This might surprise you coming from a man-mountain. But I spend more time than is strictly healthy with my elbows propped on a stainless steel countertop, staring intently at the menu board of the China Xpress.
It’s odd. I’m a creature of habit. I’ll usually order cod, chips and peas, and when I don’t, I’ll go for a Singapore vermicelli.
But I’m fascinated by the menu. Not because I spend time wondering about what it’d be like to order something different, but because it’s a masterclass in a small business increasing the amount of money that its customers spend.
It’s all about the packages.
It’s all on the menu anyway – why do you need packages?
We’re told time and time again that customers like choice.
When you walk into your local takeaway, you’re bombarded with choices. Dozens of dishes on the menu, glass cabinets piled high with pies, sausages and chicken, fridges crammed with every type of carbonated sugar drink you can name.
Giving them options is powerful. So how can it be that limiting this choice with a pre-determined package is somehow even more powerful?
It’s all about value.
It doesn’t matter what you’re selling. It could be Szechuan pork, it could be stationery equipment, it could be online courses. Your customers will like having a choice, but they’re really only looking for one thing. Something that meets their needs.
All of the other options are just window dressing. It’s nice that I can get beef in black bean sauce, but let’s face it, I’m very much a Singapore vermicelli guy.
What packages do is take the item that the customer initially wanted, and entice them into spending more by bundling together a few complementary products or services.
Sometimes it’s by simplifying a purchasing decision by packaging together a number of products that work well together and applying a small discount.
Other times it’s by adding other elements that it wouldn’t make sense to purchase alone and using that to increase the value of the product or service your customer initially wanted.
We’ll call these two approaches the Set Menu Approach and the Piling on the Peas Approach.
Making it simple – the Set Menu Approach
Ordering a takeaway should be simple.
You choose somewhere that serves food you enjoy, preferably with lots of options so you can vary your order depending on what you’re in the mood for, and order a couple of mains, some starters and something to drink.
But it never is, is it? You spend ages weighing up your options. BBQ ribs or salt and pepper ribs? Fried rice or boiled rice? Do we really need two medium chips, or can we split a large?
It goes on, and on, and on, until you end up with a compromise meal that sees you somehow splitting three mains between two of you (because he’ll take the sweet and sour pork to work tomorrow, honest), there’s not enough rice and you forgot to order the bloody spring rolls.
It’s the same when you offer your customers a broad range of options. Analysis paralysis can set in, and they’ll end up buying something now – to see how they get on – with every intention of coming back again later.
But you’ll know that if they just bought these two items together, they’d see much better results.
The Set Menu package solves this issue by reducing the choice and incentivising your customers to spend more now.
Sure, you can argue about the merits of prawn toast over prawn wontons for half an hour. Or you can order Set Menu B. Two mains, two starters, two drinks and a bag of prawn crackers. Sure, you weren’t planning on prawn crackers, but if you add the prices up you’ve saved three quid.
You’re fed, you’re happy, you’re three quid better off and you’re doing it again next week.
It doesn’t matter that you’d have normally split a starter and you’ve ended up with more than you initially wanted – you’ve had a good deal.
And the chippy has just earned a repeat customer and sold more food than they otherwise would have. Everyone wins.
Applying the Set Menu Approach
I used this Set Menu approach when designing my copywriting packages for 603 Copywriting. Much like hungry diners all tend to go for one main, one starter and one drink, different SMEs tend to ask for similar things – a 6-page website, a blog post per week, a landing page and emails.
By bundling these together as set packages, I removed the analysis paralysis, and made it easy (and rewarding) to buy the whole website now instead of doing one page, then coming back for another in a month’s time.
Setting up your set menu package is just as easy. Work out what the most common order is from your customers, and put it together in a simple package. Make it cheaper to purchase than all of the individual assets would be if they bought everything separately, and give it pride of place in your marketing.
Adding value – the Piling on the Peas Approach
The set meals are fine for a Chinese banquet. But what about Friday night when you’re coming home from the pub and you could just murder fish and chips?
Well, there’s a package for that too, if you take a look at the menu. And it’s a very clever package indeed.
Fish Supper (Cod, chips, peas): £5.50
Aha! I’d like the Fish Supper please, even though it’s 50p more than the meal of cod and chips that I was originally going to order. Because a portion of mushy peas will go really well with that fish, and it’s probably healthy to have something green that’s not been immersed in hot oil. Go on. Fish Supper.
You see, you’d never pop into the chippy for just a pot of mushy peas. Sure, you’ll buy a bag of chips now and again, and there’s nothing wrong with picking up some battered cod when you know there’s half a loaf of Warburton’s at home and a fish butty would hit the spot.
But you’ll never just buy the peas. And really, a quid’s a lot for some mushy peas.
By dropping the price and bundling the peas in as a package, everyone wins. I’ve got a better meal and I’ve saved myself 50p, and the chippy’s just made 50p extra by selling a portion of peas that they’d never otherwise sell.
It doesn’t matter that the peas cost about half a penny a portion to make. They’ve increased the value of the meal, so we’re all happy to spend a little bit more.
Applying the Piling on the Peas Approach
Clients would approach us with an idea of what they needed, and it wouldn’t include things like monitoring or split-testing. After all, you’d never buy a monthly report on its own, just like you’d never pop to the chippy for a tub of mushy peas or carton of gravy. So we piled on added extras that’d increase the value of the services we offered.
By adding extras like in-depth research, variations on straplines, and split-testing functions (along with monitoring for our retainer packages), we made it worth our customers’ while to spend a little more in exchange for a more in-depth service.
Your business can do this too by finding your peas. Extra services that you couldn’t sell on their own, that don’t increase your workload by too much, but that still provide that extra value.
Fish Supper or a Set Menu B? What’s the right approach for your business?
By now, one of two things will have happened.
Either you’ll be logging in to Just Eat and seeing if the local Chinese is open so you can tuck into a king prawn chow mein after work.
Or you’ll be wondering which of the Chinese chip shop approach to packages will help you increase the amount your customers spend and add more value to your products and services.
If your product range is broad and sometimes confusing to new clients, then start thinking about set menus. Give your prospects a simple way to get everything they need as a single transaction.
And if you know you could easily add genuine or ongoing value to your services over a longer period, well it’s time for you to pour some peas onto your cod and chips.
Either way, by making it easier for your clients to spend more and get more, you’ll see more success for your business and deliver better value to your prospects. And that’s definitely food for thought.