Why Adding More to Your Offers May Not Be Your Best Strategy

Intuitively, when presented with the option of offering more benefits and options to your customers/clients or less, my guess is that you’d choose more every time, right? It just seems obvious, who wouldn’t want more?

But what seems obvious, often isn’t. And, in this case, the opposite of what we assume to be true, usually is. In fact, more is often not more, it’s frequently less.

A classic example of this happened with my wife, Jacquie, and myself several years ago. At the time, we lived outside of Washington, D.C. and in the town next to ours there was a well-known sandwich shop that “everyone” said we had to try. It was called, Roy’s.

So, Jacquie and I ventured out one evening to check out Roy’s. There was only one problem. My wife is not a quick decision-maker. And when we were handed our menus, we were greeted by 225+ sandwich combinations, plus platters, plus dinners, etc. My wife was so overwhelmed with the number of options that it not only took her forever to order, but we never returned to Roy’s. More is not always better.

Drilling Down A Little Deeper

Now, that you get the concept, let’s dig into that idea a little deeper. Let’s say you’re selling a vacation property in Cancun. The natural tendency would be to list everything your all-inclusive property offers and try to sell it all. However, that would not be a wise option. Why?

As Heidi Grant Halvorson wrote in her post on the Presenter’s Paradox, our assumption is that when we list the benefits and options of our offers, we believe our prospects see them ADDITIVELY (i.e. benefit 1 + benefit 2 + benefit 3 + …. = One big number).

However, Heidi’s (and other’s) findings show that prospects AVERAGE the benefits (i.e. 10 + 10+ 10 + 2 does not equal 32, it equals 8 out of 10). In other words, adding something that has a lower perceived value to a package, doesn’t add to the perceived value of the package as a whole, it actually decreases the perceived value of the whole package.

Or to put it another way, for you to promote that your Cancun property has 225+ benefits, would hinder your effectiveness in your marketing.

The Key Question

The key question, of course, is “What is the major/urgent want/desire of your target market prospect?” In other words, what would be a “10” for them? Once you identify the 10’s, you want to focus on those 10’s, not every benefit.

Of course, since no demographic is ever monolithic, that means you need multiple marketing campaigns that target different segments. For example, in the Cancun example, if you want to target an upper middle class demographic, and you identify that their major want/desire is to get away from town and have a remarkable experience with their loved one, you may want to focus on the fact that you offer a top chef kitchen which produces gourmet culinary experiences (vs. the average food that comes with most all-inclusives).

Advertising that you have unlimited alcohol isn’t a differentiator. Nor, is advertising that every room has its own coffee-maker and ironing board. Nor, that you have a big pool with lounge chairs. Every all-inclusive in Cancun has those things (just like every bank offers certain things or every PR firm or every realtor).

On the other hand, if your target market isn’t made of foodies, who cares? What if they were adventurers? Then talking about gourmet food would be irrelevant. In that case, talking about your adventure package of snorkeling and rock climbing, etc. would be what you’d want to talk about.

Why This Matters

Buyers buy for a reason. And they don’t buy for your reasons, they buy for their reasons. And rarely are those reasons all-inclusive. Moreover, when you list all the things your gizmo (or your gizmo service) can do, you’re probably hindering the effectiveness of your marketing efforts (and hence, your sales).

So, what does all this mean for you? It means that if you want to sell more to more people, you’ll have to use a multi-prong marketing approach. The “all-in-one” solution is dead. You can’t be all things to all people. But you can be certain things to certain people.

Which means that you have to know your prospects inside out (note: don’t assume you know what they want). Business owners and entrepreneurs are historically bad at this. You really don’t know what people want and value until you actually talk with them. So talk with them. You may be surprised.

For example, in our Cancun All-inclusive example above, I inserted the desire for gourmet food because … well, that’s what I like. I’m a foodie. Most of the upper-middle class people I know like good quality food (and there are a lot of them in the Charleston SC area). However, what I think (or you think) is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what do they think? What do they want? What would be a 10 to them?

Segment to Offer Less

Once you get your data back, you’re going to discover the there are different buyer profiles among your target market (let’s just call them the foodie group, the adventurer group and the escape group for the Cancun example).

If your website reads, “Want gourmet food, a chance to go spelunking among Mayan caves, and peace and quiet?” you’re probably going to have trouble convincing your target market that you’re the right property for them.

The better option would be to qualify your prospects beforehand and then lead them to the right message for what they want. Most foodies (though not all) aren’t looking to go spelunking. That’s just confusing and counter-productive and, using the content from above, downgrades your offer (remember, benefits are averaged not added).

So, as you take a look at how you’re marketing and selling what you offer, how often are you guilty of trying to sell/market too much? Where are you trying to market/sell a “one-size-fits-all solution”? Where do you think you’re muddying the waters? And then, more importantly, if you were to scale back your message, what would be the one to three most important messages you need to communicate to your target market so they believe you’re the perfect solution to the problem they’re trying to solve?

Remember, communicating more is usually not to your benefit!

To your accelerated success!

P.S. If you’re wondering, “But can’t I list all the benefits somewhere?” The answer is, “Yes!” Just don’t lead with them. Some people will want to know if there’s free wi-fi; or a fridge; or a coffee-maker in a room. But most don’t. They just want to know if your solution will solve their primary problem/need.

P.P.S. This has implications for closing sales as well. If someone wants to buy and you’ve only discussed two benefits, don’t talk them out of the sale by mentioning the other 10 things your gizmo does. Close the deal. They don’t need to know the other 10 things.


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