By Robert Dempsey, Contributing {grow} Columnist

The information density of our world is creating a challenge for every indvidiual and business.  We have not yet reached the Age of Filtering!  And while you may be thinking “more is better,” maybe we can take a sales lesson from an unlikely source – a Thai Food Cart.

The Paradox

Many companies offer a long list of services, which makes their website nearly impossible to navigate and confuses a would-be buyer. While it may seem like a paradox, offering fewer options increases the likelihood of getting more business. To see why, I’m going to use an example of something seen quite frequently here in Thailand – the open-air restaurants composed of between 10 and 100 food carts.

Specialization: The Lesson of a Thai Food Cart

In every Thai town there is one common sight – open-air “restaurants” composed of food carts. Each evening food vendors drive or wheel in their food carts (some are the entire back of a pickup truck), set up tables and chairs, and start cooking. You want to talk about competition? These restaurants can have 10, 50 … even 100 of these carts!  In this environment you have to be very good at what you do. And that means specializing.

These carts run the gamut of tasty offerings:

  • Noodle soup
  • Roasted pork leg with rice
  • Sweet desserts
  • Fried chicken
  • Sausages

… and many other dishes.  Heck, even the soups are broken into different styles – one cart may be selling pork soups and another chicken.

The point is that each of these vendors specializes in one type of dish. But it’s not limited to food carts.

Many of the restaurants here have a limited menu, offering only curries or 6 different chicken dishes. The restaurants that have a signature menu item are the ones that have the longest line of people waiting to get in.

What is YOUR signature item?

Well I’m assuming you aren’t actually running a food cart as your business but don’t let the example hold you back from seeing the lesson, which is offering too many options to customers may not be a good thing for your business.

When a potential customer visits your website, they don’t know what the right answer is for them. If they did, they wouldn’t be searching for it. But they do know, more or less, what their problem is. That’s where content – be it on your blog or on your sales pages – comes in.

Don’t confuse them with a large list of services, products or solutions.  Show them you understand their problem and can help them solve it.

And Don’t Worry – This Is Very Common

If this is how your website is set up today, don’t feel bad – it’s how the majority of websites are built. Take a look at the site of any large company, hit their home page, and take note of how many actually address a problem within the first 5 seconds of you reading it. It’s going to be very few.

So now the question is, if we know that specialization can increase demand for what we do and probably allow us to charge premium prices to do it, why aren’t more companies doing it? In a word: fear.

Don’t Let Fear Run Your Business

Are you afraid of losing business if you don’t have that long list of services available? I know I used to be. I thought that by not offering a service I was losing out. But what I was really losing was my most valuable asset – time. It was only when I honed in on where my business can provide the most value – direct response social media – and specializing in that, that demand increased and so did my prices.

How can you apply the specialization lesson from the Thai food cart in your business?

Robert Dempsey specializes in direct response social media and blogs at http://DempseyMarketing.com/journal/.

Image courtesy of Heinrich Damm

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