The Gold Feature MRD Technique In a previous issue of the 280 Insider (June 2004) we discussed how to use themes as a technique for writing MRDs (Market Requirements Documents) and keeping your team and product releases focused. Another powerful and useful approach is called the Gold Feature technique. The idea behind the Gold Feature technique is that you choose a single feature that is the absolute most important priority for the release, and then you get the entire team to rally around it as the focus. This single feature provides enough customer value to hang the entire release on. It is compelling enough that all of your customers will want to upgrade (and some potential new customers will be further convinced to purchase). And it is simple enough to communicate from a marketing and competitive point of view that it gives your product a noticeable boost. Ideally you should be able to describe the Gold Feature in one to five words. Some examples might include: 1.) 30% Faster Performance 2.) Import MS Word files or 3.) Double your battery life. It has to be simple and very compelling - if your release has a long list of features, but you can't find a one to five word value message to communicate, it's going to be very hard to build a marketing campaign and keep your product focus. The Gold Feature technique is particularly effective if you are on short release cycles or are doing a point release (1.1, 1.2, etc). Many of your team members may want to include all kinds of other features that can be of varying interest and value to your customers. If you can get them focused on the one Gold Feature for the release (and in agreement that everything else is a "nice to have" priority but that you won't hold up the release for it), you'll have a much better chance of success. You'll also have a higher likelihood of meeting a tight schedule, as you can plan the release with more certainty if the Gold Feature is the only critical path item. I've used this technique successfully several times when working with clients. One of the releases had a client-side piece of software that was downloaded from the web, and the Gold Feature was "60% smaller download," resulting in more rapid adoption by new customers. Another was "Easier signup process", which led to 30% more customers completing the signup process to try out the product. Using the Gold Feature technique is an easy and powerful way to keep your products and your team focused and on track. The result will be a great product delivered on schedule that provides value to your customers and a compelling marketing message.
Brian Lawley is the President of the 280 Group, the Product Marketing & Product Management Experts™. The 280 Group provides consulting, contractors, training and templates to help companies define, launch and market breakthrough new products. For more information about the 280 Group's services and toolkits (Product Roadmap, Product Launch, Beta Program, Developer Program & others) visit www.280group.com.