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When is Too Much Just Enough?

One of the hardest decisions an entrepreneur has to make, and especially one in a service business, is how to sell and market itself by demonstrating value – without giving away too much so that the business and their services are no longer needed.  If the business, and the entrepreneur, do such a comprehensive job in response to a questions like, “how would you address this issue?”  Or, provides so much information that the prospect can essentially, “connect the dots” on their own without the benefit of hiring the company, the business owner fears that it may market itself out of potential sales.

Two Examples

Fries aplenty, or all image?

Fries aplenty, or all image?

A high-growth fast food feeder, Five Guys, uses a technique that builds tremendous loyalty among diners.  On the face of it, they appear to be providing “extra fries” to the customer by loading a cup full of fries (thereby establishing the expectation of what an “order of fries” contains) – but then they place the cardboard holder of fries into a paper bag and then add additional fries ON TOP of the “original” order.  The impression one is left with is that the clerk/restaurant has provided an extra amount of fries and is therefore, a terrific value.  As a customer, it is our default desire to “want something for nothing.”  Five Guys plays into that desire by seeming to offer “above and beyond” the expected quantity of fries.  Of course, if one looks at it more analytically – the price of fries established is for the “bag size” and not for the cardboard holder size of fries – so there is no real “extra fries” at all.  However, the impression is that the restaurant is offering more value than competition does on an order of fries for the price.


Another take on the “something for nothing” concept of offering value can be seen in the way that, “River Pools” offers very detailed education on their website about the criteria and decisions one should consider in choosing, building, and caring for a pool.  Many competitors would be horrified at the idea of “giving away” so much value on the website without receiving commitments from prospects to do business together first.

What Marcus Sheridan, the co-owner of River Pools has discovered is that the opposite outcome occurs.  BECAUSE his company and site is so comprehensive and appears to advocate as strongly for the person shopping for pools – that the level of trust the shopper has for the company is exponentially higher than the competition.  By providing value without expectation of an immediate sale, the company has actually increased their revenue, sales, customer count, etc. by geometric proportions.

So, rather than worry about how much the company is “giving away” through marketing, sales presentations, and other communications with prospects and customers, perhaps it is time to ramp up the value being provided and then reap the benefits of those efforts.  From a customer/prospect’s perspective, the value being offered for free is seen as being dwarfed by the value the company will provide once under contract (“if this is what they share without a contract, imagine how much I get when I am a customer!”).

David Zahn