I was having lunch with FindMeFaster‘s CEO, Matt Van Wagner, going over productization (if you’ve been following my posts, you know that’s been on my mind recently) and he shared some marketing wisdom with me.
What’s great about it is that it’s something I’ve seen many times myself and in a wide variety of situations. You’ve seen it, too, I’ll bet.
It goes like this. A new deli opens in your town. All the sandwiches are big. Big on fillings, big on toppings, big on sides, big, big, big.
In fact, the deli quickly becomes known for serving (cue the trumpets) big sandwiches (TADA!).
The sandwiches are huge. They’re monstrous. And they come with fries and coleslaw.
The sandwiches are so huge, they’re so monstrous, they come with so many fries and so much coleslaw that a single sandwich can feed two or more people.
Yep, those are some big sandwiches.
And as this deli’s clientele grows and as time goes by they slowly slowly ever so slowly decrease the size of their sandwiches.
Oh, their sandwiches are still a great value. Now they’re simply more a realistic value.
But it doesn’t matter because the deli and their sandwiches as a brand have stuck. Example: I use to go to Carbur’s in Burlington, Vermont in the early 1970s when I hitchhiked between Boston and Montreal. It was a sandwich shop in the same way that The Beatles were a band. I introduced people from all over the world to Carbur’s, would make it a point to visit either their Burlington, Portland (Maine), Lewiston/Auburn (Maine) and South Hadley (Mass) locations many times each year and always brought others with me.
And everybody I know who knew of Carbur’s always talks about it. No deli/sandwich shop compares (possible exception, the long gone Jack&Marion’s of Brookline, Mass).
Carbur’s truly had big sandwiches. And even when their sandwiches throttled down in size it didn’t matter. The brand had stuck.
Product companies do much the same thing all the time. Ever go to your favorite grocery store and notice a product you’ve regularly purchased is no longer on the shelf? A few weeks later it’s back but with new packaging? Check the before and after sizes, not the packaging. You’ll learn they’ve taken some fat out of the sandwich.
So Matt’s advice re productization is to come out of the gate with a really big sandwich, then change the packaging slowly over time. Such top loading an offering at a below market price is one way to create a user community quickly.
You can change the packaging lots of ways; increase the price, split the product into different pieces, release a new version. Carbur’s did it by periodically changing their menu. The next time the menu changed some of the old sandwiches would be back — you guessed it — slightly smaller.
Something to think about.
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