Basic vs. Superpowered

Last night I received this email from a customer…

“I went to a food show yesterday and there was a scheduling software company there selling their product. They immediately starting telling me how great it was I flat out told them that I am sure they had a nice product but that I was extremely happy with the Schedulefly software I had been using for years. The rep actually said that ‘you were just a basic company and their software was super powered!’ I set her straight immediately!”

I like the image of the two blenders because it helps paint a picture of what I see as the difference between “basic” and “super powered.” Some people need basic, some need the super powered. So let’s call the blender on the left “Super Powered Blender” and the one on the right “Basic Blender.”

Let’s say that every day you spend 30 minutes of time and a lot of effort chopping and stirring and shaking your ingredients by hand to make your smoothie. It is a pain in the ass, but you have to do it because you drink a smoothie every day, no matter what.

Then one day your friend tells you about this cool thing called Basic Blender that has a button you could push and it blends your smoothie in 15 seconds. And then another friend mentions it. Then another. And another. And all of these friends tell you how easy Basic Blender is to use and how much they like it. They even mention that if anything ever goes wrong, the people at Basic Blender are incredibly easy to do business with. They take significant pride in their product. They treat their customers like they would their friends.

Let’s say you hear all of this and decide to go try Basic Blender, which even has a 30-day free trial before you have to pay for it. And let’s say you get a Basic Blender and start your 3-day free trial it and it’s everything you thought it would be. Nobody from Basic Blender is calling you and tell you why you should buy it. You don’t need training. You don’t need instructions. And you love it. And it makes your life easier. You even begin to wonder how in the world you ever lived without it. You are happy.

Now let’s imagine you were walking through the mall one day and a salesperson at a kiosk started pitching Super Powered Blender to you. She starts rattling off all the reasons her blender is awesome without asking you a single question about what you need … or even if you already own a blender. You are forced to stop her mid-sentence to tell her you have a Basic Blender. She immediately and unwittingly questions your judgement and patronizingly tells you that you own a “basic” product and that her product is much better because it is “super powered.”

Your defense mechanisms rev up, and you “set her straight” (as our customer mentions above). You tell her that Basic Blender is exactly what you need, that you don’t need to emulsify, or liquify, or puree. You want something that is easy to use. Something that doesn’t require a user manual. And you might even tell her that Basic Blender also came highly recommended by lots of people who are all just as happy as you. You’d walk off irritated with the sales person, down on her brand, and even more pleased than before that you own a Basic Blender.

Fast forward a few years. Let’s say you’ve really gotten into making smoothies, and in fact you are now selling them out of a food truck. You love your Basic Blender, but your needs are becoming more complex. You are at a point where you would like to be able to emulsify, puree, etc. You remember that aggressive sales person who attempted to belittle Basic Blender and push Super Powered Blender on you.

Even if you needed something like Super Powered Blender at this point, wouldn’t you try to find an alternative? And if there weren’t one and you had to buy Super Powered Blender, would you be excited about it?

One more question…

What if you called the people at Basic Blender and told them you now had more complex needs, and asked if they could add all of those other buttons, and they told you they preferred to keep a laser focus on being the best at serving people with simple needs. And rather than trying to convince you to stick with Basic Blender, they proactively recommended that you check out Super Power Blenders, congratulated you on growing your business to a point where you needed a more complex solution, and wished you the very best…wouldn’t your heart break as you realized it was time to move on?

OK, so this is really the last question…

If a friend called you after you realized you would have to move on from using a Basic Blender and told you he was tired of spending 30 minutes every day hand blending his own smoothies, what would you immediately suggest he do?


P.s. If you liked this post, you might also like “Why we left $250,000 (and a million headaches) on the table” as well as “We don’t sell that fire engine, but our competitor does.”