Tech Specs: What are they good for? Absolutely nothing


I have often wondered why web hosting plans are sold by technical specs… computers too for that matter. Don’t get me wrong, technical specifications of a product are pretty much as detailed as it gets for buying purposes. It can tell us exactly what we need to know. However, without some form of training in web hosting or with computers, you might as well be given a list written entirely in Koine Greek.

Let’s leave that right there for now and look at one of the most successful products of all time, the car. The best part of selling a car is that the whole process can be reduced to one feature, price. A great deal of the features and even the uses for the car can be quickly learned just from looking at it. We know that trucks are used for towing, hauling, carrying payloads, etc. We know that your average smallish car will probably have great fuel economy, no leg room, and also won’t go very fast. Cars with an increased amount of curves and a sleek look will probably go really fast, go through gas like there is no tomorrow, and you will have an insatiable urge to only want the car in either red or black.

In each of these three cases, we have tech specs accompanying each vehicle. In a car lot, they are normally all located on the sticker sheet attached to the window. The difference is the spec sheets are not center stage. Even on the sheet itself the price is in larger print and in a location readily seen.

In most cases, we go to a car lot already knowing the type of car we want. This way we can remove about 90% of the lot from our search. The next deciding factor is price. We already know what we are looking at in terms of budget and they decrease the field even more. Lastly, we know a HANDFUL of things we want. For myself, the engine has to match the car (i.e. you will never see me drive a truck with a 4-cylinder, ain’t happening), it has to have cruise control, and lastly it has to have power windows.

After that is all done, I take each vehicle I have left for a test drive. In the end, it is further whittled down to only a small few (I love to drive so I am extremely picky with how a car handles). From that I look at maintenance costs (gas mileage, how often the make and model breaks down, cost of parts… gotta love having a smartphone and browsing the net for car problems while you are looking) and the cost of the car itself to produce a sort of value number in my head. The car with the highest value wins.

Problem with web hosting is you really can’t test drive it per se (more on this later), you can’t just look at it and know what it does (same with computers really), and lastly it is very difficult to determine value.

Equally problematic is using a feature list to prove value since the average user doesn’t know what the features mean and if we have learned anything from computer sales, the average person doesn’t want to learn about the features.

So how do you go about solving the problem of selling a product a lot of people need even though they have very little working knowledge about it?

Oh nearly forgot, the biggest hurtle of all. Web hosting provides 0 products. Instead it would be me giving someone a paint brush, some paint, and easel and saying get to it. Some of us (yes I include myself in that hehe) can build masterpieces with the tools given to us by web hosts. However, and I am going to make up a number cause I like making up statistics, 95.7% of the web hosting audience does not.

So for homework tonight, I want everyone to think about how you can go about selling a product that:

  • the majority of people need
  • that is not tangible
  • that is difficult to determine apparent value
  • that is not a finished product
  • whose features are mysterious
  • and test driving is difficult considering the amount of effort involved moving stuff (again more on that tomorrow)

Tomorrow we will go over the answers to this interesting problem. I will say this, there are currently two ways to do it and unfortunately one of them has failed thus far.

Categories : Marketing

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