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The Finicky Toddler’s Guide to Boosting Conversions

by Adam Kreitman

Meal times are not fun at our house.

Besides literally being allergic to more foods than not, my daughter is a VERY finicky eater. That leaves about 5 food options that she’ll willingly eat without making a fuss.

What I’ve discovered in trying every trick in the book to inject some variety into her diet is that sometimes it’s not so much the food itself she’s opposed to, but the presentation.

Those peas sitting there ignored on the high chair tray? Put them in a bowl and she gobbles them up.

Won’t touch small bite-size pieces of carrots? Cut the carrots up lengthwise and they’re downed in a matter of minutes.

Turns her nose at the applesauce when I try to feed it to her? Put a spoon in her hand and she’ll quickly open her mouth and finish it down to the last drop.

Same food.
Different presentation.
Completely different result.

Your marketing efforts are no different.

The choices people make about whether or not to buy your product or service (or which ones they do buy) may have less to do with what you’re offering than the way you’re presenting it.

Let’s look at a great example of this from the New York Times Bestselling book Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.

In the book Dan gives the example of an ad he saw on the website of the Economist magazine.

It had 3 options:

  • Option 1: Economist.com subscription – $59
  • Option 2: Print subscription only – $125
  • Option 3: Print & web subscription – $125

That’s not a misprint. The price for Option 2 and Option 3 were the same.

To understand the effect that presenting the offers this way has, Dan did an experiment. He gave these 3 options, exactly as presented above, to 100 MBA students at MIT. Here are the results of how many students selected each option…

  •  Option 1: 16 students
  • Option 2: 0 students
  • Option 3: 84 students

Then Dan did the same experiment except he removed Option 2 (the Print subscription only). So 100 students now had to select between just Option 1 and Option 3.

The results?

  • Option 1: 68 students
  • Option 3: 32 students

Clearly the Economist really wanted people signing up for Option 3. And, based on Dan’s experiment, the number of takers for Option 3 went up over 2.5 times when Option 2 was included in the mix.

Those crafty marketers at the Economist knew no one was going to choose Option 2, the Print only subscription for $125. It was only there to position Option 3 (the Print and web subscription for $125) as the most attractive option in the prospects’ eyes.

Same offer.
Different presentation.
Very different results.

But you don’t have to rely on number games to better present your product or service. You can use a story to do it as well.

There’s a famous story (at least in copywriting circles) about Claude Hopkins’ work for Schlitz Beer back in the early 1900s.

Schlitz was struggling as the #5 beer brand in terms of sales. They wanted Hopkins to help them with their advertising and brought him in for a tour of their factory. On the tour, Hopkins was fascinated by all the steps in the manufacturing process that went into making sure the beer being brewed was as pure as possible.

When Hopkins asked about this, the Schlitz people explained that all the other beer manufacturers used the exact same process. Schlitz wasn’t doing anything unique here.

But Hopkins knew that didn’t matter. What mattered was that none of the other manufacturers had told the story yet.

So Hopkins developed an ad campaign that detailed the story of Schlitz’s brewing process. The campaign described…

  • The plate glass room where the beer was cooled using filtered air.
  • How bottles were washed 4 times by machines.
  • That the company drilled down 4,000 feet to get pure water.
  • That the company did 1,018 experiments in order “to attain a yeast to give beer that matchless flavor.”

Again, the other brewers were doing the exact same things. But Schlitz was just the first one to tell the story.

And by doing so, in 6 months Schlitz went from #5 in sales to tied with Anheuser Busch for #1 in the nation.

Same beer and brewing process.
Different presentation.
Very different results.

Change Your Presentation

Long sales page on your website not converting well? Try breaking it up into an autoresponder series to give conversions a big bump.

Not many takers on your $1000/month coaching package? Try offering a $5000/month “Elite” or “Platinum” package on the same page to get more takers for the $1000/month option.

Sign ups slow on your membership site? Try breaking it up into smaller stand alone products.

If conversions are suffering, it may not be your product or service people have a problem with but the way you’re presenting it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out how to make a finicky toddler eat broccoli and mashed potatoes happy little trees in the snow covered forest.

5 Comments

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Adam Kreitman

Adam Kreitman coaches business owners on how to make their websites more compelling to their prospects.. and to Google. He owns Words That Click, a firm specializing in Conversion Optimization and managing Google AdWords campaigns for small businesses.Follow him on

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  1. August 2, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Another great article Adam … and very timly. We’re in the process of getting our pricing together right now and your insight is … well, insightful. Thank you. Looking forward to your next batch of happy little trees in a snow covered forest 🙂
    Aloha, Bob

    • Russ Henneberry says:
      August 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Bob — Thanks for stopping by The Daily Egg! Looking forward to your product release!

  2. Adam Kreitman says:
    August 2, 2012 at 11:18 am

    @Chris – Thanks!

    @eWAY Team – There are some really sharp people at the Economist – both writing for them AND doing their marketing!

  3. August 2, 2012 at 2:56 am

    We love the Economist example! Too many merchants consider only value when pricing – they must also consider perceived value.

    Kind regards,
    The eWAY Team

  4. Chris finiksopoulos says:
    July 16, 2012 at 7:35 am

    You are smart, Favorited article.

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