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What are your thoughts on how to distinguish between what is a product, feature, and solution?

10 Answers
Derek Frome
Derek Frome
Ouster Vice President MarketingSeptember 6

To me, a solution is a prescriptive collection of products and features that solve a well-defined problem for your customer. A product is anything you could conceivably sell on its own, but a product can also be a collection of other products. A feature is a component piece of a product that adds to its value but cannot be sold on its own. 

 

Products, features, and solutions tend to get different levels of attention from PMMs. Products will naturally get the most, solutions are really just collections of products and are therefore more an exercise in packaging and pricing. Features get attention insofar as they need to be launched, marketed, and incorporated into the story for the products and solutions they serve. Resource your PMM attention accordingly. 

1693 Views
Matt Hodges
Matt Hodges
Equals Head of Product MarketingNovember 1

Great question–tough to answer without getting too specific about Intercom and what works for us based on our own situation and approach in general. But, here goes. :)

 

For us, a product is a container for a set of mutually exclusive features that enable specific workflows to be completed. For example, our Engage product has a set of core features (available on Engage Lite) that make it possible to send targeted messages to leads and customers. Some of these features are audience targeting, auto messages (email, in-app, and push), and smart campaigns to name a few. There is an optional additional set of features available for on Engage Standard that enable more sophisticated workflow to be completed. For example, A/B testing allows you to optimize the targeted messages you are sending to leads and customers.

 

Our products can be applied on their own, or in combination with other products, to solve different problems for different teams–these are what we call solutions. For example,  Engage can be used on its own by marketing teams to onboard, activate, and upsell more customers. When combined with our Respond product, sales teams can use the same features to capture, qualify and convert more leads.

 

FWIW, internally we're not in love with the word "Solutions" because of some of the connotations it carries with it. Additionally, like 'Products', it's also noun which can cause confusion, since you don't buy "Solutions" from Intercom, you buy "Products" which can solve different problems based on how you apply them. We're still working through this. It's not easy and I've not come across anyone who does it particularly well.

2085 Views
Div Manickam
Div Manickam
Mentor : Career | Leadership | Product MarketingDecember 6

It's easy to use the words product, feature, and solution as different options. As product marketers, it's important for us to understand the subtle differences.

  • A feature is the smallest element or component that solves a specific job. 
  • A product includes a set of core features and functionality that solves for unique needs. 
  • A solution solves a business need and is typically tied to a target segment by market size and/or industry.
1080 Views
Mike Flouton
Mike Flouton
GitLab VP, ProductAugust 24

Of the three, product and solution have the most overlap. In a technology context most often the difference is that a solution involves more than just a piece of software. The whole solution may also include the software plus bundled content, professional services and an ecosystem of integrations, for example.

 

Personally, I don't find this dinstinction particularly useful, and mostly use product and solution interchangeably. A product is useless if it's not solving a problem (hello, Kickstarter!), so most PM and PMMs think in terms of "whole product," which includes everything needed to solve a problem.

 

That aside, products and solutions mostly stand alone as something someone is willing to pay for.  A feature is any subset of that that is not able to stand alone. It's something that most people are only going to be willing to pay for as part of a solution purchase. 

959 Views
Pat Ma
Pat Ma
Guidewire Software Senior Product Marketing ManagerNovember 4

Product: This is your product or platfrom (e.g. Salesforce Sales Cloud)
Feature: This is a specific part of the platfrom that customers can use (e.g. Contacts, Leads, Accounts, Opportunities)
Solution: This is a use case for your product - by need, industry, or persona (e.g. I need to track sales, SFDC for Financial Services, SFDC for VP of Sales)

790 Views
Carlos González de Villaumbrosia

Interesting question for sure. I feel that most of these answers do a great job of highlighting the distinction, but something I would add is that the product is essentially the vehicle for the solution. You can't have a solution without a product, but you can have a product that doesn't offer a solution. 

A feature is merely an additional part of the product that may create a quicker solution, a new type of solution, or just be a meaningless add-on. 

Of course, there is a lot of contextual elements that go into this, but I would say that the summation of these answers gives you a clear view of the differences .

735 Views
James Winter
James Winter
Spekit VP of MarketingAugust 25

For more info on what Mike mentioned about the "whole product" I'd highly recommend reading the relevant chapter in Crossing the Chasm.

561 Views
Dave Daniels
Dave Daniels
BrainKraft FounderMarch 21

It's a difference with little distinction. From a buyer's POV it's the thing that solves their problem or satisfies their need. 

Some sales VPs want to use the word 'solution' because they believe they can sell bigger deals. OK. Whatever. The underlying thrust of using the world 'solution' is because it gets everyone thinking about problems. As in we have a 'solution' to 'problem X'. 

580 Views
Lisa Dziuba
Lisa Dziuba
Lemon.io Head of Growth Product MarketingDecember 4

The distinctions between what is a product, feature, and solution can be somewhat subjective and can vary depending on the specific context and perspective. My POV:

  • A product can be thought of as a standalone offering that provides value to the customer and can be sold and delivered independently. 
  • A feature is a specific component or aspect of a product that provides a specific benefit or capability, and is typically part of a larger product offering. 
  • A solution is a combination of products, features, and services that addresses a specific customer need or challenge, and provides a comprehensive solution to a problem or opportunity.

Usually, PMMs and PMs make a product catalog where each part of the functionality is kind of classifies to be a feature, standalone product, or even ecosystem solutions :)

462 Views
Clare Hegg
Clare Hegg
Skopenow Director of Product MarketingAugust 31

I'm going to focus on just one part of that equation: Solution. This is an often misrepresented piece of the product marketers toolkit. I have found that so many companies put together a list of products an call it a solution, I would consider this a 'bundle' 'package' or 'toolkit.' A solution, as the name implies, should SOLVE a very specific set of problems for a specific audience type. It will generally include both product, services, and even best practices or expertise from the offering company. 

685 Views
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