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Book of Principles
GBOP: When Given the Choice Between Two Options, I Always Make the Same Choice

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This is another entry in my “Book of Principles.” To see where this all began, click here. For a full listing of all posts, click here.

Years ago I started selling something that would eventually help put me through college. This “thing” was a home snowmaker. Some snowmakers can simply be plugged in and turned on, but mine was not one of those. After buying a snowmaker, one of a dozen tiny pieces may be needed to make it fit their setup.

After that, the snowmaker nozzle size/number would vary depending on the flow rate of the pressure washer. In other words, there were a lot of combinations.

So I did what any e-store would do: I sold three models of snowmakers that could be paired with one of three models of hoses. And, if you needed them, you could also add one of six quick connect fittings or adapters to your cart.

Hard to Say
I italicized those four words – if you needed them – for a reason, because after a year of sales, I realized that my customers had no idea what extra pieces they needed until they were out in the yard trying to hook it up on Christmas eve.

Even more, I had some customers buying $10 orders and others spending $1,000. With no pattern between them, I was extremely hard to efficiently spend marketing dollars. It was then I learned:

Simplicity in marketing helps the marketer measure and the consumer understand.

Lacking both, I spent the next two years simplifying my product down to something that the consumer could confidently buy and I could confidently measure.

Step #1) Everything Included
My first step was to include all the pieces they may need in every snowmaker order. Now, instead of 50 things you could buy, there were just the four snowmaker models I offered. When you ordered a snowmaker, you got everything you needed (aka, confident customers).

I raised prices slightly to adjust and, immediately, sales spiked. Significantly. The lack of frustrated customers calling me on Christmas eve dropped to near zero. Plus, I now had a very consistent conversion rate / order amount which made it easy to justify a dramatical increase to my marketing budget (aka, confident marketer).

Step #2) One Snowmaker for Everyone
But I was still getting tons of questions. Specifically, “which gun do I need for my yard?” And past customers were now wanting to “upgrade” their setup, but none were buying because it meant purchasing a whole new gun.

Again the answer was simplifying. I created an interchangeable nozzle system so I could sell one gun to everyone. Sales jumped again, my conversion rate and order amounts became even more consistent (aka, even more confident marketer), and I even went an entire season without a single return (aka, even more confident customers).

Big, Big, Lesson
Over those years I learned a priceless lesson: the more simple I can make my product, the easier it is for my customers to understand (and buy) and the easier it is for me to measure (and know if it’s working).

The ski industry is full of complexity. We have a dozen ticket options, each available to a half dozen age groups. Like my old estore, lodging presents hundreds of combinations that are not only hard to decide between as a consumer, but extremely hard to measure as a marketer. So, ask yourself:

“Where is the highest complexity within the products our resort sells? And what can I do to make it easier to for the skier/traveler to choose and easier for me to confidently measure the ROI of my marketing?”

Look around and you’ll see that some of the most successful companies also have the simplest product lists. It’s part of the reason why whenever I have a choice between two options, I always choose the simpler one.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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