What’s On Your Menu?

For reasons that will become obvious in a minute, I didn’t play football in high school.

Reason number one: I’ve never understood the appeal of deliberately running into other humans.

Reason number two: In terms of body type, I was officially classified as, “too skinny to even watch safely.”

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Reason number three (as if you need more convincing): When I was a kid, organized football was completely off my radar.

I never attended a professional or college game (still haven’t) and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that in all the years of growing up, I don’t remember ever seeing anyone in my house, under any circumstances, watching football.

And so I can’t really explain why, in the last year or two, I’ve developed the very satisfying habit of watching my local team – The New England Patriots – play every Sunday night.

All I know is that it’s exciting to watch, the perfect sport for television and, thanks to the wonders of TIVO and digital recording, something that doesn’t take a lot of time when I sit down each week.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I got a late start. Even fast-forwarding through the commercials, by the time halftime rolled around, it was waaaaay past my bedtime.

So I figured I would just call it a night and finish up the next evening. Provided … I could manage to not hear the outcome during the course of the following day.

Not as easy as it sounds here in sports-crazed New England:

  • 6:00 AM: The alarm goes off. The guy on the radio starts reading the news. About 20 seconds into it I realize what’s happening and yell to my wife, Linda: “Turn it off, he’s going to give the score!”
  • 7:30 AM: I get to the gym. A very dangerous place, sports score-wise. TVs everywhere; newspapers in the lobby; guys in the locker room chatting. I keep the headphones on and my head down.
  • 9:00 AM: I arrive at my local coffee shop. Again with the newspapers – there’s a big rack of them directly in front of the counter. I refuse to look down while placing my order, prompting the cashier to wonder what I’m staring at above her head.

You get the idea.

But somehow, some way, I manage to make it all the way through the day, never hearing a peep about the game and ultimately enjoying my tape-delayed second half.

All in all, a very strange experience.

Because it occurred to me – as I kept the radio turned off in my car, steered clear of all social media and locked my office door so the mailman couldn’t spill the news – that most of us, most of the time, do exactly the opposite.

What I mean is that rather than systematically trying to avoid a particular piece of information, we spend a good part of our waking hours looking for specific solutions to immediate problems:

  • We need to find a car to replace the one that just died.     
  • We need to choose a service to back up our data.      
  • We need to buy a new sink fixture to replace the one we broke over the weekend while trying to fix a simple leak that in hindsight should have just been left alone and have it installed and functioning before our wife Linda’s book club Thursday night.

Problems, big and small, that need solving now.

I mention all this because when it comes to describing what you do – on your web site or elsewhere – it’s in your best interest to package it up into a clearly defined, tangible solution to a problem … something that a prospective client is already on the hunt for and can recognize.

Most professionals, however, don’t do this. They talk about their qualifications. They talk about their methodology. They talk about their experience, their commitment, their client focus.

All important stuff, absolutely.

But none of it is what I’m looking to buy. The only reason I may care about your qualifications, experience, methodology, etc., is in support of something I can purchase to solve my current problem.

And yet when I get to your web site, while it’s overflowing with professionalism and heady tales of your capability, there is nothing explicitly for sale.

It’s as if I brought you into the kitchen of my restaurant, introduced you to the chef, talked about the quality of the oven and showed you the ingredients. And then I said: “Based on all this, what should we make you for dinner?”

I’m no culinary expert, but it seems to me that when presented with a hungry customer, having a menu with predetermined food choices is going to move things along more quickly.

With that in mind, I invite you to have a look at the marketing programs I offer on my site. Three things I draw your attention to there, as you think about and construct your own “service menu:”

  1. Every program has a name.

    Why? Because tangible things have names. It makes your services feel fully baked. It suggests that you’ve done this before.

  1. Every program has a list of “things you get.”

    Why? Because it helps people visualize the process. It helps them know, beyond simply “engaging your services,” what they’ll receive in return for their money.

  1. There are just a handful of things to choose from.

    Why? Because presenting me with 15 options is only slightly better than giving me a tour of the kitchen – either way the burden is on me to make sense of your ingredients.

    When you give people just a few choices, you simplify the buying process. You make it easy for me to think about how you might help.  

Here’s the bottom line. Nobody wakes up thinking they need an experienced marketing consultant, or a trusted life coach, or a committed financial planner.

They do, on the other hand, wake up thinking they need “more clients,” or “help getting through my divorce,” or “a smart way to save for retirement.”

If you can package your capabilities into simple, buyable chunks that line up with what prospects are searching for, I guarantee you’ll sell a lot more dinners.

11 thoughts on “What’s On Your Menu?

  1. Dick Larkin

    Michael – fantastic insight for simplicity. Here’s a great story.
    in 2001 the company I was working for purchased an online directory business that had sales of $6 million and losses of $8 million. Their menu of products and services was about 4 pages long and filled with confusing terms.
    I had to fire 85% of the staff to keep from running out of money and simplified the product mix to two items. Sales soon surpassed the original number, but profits (and customer satisfaction) were higher than ever. A year later, I reduced the two options to one option and sales doubled again. By 2005, we were selling $40 million of ONE product. We sold the company for $1.6 Billion to Yellowbook USA. Simple = Good

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Wow, now that’s what I call a success story, Dick!

      I can only assume that if you had reduced the options further, to zero, that sales would have doubled yet again!?

  2. Jean Gogolin

    One of your absolute best, Michael. I’m going straight to my website to make sure I’m following that advice. Cool.

  3. Hans-Werner

    perfect, you brought it to the point again , as we say. I’ actually dealing with this problem too and you always come in time to underline the importants.
    Thank you Michael..

  4. Kevin Harris

    I look forward to your podcasts ever time there is a new one on my itunes download. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with my company and I am going to address our menu quickly.

    I also want to thank you for highlighting the need for for an online backup service among the million problems out there that someone or some company needs to address. It’s what we offer and when I’ve been doing for over 14 years. It’s crucial for anybody that has important, irreplaceable computer data.

    Thank you for your writings and I look forward to the next one.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      You’re welcome Kevin! Glad you’re enjoying the podcasts. And yes, I agree, once you lose all your data you never forget about the importance of back up!!

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Yes, pronto is good! And, in answer to your previous email, your photo is showing up just fine with your comment (nicely done!).


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