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More Isn’t Always Better: Why a Product Line Simplification Might be What Your New Business Needs

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Don’t confuse your customers with so many choices

Apple’s product line is a mess.

Consider the iPad.

There are 36 options across 25 price points. Ranging from $329 to $2399, somehow, customers are expected to magically know what they want.

Imagine going to McDonald’s and finding 36 combinations of hamburgers. Some have two patties of meat with one slice of cheese, while – for $0.08 more, you can get two burger meals without cheese. Or, for $1 more, you can get two burgers, each with one patty of meat and a slice of cheese, and one Coke.

The line would be out the door.

Customers would end up frustrated because they cannot decipher the menu to make a decision they are happy with. Are they getting a good deal? Which option is right for them? How confident in their decision are they?

When assessing your product line-up, offering a full slate of options may be tempting. Presenting every possible combination imaginable means you’ll surely provide something a customer resonates with, right?

The problem is your customers are terrible at making choices. And worse at determining what they need.

All-You-Can-Eat Buffet Plan

As a kid, my grandparents took me to a local all-you-can-eat buffet. I thought I was in heaven. You mean I can have whatever I want? As much of it as I want?

The idea of chocolate pudding piled next to a slab of roast beef with a side of cottage cheese and peaches was more excitement than 9-year-old me could handle. Let’s not even get into the bottomless fountain drink / chocolate milk / orange juice / iced tea options.

But discerning palates and customers know quantity and quality are not always the same.

When offering a little of everything, you do more damage to your customer than you may imagine. Instead of providing clarity, you’re introducing confusion.

When they came to you, they were already hungry – that is to say: they knew they needed something (a solution), but didn’t know what the best choice was. They look to you (the specialist) to offer an expertly curated menu of options for them.

They need you to guide them through the decision process.

Cineplex Choices

To take the food analogy further, consider the choices you have at the local movie theater concession stand.

Naturally, movies and popcorn go hand-in-hand.

How many options do you have?


That’s all.


Small, medium, and large. (“Laughable”, “Huge”, and “Gigantic” if we’re being honest)

Why? Well, there is some pricing psychology at play here, but, that aside, they don’t want to overwhelm consumers with too many options. You want popcorn. Now, it is about choosing how much popcorn.

When customers come to you, they want popcorn. Your job is to expertly curate the options: Small, Medium, or Large. A, B, or C.

What Are Your Options

But Shaun! What if someone wants potatoes instead of popcorn!? What if I lose the sale?

That is okay. Honestly.

You’re an expert in your field, not in all the fields.

Your options (A, B, and C) should be:

A: Entry level

B: Mid-level

C: Premium level

In most cases, your public marketing should funnel prospects to Option B, your mid-level offering. Over time, you can upsell them to your Premium product. If they don’t buy Option B, you can continue to nurture them with Option A.

Three options.

A complex product offering creates confusion for your customer when they are seeking clarity from you.

Simplify For Your Sanity

Not only does an all-you-can-eat buffet of options dilute your attention, subject matter expertise, and focus, but it also requires you to endlessly support products that are likely not adding value to your business.

If you are serving potatoes, popcorn, pizza, and hand-rolled pretzels, you are spending more time supporting the kitchen’s needs than the customers. If you keep adding to the menu, but not seeing the results in the form of paid conversions, you are wasting your time, energy, and effort.

For your sanity, simplify your product line-up.

Build a Better Moat

A moat is a defense from competitors. Similar to a moat around the castle to prevent enemy agents from sieging the walls, your moat works to fend off competitors.

By “owning” a niche, fortified by your three product options, you can establish yourself as a true subject matter expert by knowing the industry, trends, up-and-comers, and consumers.

If you offer a little bit of everything, you weaken your ability to fight off competition. Your attention is too divided to be effective.

Craigslist, the online classifieds service that has been around since Moses, was one of the most trafficked websites in many of its categories. For more than a decade, this strategy worked for them. Until the likes of Airbnb,, Autotrader, and OfferUp rose to relevance.

Slowly, these other brands stole customers away from Craiglist’s lucrative categories and supplanted themselves as industry leaders.

Craigslist was unable to fight off competitors coming in every direction.

Don’t open yourself up to the same mistake.

Wrapping up: why you should simplify your product line-up:

  • You will offer a better product for your customers with less confusion and more satisfaction
  • You will simplify the internal operations of your company
  • You will easily defeat competitors and construct a moat around your brand

Apple is incredible at many things, but right now, they are offering too many things. They are battling on multiple fronts, including some that are self-induced. They have created confusion for their consumer.

You, being more agile and adaptable, can learn from them and offer your customer a better experience as you build a sustainable, life-changing business.

All the best,


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