I receive new feature requests for Purlem on a near-daily basis. My instinct is to try and please everybody by adding all feature requests that come in – this is a very dangerous road to go down.
During the first year of Purlem, I started going down this road. Heck.. I was gitty just because somebody was showing interests in the product. The last thing I wanted to say was “Sorry, we can’t do that.” So I started to build in every feature requests that came in.
Before I knew it Purlem was not only a PURL application, but also had a complete Email Marketing platform and Content Relationship manager built right it! Purlem was quickly turning into a very complex application. My initial focus on doing the basics of PURL marketing extremely well was quickly fading into the background. I was becoming just like my competitors by trying to offer everything for everybody.
After a little deliberation, I ended up removing all features but those required to perform the basics of PURL marketing. It was not an easy change as I did disappoint a few paying users of Purlem. But after explaining my rational, not 1 user ended up canceling because of this change. I would argue that this helped to even establish a deeper relationship with these users and they were excited about being part of something that was growing and changing. This was probably one of the best early-stage moves I made, and I attribute much of Purlem’s success to this.
Today, when considering adding a new feature to Purlem, I look at two things:
- Would it make the application more complex?
- Would less than 80% of Purlem users use the application?
If the answer was YES to either of the questions, I wouldn’t add the feature. Simple as that.
As Purlem continues to grow, and attract larger and larger companies, there is a new wave of feature requests coming in. These features I call “Enterprise Features” as they help the larger companies use Purlem more efficiently. The nice thing about adding these features is that Purlem will not only win a larger client (which is always nice), but could also help position Purlem to attract other larger clients with similar needs. The downside of these features is that 80% of Purlem users will not use this feature. In fact, these features, for now, will likely only be used by the company requesting it!
In some of these cases, I think it is important to break the 80% rule. This only leaves the question “Would it make the application more complex?” If the answer to this question is NO, then I think it is important to still consider adding this Enterprise Feature.
Feature requests can be a balancing act for startups like Purlem. I dont’ think that early-stage startups still refining their product/market fit have the luxury to forget feature requests as 37 signals promotes in their Getting Real book. There is a lot of value to be gained by working with 1 on 1 with clients to create new features. In some cases the clients will also help financially with getting the new features created. It is, however, important for Purlem to remain extremely selective and intentional on the features we choose to add.
I can’t loose sight of Purlem’s original mission of doing the basics of PURL marketing extremely well. As tempting as it is to please everybody.
Have a feature request for Purlem? Post to our Feature Request forum.