features will attract new customers?

Hopefully these five will help you identify stand apart features for your product?

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Chris Lema
Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.